How To Deal With The Haters You Care About

What do you do when someone doesn't believe in what you're building?

Even worse, what do you do when that skepticism comes from the people you're close to?

This week's question comes from Tijana. She writes:

Hi Greg,

I’ve been struggling with this for some time and I wonder if you could answer my question: When you were building your online business, how did you deal with the people you cared about in your life but who did not believe in your ability to succeed in your venture alone, in the sense that when you told them you needed to work on your online business, they just didn’t take it seriously and tried to persuade you that you needed a full time job in order to make a living?

Thank you!

With gratitude,


This is such a important question. Because the truth is, most people underestimate the impact of those around them.

As Jim Rohn said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This means that your income, weight, and overall belief system is a product of those closest to you. You look to this “reference group," consciously or otherwise, to see how you should behave. 

Why is our reference group so influential? Probably because we’re social creatures. We’re evolutionarily wired to fit in with our tribe. Our survival as a species has depended on it.

If you don’t know any entrepreneurs, it’s going to be really hard to succeed as one. And if the people closest to you actively discourage you from building an online business, it’s going to be even harder.

Here's the deal..

Whenever there’s a situation that you want to change, you really only have two options: you can either try to control the situation itself or you can try to control your reaction to the situation. In this case, I’d probably suggest a combination of the two.

External tactic: Don't cut them out, crowd them out

Most personal development gurus say you should cut everyone out of your life that isn’t a positive influence. This advice sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t hold up in practice. Here’s why:

  1. There are some people who you'll probably never be willing to cut out of your life (family, for example).

  2. If you cut people out without adding new ones in, all really do is make yourself extremely lonely.

  3. Focusing on what you don’t want only moves you closer towards it (classic example: if I tell you to not think of a pink elephant, that’s all you can think of).

So, what should you do if you don’t want to cut people out? Crowd them out instead. Here’s an analogy to explain what I mean:

If you want to lose weight, there are basically two approaches: you can focus on not eating certain foods anymore (cutting out), or you can focus on eating more healthy foods (crowding out). People who choose the second approach typically end up eating less junk, losing more weight, and keeping it off longer.

So instead of going on a social diet, ask yourself what healthy people you need to add more of: masterminds, coaches, friends you meet at events. It’s way easier to create a new, more positive reference group than it is to eliminate an old one.

Finding my tribe was one of the biggest turning points for me and my business. Investing in new connections is one of the highest leverage things you can do. Spend as much time and money as you need on this one.

When you start to build yourself a new reference group, you’ll find yourself spending less and less time in your toxic relationships. When you do interact with these negative people, here are two things you need to do:

1. Catch them at their best. No one is negative all the time. If your grumpy uncle hates everything in the world except for baseball, you better make damn sure there’s baseball happening when you spend time together. 

2. Don’t talk about business. There are some people who are great to hang out with, but they’re just not going to support your big crazy dreams. Good to know! Talk about something you both agree on, and then go talk about your business with someone who has earned the right to hear about it.

At this point you might be asking, “But Greg, how do I get the people I care about to care about my business?”

My answer? You can’t.

At least not directly.

You can’t control what people think about your business. All you can control is yourself.

Internal tactic: Stop dabbling and go all in

For the most part, people take their cue from us. The best way to get people to take your business seriously is to get them to take you seriously. And the way to do that is to take yourself seriously.

Be honest: Do these people have good reason to believe that you might fail? Do you have a history of not following through? If so, you can’t really blame these people for using past performance as a predictor of future success.

The real issue here is that the people you care about are exposing your own insecurities. They’re amplifying your existing doubt. If you were really committed to building a business, they wouldn’t have anything to feed off of and they wouldn’t affect you as much.

Other people are a mirror for your own doubts. If you want to get them to take your business seriously, then you need to take it seriously first. You need to go all in.

On a scale from 1–10, how committed are you to achieving your goals? Be honest here. If it’s anything less than a 10, what is it going to take to increase that number?

I’ve been really fortunate in that I haven’t really had to deal with people I care about not believing in my ability to build a business. The main reason for this is that I’ve surrounded myself with really supportive people who want me to succeed.

But the other reason is because those people trust my judgement. Even if it’s not the same as their own. They’ve seen me set crazy goals, go all in, and achieve them quickly.

The bottom line

Both of the above tactics have one thing in common: they force you to focus only on what you can control. Don’t waste time or energy trying to control things that you have no direct influence over. Instead, ask yourself two questions:

  1. How can I surround myself with more supportive people?
  2. How can I demonstrate a bigger commitment to my business?

Once you've answered and acted on those questions, then you can start to focus on crafting a compelling vision to share with other people. Just be aware of how much time you spend trying to convert the non-believers. Much better to keep your attention on the people who already "get it" - your tribe.

Hope that helps!

Stay after it,


(Photo credit: Neil Moralee via cc)