Why People Don’t Take You Seriously

a monkey wearing a sweater and bow tie

There’s always that one person who’s like the Barack Obama of the room. They have insane charisma, and everyone listens to them the moment they open their mouth. Hell, sometimes it even feels like they can get anyone to do what they want with a snap of their fingers.

I know it seems easy. Well, they make it look easy, don’t they?

So you try to emulate some of the traits you see from these successful people when you go to business functions, but instead of other people lending their ears to you, they talk over you, divert their attention to their smartphones, or even yawn while you talk.

Then the next time you meet, you’re greeted with, “So how’s that little business of yours going?”

Look, they don’t mean to be condescending and nine times out of 10, they’re not even aware that they’re patronising or ignoring you. They’re just not taking you seriously.

Is that their fault? If only one or two are doing it, then likely, yeah. Otherwise, you probably don’t want to hear this but, it’s you.

A hard-to-swallow pill is that if the majority of people you encounter in small business don’t take you seriously, there’s either something about you that they don’t like or some traits that they’re looking for in a leader that you don’t seem to have (yet).

I’ve seen it time and time again. I’ve even experienced it at some point. But I found a way to change that.

So if you do the same and build a mindset for self-improvement, you’ll find that more people will start admiring and paying full attention to you and your small business.

Why being taken seriously matters in a small business

Every business owner needs to be seen as a professional at what they do.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a fun personality. This is still important in keeping the conversation fresh, relieving tension that can build up in your meetings, and generally make you more likeable as a business owner.

What I mean by is that people want to do business with entrepreneurs who know exactly what they’re talking about. Otherwise, they’ll think you’re unreliable.

It’s also the small things that you think no one takes note of, but they do. How do you wear your business attire? Do you mumble a lot when talking? Do you talk over them too?

All of these (and more) contribute to how people see you as an entrepreneur. Because their money will potentially go to you, they understandably have high expectations.

For a small business owner, not being taken seriously makes growing their business twice as hard. But before you pin the blame on them for treating you poorly, do a self-check first.

Reasons people don’t take you seriously

As a business coach, I’ve seen why many entrepreneurs aren’t  taken seriously when I sit down and talk to them about their business, and observe how they act. Sometimes they’re major issues, other times they’re tiny details. Most of the time, it’s a mishmash of both.

If you’re not being taken seriously, here are some of the reasons why:

#1: You don’t present yourself well.

You’re late to meetings, your hair is still wet or messy, your shirt or blouse hasn’t been ironed properly — you look scruffy.

Dressing to impress may feel extremely superficial, but the truth is, if your hair is dishevelled and you look like you had a tug of war battle with someone on the way to your meeting, then that says more about you than it does about the people who formed a bad impression of you.

Not to mention, your punctuality (or the lack thereof) will make them think that you don’t value their time.

No one wants to do business with people who make you feel like their time matters more than yours. And no one wants to have to talk to someone who doesn’t put the time and effort to at least look presentable.

They’ll probably think, “So this is where my money will go? I don’t think so.”

#2: You’re not confident.

So maybe you did dress well. Maybe you made it on time to your meeting. But then you open your mouth and it’s just mumble after mumble.

Your palms are sweating. You’re slouching. You laugh when there’s a question you can’t answer. You forgot how to smile.

Without confidence, you’ll look like an amateur entrepreneur who doesn’t know what they’re doing. The moment you show that you’re uncertain about what your business can offer, people will start to lose interest because they’ll think they can’t rely on you and your words.

#3: You’re not assertive.

Without confidence, you’ll lack assertiveness too.

People won’t take you seriously if you don’t assert yourself, your ideas, and what you want to happen. If they can easily boss you around and control you, they won’t think you can take charge of your business properly, and they likely won’t listen when you tell them what they should be doing.

#4: You don’t own up to your mistakes.

Here’s another truth pill: in business, being liked is more important than being right.

When you’ve made a mistake, people don’t want to hear you make up excuses just to prove your point. They want solutions. And the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that the problem exists.

How can they depend on your products or services to effectively help them and solve the issues they’re made for if the owners themselves don’t want to fix issues within their business?

Not owning up to your mistakes will not only make you unreliable; it will also make you untrustworthy.

#5: You’re not being true to your word.

Speaking of trust, lying is the easiest and most effective way to destroy it. Funny thing is, a lot of small business owners still end up lying to their clients and customers.

It’s all talk and no walk.

A lot of entrepreneurs tend to dream big and promise their clients the world, but when the time comes, they simply fail to deliver.

Whatever the reason is (with a few exceptions of course), if you fail to deliver and end up not staying true to your word, chances are your clients and prospects will stop believing in you and your future promises.

#6: You associate yourself with a bad crowd.

You are known by the company you keep.

Even if you claim that you’re not prone to peer pressure or easily influenced by the people you spend a lot of time with, that’s certainly not what it will look like to others.

Besides, it’s a psychological fact that as social beings, we are impacted and influenced by the people who surround us. Their values, the topics they like to talk about, their habits — these will become a part of you in one way or another.

Associating yourself with a bad crowd does not only leave a bad impression on you. It also affects who you are and how you behave around others.

How to be taken seriously

Self-awareness is the first step towards change.

Now that you know the Don’ts, it’s easier to determine the Dos on how to be taken seriously.

You should:

  • Be punctual and presentable. Make sure your business clothes are clean and properly ironed. Fix your hair; that’s your crowning glory. Improve your hygiene wherever possible. And be early! An hour early is better than a minute late.
  • Be confident. Confidence is attractive. It not only makes you look charismatic, but it also makes you look smart, responsible, and leader-like. Confidence will make asserting yourself easier, too. If people get the impression that you have a positively commanding attitude, they’ll trust your judgment, listen to you, and follow you.
  • Let your actions do the talking. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. Be realistic with your expectations from yourself and your small business. And if you do promise something, even if it’s difficult, make sure that you do your best to follow through. People will judge your services based on the outcome, not on what you say.
  • Remain up-to-date with news, politics, and worldly issues. Relevance and knowledge on current events are essential when engaging in substantial conversations. Your business should always be relevant to the needs of your target market, and whoever they may be, they are surely affected by the current affairs locally and even globally.
  • Stay humble. If you make a mistake, be honest, swallow your pride, and own up to it. Your business will stagnate and cease to improve if you as its owner refuse to admit to your faults and shortcomings. Doing so is a barrier to improvement.

There are many reasons why people don’t take you seriously as an entrepreneur. But I can assure you: you can change that.

It’s by changing your habits, working on being more humble and confident, and being honest and sensitive to others that your clients, staff, and prospects will take you seriously.

Do you come across as professional and likely to be taken seriously? Jump on a call with me and I’ll let you know: