Skip to main content
Important COVID-19 Update How we can help you
Attention Pays

Your Attention Please… Who Should You Listen To?

By October 3, 20172 Comments

Sometimes it can feel like you are surrounded by people eager to give advice, feedback and input. I think it’s that way for a lot of people, and it can be hard to sort out WHICH source is best to listen to.

I received a sweet email that surprised me after attending a program to develop speaking skills. The sender commented about the investment I’d made in myself, given my current speaking business. It made me laugh as I am always working on my skills and business and don’t think we ever really reach that place where we have ‘made it’. That really got me thinking. I am such a work in progress.


I invest in my speaking skills every year. Whether by attending a program like Red Thread Retreat, by TEDx Cambridge producer and really cool chick Tamsen Webster, or attending conferences and events hosted by the National Speakers Association, or learning from other professionals in the industry. Continuous learning is something I crave.


However, I’m VERY selective of who I let speak into my life. And you may want to be as well. Here’s why… Feedback in our world today is constant, but for those thinking that ANYONE can, or should give you feedback? I disagree.


When asked, “Can I give you some feedback?”, my response is often, “Not today”. Not because I don’t care, not because I don’t want to improve, but because that person hasn’t earned the right to give me feedback. I know who is and isn’t qualified to speak into my life. I regularly seek them out. They are experts in their field. People who know me. People I trust to have my best interests at heart. Some I hire when requiring specific expertise. Others I listen to on podcasts, read their books and even a few I have on speed dial. I’ll let you wonder as to who is who!


Here are some of my favorite people to pay attention to when tuning my skills:


For my speaking practice:

  • Michael and Amy Port – founders of Heroic Public Speaking and great performance coaches.
  • Lou Heckler – a great speech coach and friend. An annual visit to Lou is a treat to immerse myself in getting better at my craft and creating new stories for my audiences.
  • Nick Morgan – another great speaking coach and I read his blog Public Words
  • Scott Stratten – great friend whose speaking model I greatly admire. I especially love the passion he has for his wife and family in our sometimes-challenging business.
  • My mastermind group – a very special group of speaker friends who are experts in their feilds and our friendship is deep.


For my fitness:

  • On Air with Ella – her podcast is my most favorite for health and wellness and mental wellbeing. Oh, and she makes me laugh. (What a bonus that is!)
  • Jennifer Jacobs – owner of JMethod Fitness and instructor with Peloton. She’s also my personal trainer. Her kind spirit and her fierce body are an inspiration to me. She’s part drill sergeant and part the glamorous BFF you just want to sip champagne with!
  • Coach Dave – owner of Road2Running who taught me how to run and used to send me weekly mileage challenges to keep training when I was training for my marathon.


For style and all things well dressed:


I trust these people to give input. To share insights. To tell me what I need to hear… not just what I think I want to hear. I’m hoping you have some crazy amazing people like them in your life too. The kind that can be straight with you and who lift you higher while they’re at it.  Ask yourself, “Who do I listen to? Who are my favorite sources of advice and inspiration?” Make sure whoever has your ear also has your back. When you find that kind of people, keep them close and nurture that relationship with all you have. They are keepers.


I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and if your team needs a champion to help give the kind of feedback and tools they need to sharpen their own skills and move to the next level? Give me a call. Let’s see where I can help.


  • Completely agree! However, most unwanted input does not come is an “I’d like to give you feedback” package, easily indentified and responded to with a breezy “Not today”. You think faster and are have better manners than I do! Any further insights on 1-recognizing quickly and 2-politely shutting it down?

    • Neen James says:

      Tips on recognizing it quickly: firstly knowing which situations people feel a right to give you unsolicited feedback (i.e. after speeches, after coaching sessions, after speaking on a panel or doing a presentation) and being super prepared with your own version of ‘not today’ (with that big Hayley gorgeous smile of yours). Secondly, politely shutting it down needs to be congruent to you and your personality. I would also do it in a way that shows you are being compassionate to the ‘feedback giver’ (even if you don’t want to hear it). Smiling, having open body language, and also using your body language to turn away or speak to the next person in the line who is waiting to chat with you. I have sometimes said ‘As much as I’d love to continue our conversation, I want to be able to serve the other people waiting in the line today’. Does that help?

Leave a Reply