I have this acquaintance… let's call him Nicholas. That's not his real name, for reasons that are about to become glaringly obvious. You see, Nicholas repels people.
He's a genius. Yet it seems nobody wants to hear what he has to say…
He consumes and learns vast quantities of books, training videos, and seminars. He truly knows more about his chosen area of expertise than most of the official “experts” themselves.
Nicholas generously shares his knowledge with everyone he knows. He is constantly giving advice, feedback, and suggestions to his friends and coworkers.
In fact, it's just about impossible to get a word in edge-wise with Nicholas.
To be clear, he's not mean-spirited. He's funny, reasonably attractive, well-groomed, and there's nothing seemingly “off” about him.
Even though I like him, I find him hard to be around. Because I know every time we get together I'm going to get a lecture. He's going to point out some area where I'm “wrong”, all under the guise of helping me “get it right”.
Nicholas wonders why he has very few friends, and why so many of his relationships end in conflict and bad feelings. Seriously, he doesn't see what's obvious: he repels people.
What's the application?
If you're struggling to build a following online (or off-line, for that matter)… and if you can't figure out why that following isn't growing… this just might be the answer.
Constant lecturing, exhortation, and “correcting” people leaves them tired and discouraged. It also leaves them less than enthusiastic about being around you.
If you long to be a leader, but no one is following, it may be time to stop talking and start listening.
The antidote to repelling people is simple. Instead of looking for what is wrong with them, and seeking to correct that, try looking for what is right.
Encourage them. Stir up their hope, their faith in the future.
People are naturally drawn to someone who gives them hope. The more hope you create, the more influence you will have.