“And whatever any man shall say about you, do not attend to it; for this is no affair of yours.” – Epictetus
“What other people think about you is none of your business.” We’ve all heard it before but looked at again, in slightly different wording through the eyes of Epictetus the words take on a little more life of their own. When we consider that the basis of Epictetus’ writings and the cornerstone of his philosophy is that we are in control of how we react to the things that we do not have control over. Furthermore, our reaction to these things is a major part of what defines our character.
We do not control what other people think or say about us. We do not control how hard our coworkers work, we do not control how hard they think we work or how good/bad they think we might be at our jobs. We do not even control how our spouses think about us. All of this is true, to a point.
Whatever anyone has to say about us when we are not around, even if it makes its way back to us, is really none of our concern. Doesn’t matter. This is not feedback. It is gossip. We can choose to use it as feedback but we should be careful here. Changing around our actions in response to gossip is a dangerous precedent and most of us are probably not truly detached enough to see this objectively and use it for good. These things are better ignored.
It is important, however, that we remember that we do control how we act, how we speak about others, how we view each and every situation, and how we approach our responsibilities. At work and at home. If we would like to be well thought of, we need to be putting in the effort to be well thought of.
We can do that, it just takes recognizing what we have control over and controlling it.
virtus fortis vocat