November 17

When You’re Not Taken Seriously

When You’re Not Taken Seriously

By Deborah Johnson

November 17, 2023

Brene Brown, communication, Deborah Johnson, discouragement, Harry Potter, imposter syndrome, isolation, JK Rowling, Malala Yousafzai, not good enough, not taken seriously, podcast, relationships, Setting Boundaries, The Kings Speech

When you’re not taken seriously it can evoke feelings of discouragement, frustration and even anger. When one feels like their work is overlooked or dismissed, it’s easy to dwell on the negative self-talk that any thoughts, opinions and original ideas will be disregarded and dismissed. This is especially disheartening when a great deal of effort and work has been poured into ideas and even projects that are then met with indifference or disregard. If you are like me, you have felt this before and it doesn’t matter what level you’re at. Others can make you feel insignificant and not good enough.

Before achieving immense success with the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling faced rejection after rejection. She was told that it would be best to keep her day job because she would never be a writer and especially writing children’s books. Writing children’s books wasn’t seen as a lucrative career. She persisted and eventually found a publisher that would publish her work. The rest is history. Her books aren’t just for children. Many adults, including myself, have read them cover to cover. And as far as a lucrative career, she is worth up to a billion dollars at this point in her life.

When dismissal of our ideas is repeated, it’s natural for our self-confidence to erode with the questioning of our worth or validity of any input we have given or any work we may have accomplished. Here, we cover some ways to combat the feelings of discouragement, anger and even giving up when you’re not taken seriously. We will focus on four ways.

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson How to Lose to Really Win with Deborah Johnson 10-10-2023
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One: Know Your Worth and Stand Strong

Take time to validate your skills, experience and natural abilities. Understand that many people will choose to dismiss others because they are looking to elevate themselves. Malala Yousafzai (Yousaf-zai) is a remarkable example of a person who understood her worth and overcame tremendous odds.  She was born in 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan and became an advocate for girl’s education in her homeland at a very young age. In 2009, when just 11 years old, she began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu under a pseudonym, speaking out against the Talban’s ban on girl’s education in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. It was an act of bravery on her part, but it also made her a target. In October 2012 Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while on a school bus, which sparked worldwide outrage. She survived and became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate at the age of 17 in 2014.

Unwavering determination, resilience and belief, not only in herself, but in the worth of every child’s potential, has made a significant impact in Malala’s fight for education. It’s a great example and reminder that part of knowing our worth is knowing the worth of the mission we believe in. This is why it’s important to both define our core values and then our purpose.

Two: Improve Communication Skills

Practice this principle consistently and start with listening, then responding. Video is a wonderful tool that reveals facial expressions, tone of voice and even confidence. Recording is as easy as turning on our phones to record an imaginary scenario. Then ask yourself a few questions: “Do I sound confident?” “Are my words clear and concise without a feeling of haughtiness?” Sometimes it’s hard to listen to ourselves, and especially to watch ourselves, but do it. It will help!

A vivid example of overcoming an issue of stuttering, which greatly hindered his ability to communicate effectively, is King George VI. In the film “The King’s Speech,” based on the true story of his life, the actor Colin Firth who played the role went through intensive treatment and guidance to conquer his speech impediment and find his voice as a leader during a critical period in history, particularly as World War II was looming on the horizon.

Very few are put into a role such as a King ruling a country, but the movie portrays very clearly how much work went into the ability to communicate confidently and assuredly to inspire confidence in the people. Consistent practice and evaluation is the key. Writing down thoughts and even speaking them aloud will help in this process. (FREE webinar here: Mindsets for a Year of Renewal)

Three: Set Boundaries with Professionalism

The principle of setting boundaries comes in different forms. Setting boundaries can apply to our mindset, in the types of conversations we choose to participate in or even in the types of relationships we continue to pursue. Setting effective boundaries, both personally and professionally, is crucial for maintaining balance, well-being and sustainable relationships. Sometimes we can’t choose all the people or groups we spend time with, but we can usually put limits on time involved and how much emotional energy we spend.

Mindsets for a Year of Renewal-Deborah Johnson

Brené Brown, a renowned research professor and author, is known for advocating vulnerability and empathy in leadership. Part of her message is to set clear boundaries to foster meaningful connections and healthy relationships. Brown’s work encourages individuals to establish limits that protect their time, energy, and emotional well-being.

One of Brown’s principles involves communicating needs clearly, stating expectations and limitations. Clearly articulating this to ourselves first, then to others in a respectful manner, helps to foster trust and respect. The ability to say “no” is also necessary when setting boundaries. It allows us to prioritize needs, including our own, with a balance of our personal and professional life. Even though some may criticize this, those boundaries will build respect and even a bit of envy from others who have fewer limitations in place. I’ve actually had to tell myself that “It’s O.K to do this!”

Four: Build a Network of Support

No one needs all “yes” men (or women!) around them as this could develop a false reality and evaluation of blind spots in our lives. For most, it is not easy to ask for advice, especially from those who have not gained a huge level of trust in our lives. There are many false networks of support within large groups and organizations which can feel good upon entering but may not provide the feedback and close comradery that is desired.

Associations, whether professional, community based or industry-specific, offer numerous advantages for their members and the broader community. There are usually networking opportunities leading to viable business partnerships, knowledge sharing and learning, advocacy and representation, access to resources and information, professional development and opportunities, market visibility and credibility and access to discounts and benefits.

Most of us have been a part of some associations throughout our life, but we have the choice whether or not to continue in certain organizations. I had been a member of a number of arts organizations for many years with my concert work and showcasing of shows around the country, but as I expanded my focus, I let those memberships expire. I’ve also been a part of NARAS, which is the organization that votes yearly for Grammy projects. As I have had projects to submit for many years and was an eligible member, it made sense to keep up my membership. But voting takes a great deal of time and the number of requests to listen to hundreds of projects became so labor-intensive that it didn’t make sense any more. The point to this is that we move in an out of different networks during different times of our lives as they are wanted and needed. It’s actually good to evaluate those groups from time to time.


To combat feelings of discouragement, isolation and even anger that may arise when you’re not taken seriously, take a step back to re-evaluate and apply some of those basic principles which will instill confidence. You can also add a few of your own.

  • Affirm your worth and stand strong. You are unique and your skills and experience are valuable!
  • Always have the goal of improving communication skills at any stage of life. It will be worth it.
  • It’s O.K. to set boundaries and say “no.” Most of us don’t do this often enough!
  • Choose a network and relationships that will encourage you both in your personal and professional life. This is a choice we can all make. Remember, you are worth it and are valuable!

Understanding these feelings of being discounted, both for individuals and for teams, is the first step in creating an atmosphere of creativity and healthy growth in our lives. Keep learning, keep growing and know your worth!


Self-Focus with Self-Confidence

Winning with a Never Give Up Attitude

Does the Impact of Peer Pressure Ever End?

Take time to validate your skills, experience and natural abilities. Understand that many people will choose to dismiss others because they are looking to elevate themselves. 

deborah johnson

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author

If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

1,415 words

Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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