Perceptions of You Enter the Room Before You Do
All too often, others’ perceptions of us can make or break our opportunities, adoption of our ideas, our futures. Perceptions of us result from the direct and indirect experiences others have had with us. So, yes, opinions about us can become viral in an organization where assumptions are made about us by people we have never actively engaged or even communicated with. But unfortunately, others’ perceptions of you are not always within our control.
We have a choice to make about others’ opinions about us.
One, abdicate perceptions about us to others.
Two, take control of how others perceive us and work to manage those perceptions.
If you choose option two above, how do you better manage how others perceive you?
- Learn the truth about how you are perceived – This research will take a little time and may be painful, but it is the essential first step to managing these perceptions.
- Learn who – This may not always be possible, but worth the effort. Knowing who has good and bad perceptions about you will help you identify how to manage the negative attitudes more effectively.
- Become very introspective – Now is the time to be brutally honest. This honesty begins with an autopsy of how and why these perceptions exist, both good and bad. What actions, reactions, behaviors, or associations may have created these opinions? Journalling these causes and effects will help identify what you need to do and how you want to be known in the organization.
- Make a definitive list – This list identifies the actions, behaviors, and associations you need to change to improve these perceptions.
- Talk to your “advocates” and “detractors” – Although you may not know all of them, meet with each you know and if they are “detractors,” try to learn first-hand what you did or what associations you have that resulted in this perception. Prepare for this conversation to be a little difficult to hear. Avoid making excuses or explanations while you listen and learn. Once you’ve listened to this person’s truth, commit to amending these behavior(s) or associations. Thank them for their honesty. If the person is an “advocate,” thank them for their support and share your plans to improve their opinions of you, especially with those that may have a wrong impression of you. You will often find that they will become more verbal with their advocacy using this process.
- Make the identified changes and follow through with your commitments to your “distractors” and “advocates.”
- Check-in for wellness – Follow up with everyone you met with to get an update on your progress and get ideas on ways to improve organizational perceptions of you and your abilities continually.
There is no doubt that perceptions of you enter the room before you do. So please ensure they are the perceptions you want the room to have.
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