What do people think about you?
Perception is what people believe about you and what you believe about others. People's perceptions of you become who you are, and it is crucial to managing how your colleagues, boss, and clients see you.
Your colleague thinks you are not a team player, but you think you are assertive. Who is right, and who is wrong? If the perception problem persists, you also will think your coworkers are difficult. Your perception of your workplace will become negative too.
On the other hand, if your default position is not to care what others think of you as long as you do your job well, that may not be smart. You are failing to realize that their perception of you make can make them undervalue your work.
Your clients may not like to do business with you and ask for another specialist.
Your peers won't enjoy collaborating with you, and you miss out on career-advancing projects and information.
If you are a boss, your employees may walk out or resign, leaving your operation affected, wasting time and money recruiting more often than necessary.
So what is the problem? The problem is the perception people have of you. People have an opinion about you that is real to them. What you do and how you do it leaves a negative impression, and they see you unfavorably. "The impression you create may affect future job opportunities, collaborations or other important matters," says James Uleman, Ph.D., a psychology professor at New York University and researcher on impression management.
How do people form a perception about you?
People form a perception of you based on how you communicate.
Your organizational role and communication style influence your communication. The easiest way to know how people regard you is through feedback. To get helpful feedback, people must be comfortable providing direct feedback.
Are you open to receiving feedback? Do you throw a fit or become defensive? Not only should you be open to getting feedback, but you should ask for them.
Be gracious when you receive feedback. Don't personalize negative criticism and act out negatively. If the feedback is incorrect, correct it but remain professional and open.
Also, if you are in a position of authority, ask for feedback from your team if you want them to share their opinion of you.
How do you manage perceptions?
You manage perceptions by improving your communication! The more information you have, the more power you have to manage how people regard you.
If people have a great impression of you, that's great. However, you can only know if you are open to receiving feedback. On the contrary, a negative reputation left unmanaged leads to unintended consequences, not excluding a loss of income.
Communication is the key to managing people's opinions of you. Whether you are a Chief Executive or an employee, if people know why you do what you do, they begin to see things from your point of view. Never assume people understand why you are doing things. Take the time to communicate effectively at work.
Communication includes being transparent.
Don't hold back when things aren't going well. Seek support as you go through difficult situations. If you are a willing learner and a valuable employee (perception matters), it is easier for your team to accommodate you as you improve your skills.
Never assume people understand why you are doing things.
Communication includes knowing your audience.
How you communicate depends on who your audience is.
If you are an employee and you disagree with an idea your boss proposes, you should state how your boss's idea is bad for business and not only express your disagreement.
In the same regard, a manager shouldn't just breathe down orders to team members. If you are a manager, explain to your team the reasons for your directives. You need to speak in a language that resonates with your target audience if you want them to buy into what you do.
You need to speak in a language that resonates with your target audience if you want them to buy into what you do.
Communication Includes Engaging with your team.
When there is engagement in your workplace, it is easier to manage perceptions. Keeping the lines of communication open helps the entire team. People can easily give and receive feedback when the setting is right.
You can influence how people see you in most cases. The important thing is to evaluate and reflect on the feedback you receive. Know your strengths and weaknesses, then strategize how you would communicate moving forward.
Your goal is to eliminate acts that negatively impact your professional reputation so that people don't get the wrong impression of you.
Managing how people perceive you is not optional if you want your reputation as a professional to be accurate and get to the heights of your career or business.