What do people perceive about you?
Perception is what people think of you and what you think of others. Is it important to know how other people regard you? Yes, it is. It is your reputation!
People say perception is reality. What people perceive about you becomes who you are. Therefore, it becomes necessary to manage how your peers, boss, and clients see you.
"You are difficult," says your coworker. However, you think you are assertive.
"You are not a team player," says your boss. However, you think you are introspective.
Who is right and who is wrong?
How do you solve this problem? You begin to think that your coworkers and boss are mean. Your perception of your workplace becomes negative too.
You may say "I don't care what they think about me." You fail to realize that perception becomes the reality and what people think about you eventually will affect you.
Clients don't like to do business with you. They ask to be reassigned to another specialist.
Your peers don't enjoy collaborating with you. It becomes obvious to upper management that you are not a good fit for the team.Your employees walk out or resign so you can't operate at full capacity, you waste time and money recruiting.
So what is the problem? It's 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 an impression. "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, leadership and communication style influences your communication.
The easiest way to know how people regard you is through feedbacks. However, you may not always receive feedback because most people are uncomfortable providing direct feedback. As a result, you may not know how you are perceived.
Are you open to receiving feedbacks? Or do you throw a fit or become defensive? Not only should you be open to getting feedbacks but you should ask for them. If you are in a position of authority, ask for feedback from your team regularly.
Therefore it is important as professionals to be graceful when you receive feedbacks. Don't personalize negative criticism and act out negatively. If the feedback is wrong, correct it but remain professional and open.
How do you manage perceptions?
The more information you have, the more power you have to manage how people regard you. If people have a great impression about 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 includes being transparent.
Communication is the key to managing people's perception 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. If you are a leader, transparency is essential to your success. You want to communicate in a language that your target audience understands. Let your employees know the state of affairs of your organization.
As a professional, let people see how you are doing. Don't hold back when things aren't going well. Seek support as you go through professional challenges. If you are a willing learner and valuable employee (perception matters), it is easier for your team to accommodate you as you improve your skills.
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 bosses idea is bad for business not only express your disagreement.
In the same regard, a manager shouldn't just breathe down orders to team members. A manager should explain to the team, the reasons for the order and the potential effect it would have on the team.
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 the feedback you receive. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, then strategize how you would communicate going forward.
Your goal is to ensure that you 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 to your reputation as a professional be accurate and if you want to attain the heights of your career or business.