You Know What They Say About You, Don't You?

It's the classic battle of Perception versus Reality.

Posted Oct 09, 2012

We all hope that our “messages” (verbal and nonverbal) are received by others the way we intended them, but many different factors can prevent that from happening. We may not be aware that our behavior or tone is inadvertently contradicting our message. The “disconnect” can take many forms. Here’s the problem: good intentions don’t count in the workplace. Perception always wins, hands down. So, we have to deal honestly with them if we want to be successful.

Let’s face it: we all have blind spots. Why? Because we typically judge ourselves based on our intentions, while others judge us based on our behaviors. More specifically, others make judgments based on their perceptions of our behavior. And, at the end of the day, the way we are perceived determines whether or not we get the job, the promotion or the raise.

In this blog series, I will highlight the most common blind spots and their impact on otherwise talented and motivated individuals. These are not the clueless office buffoons. I'm talking about the talented people with excellent potential that simply don't recognize that an underlying attitude or subtle behavior is sabotaging their professional reputations and their careers.

I will discuss the most common reputation blind spots I’ve found through my years as a coach and consultant. Do any of these people sound familiar?

• Those who consider themselves colorful, dramatic and bold, but others see them as attention seeking, poor listeners or rebellious.

• Those who feel dutiful, loyal and accommodating, while others see them as reluctant to act independently and lacking confidence.

• Those who see themselves as decisive and quick to think on their feet, although their co-workers view them as inflexible or uninterested in others' thoughts and ideas.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Blind spots take many different forms, and we all have them. So how can you identify your own blind spots and work to correct them? We’ll go into much more detail in this series, but the primary elements of the fix are:

• Looking at yourself honestly

• Inviting others you respect to give you feedback

• Being willing to make some changes.

Understanding how blind spots can derail your career is usually a great incentive to look long and hard at your thought processes and behaviors in the workplace. Spend some time thinking about how you'd like to be perceived. What's your ideal reputation? What are your intentions for making an impact on others?

If you discover that your actual reputation doesn't match up with what you intend to project, you have identified a professional blind spot. Once you can actually see these hidden hazards, you can take action to close the gaps. We’ll discuss specific actions for each identified blind spot in the coming weeks.

So, what blind spots are holding back your career? Are you ready to find out and take charge of your professional reputation? If so, stay tuned.