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  • See Yourself as Others See You

    Dean Lindsay, See Yourself as Others See You

    When I was heading public relations for one of the entertainment studios, I hired a talented woman I'll call Victoria. She had only been on board about a month when my staff discovered that it was her birthday. 

    A lively group of communications folks, my team needed very little provocation to turn a staff meeting into a party. When Victoria walked into our next staff meeting, she was greeted with slice of gooey chocolate cake, which she prompted refused, saying, "No thank you, I never eat sugar." 

    In that moment, her fate was sealed. Victoria never realized that her seemingly inconsequential decision to refuse to join the party, combined with her generally glacial reserve, gave her colleagues the impression that she was an ungrateful snob who was unwilling to be part of the team. 

    Please know that I'm not advocating that anyone cave to dietary peer pressure. I'm merely suggesting that if Victoria had considered the impression she was giving others, she might have plastered a friendly smile on her face and accepted the cake, if only to shove it around on her plate. 

    As an executive coach, it's my job to tell my clients the truth and, no matter how blunt my comments, I've always been thanked for it. So who's telling you the truth about how you're perceived by others? 

    If you're an executive, your company may conduct 360 assessments. Entrepreneurs routinely ask for customer feedback. Now it's your turn. Here's a simple way to learn others' perceptions of you without putting anyone on the spot (much). Here's what you do:  

    • Pick five people from your personal or professional life, or a mix of both, who you think will tell you the truth. 
    • Tell them you're looking for honest feedback and ask if they'd be comfortable answering some questions. If possible, have this initial conversation in person or by phone, not by e-mail. If they waver or decline, let them off the hook gracefully by thanking them and asking them to contact you later if they decide to participate. 
    • Then ask your participants to tell you what they consider five of your strengths and five of your weaknesses. Add "on the job," if you're only interested in workplace reactions. 
    • Next, request some feedback, about 5-8 descriptive adjectives, or ask them how they would describe you to someone who had never met you. 
    • Thank your participants for sharing their thoughts with you - whatever they are - and let them know you'll return the favor, any favor, whenever they want.            

    Although sometimes the truth can hurt, at least you can address any perception issues you discover. And you may be pleasantly surprised at the unexpected accolades you receive!

    To your success,

    Libby

More Articles From Dean Lindsay » PROGRESS TAKES PERSISTENCE: How to not Give Up!
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