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You: From Another Perspective

You: From Another Perspective
    What They Really Think of You

    Do you ever wonder how you’re perceived by others? What kind of person they think you are? How they see you as a boss, employee, neighbour, friend, son, daughter, parent, leader, sporting team member, teacher, business partner, trainer or maybe even potential life partner? Do you think about the type of impression you’ve made on people over time (be that a brief or long time)? If they had to describe you to someone else, what might they say? Do they see you as selfish? Generous? Nasty? Kind? Arrogant? Humble? Sincere? Shallow? Funny? Intense? Generous? Greedy? Inspiring? Boring? Intimidating? Warm? Strong? Weak? Genuine? Fake? Talented? Creative?

    Do you ever wonder if the way ‘you see you’ (so to speak) is how others see you? Does it really matter? The answer to that question is yes and no. Sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn’t. Whether it matters could depend on a couple of things:

    1. The situation. If you’re not sure what the guy who delivers your morning paper thinks of you, it probably doesn’t matter too much. Unless, of course, that guy is your brother.

    2. The potential consequences of not knowing. If (for example) you’re a coach and your athletes are not motivated, empowered or inspired by your coaching or communication style (and you happen to be unaware of the fact); that’s a problem. If you think your charges like and respect you but they don’t, well, it matters. It’s in your interest to know how your team really sees things (you) – not for your ego – but in order for you to be able to do your job effectively.

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    Your Reality and Their Reality

    If you’re trying to create a certain outcome at work (for example) and, in your mind (that is, your self-created reality), you see yourself as being a strong, powerful leader while those in your charge see you as being a self-important, power-tripping, egomaniac then, yes, it matters. You have a perception problem, an awareness problem and a communication issue. That is, your staff are not ‘getting’ what you believe you’re giving them. All too often, bosses see themselves as being strong, focused and assertive while (a percentage of) the people around them see them as intimidating, insensitive and unaware.

    Learning the Hard Way

    There have been numerous times over the last twenty-five years when what I believed I was ‘giving’ a person or group (motivation, direction, feedback), wasn’t what they felt they were ‘getting’ (intimidation, criticism). I’ve learned the hard way that even good intentions can create bad outcomes when I’m not in tune with my audience (team, group, client, etc.). I need to see the process (challenge, situation, problem) through their eyes and, more importantly, I need to see me through their eyes. Sounds weird I know, but trust me on it.

    In any meaningful relationship – be that personal or professional – it is important that we have a level of insight into, and, understanding of, how people perceive us. Not so that we might stress, worry and become (more) insecure about what people think (we already do that too much) but, rather, so that we might develop more empowered, meaningful, productive and enjoyable relationships. Greater connection. Better understanding. More effective communication.

    We can only make real progress with people when we begin to understand their (version of) reality. We don’t need to embrace it or agree with it, just understand it. And them.

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    Tuning In Our Awareness

    So, should we get all weird, anxious and paranoid about what people think of us? Of course not; that’s a negative, not a positive. And totally not what this lesson is about. But, what we should do is endeavour to become more aware and ‘in tune’ when it comes to the issue of how we’re perceived by the people in our world. The greater our awareness (of how others see us), the more effective we become (on a range of levels), the more connection we create (which means better understanding) and the less relationship and communication problems we’ll experience.

    Feedback for Me

    As a speaker, writer and some-time radio presenter, it’s part of my ‘job’ to have people tell me what they think of me. How they see me. What they think of my ideas, messages and ‘performances’. Sometimes that feedback comes via a phone call (or an SMS) from an abusive (or happy) radio listener – who feels compelled to tell me I’m an ignorant dickhead (or a genius). Sometimes it arrives in the form of a comment or email from a visitor to this site. Readers are constantly giving feedback on what I write (the subject matter), how I write (my writing style) and what they think of me (as a person). Some of the feedback makes me feel great, some… not so much. But all of it gives me insight into – and understanding of – how people perceive me.

    As a professional speaker, I usually receive a written ‘report’ from the organisation I have spoken for. This feedback is honest, direct, objective, anonymous (usually) and sometimes brutal. Sometimes glowing. What this kind of impartial, calculated feedback gives me is a clear picture of how I am perceived and received by my audiences – crucial (if not always comfortable) information for a speaker.

    Taking Discomfort to a New Level

    A few years ago, I took part in an event called a Speakers Showcase. One of the agencies I speak for (I am represented by a few) decided to hold the showcase at a local Casino. As I was new (on their books) they decided that I would be one of the eight speakers wheeled out to deliver a twenty minute ‘sample’ presentation for the would-be ‘buyers’ (for want of a better term) from various companies and organisations around Melbourne, Australia. The audience consisted of four hundred (or so) people whose sole job it was to evaluate me as a potential speaker for their conferences and professional development programs. They weren’t there to be educated, inspired or motivated by me. No, they were there to judge my performance.

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    But Wait, There’s More…

    I walked into the auditorium to do my thing and just when I thought I couldn’t be any less comfortable, I spied – what appeared to be – a table full of large(ish) remote controls. The ‘remote controls’ were handed to audience members and they turned out to be part of an electronic scoring system that allowed the ‘buyers’ to score me (across a range of criteria) as I spoke on stage. Let me tell you that it’s mildly(!) terrifying, distracting and disconcerting to watch people punching a ‘score’ into an electronic gizmo while you’re speaking to them.

    “You wanna know what people think of you Craig? Here’s four hundred opinions!”

    So the Big Question is:

    How do we become more aware of how people see us – not to be confused with obsessing (worrying) about what people think – in order to produce better results in our world? The answer is: consciously, intentionally and un-emotionally (that’s the tough bit). All the information is there, we just need to look for it and interpret it for what it is.

    What They’re Saying When They’re Not Speaking

    People are constantly telling us what they think and how they feel via their actions, behaviours, choices, reactions and body-language. The problem is we don’t pay attention. We don’t read the signs. We don’t ‘listen’ to the non-verbal stuff (which is the majority of communication). People’s physiology (facial expressions, eye contact, posture, hand movements, respiration and even perspiration levels) will usually tell us more than their words.

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    I’ve given the example before of the girl who buys her new car and chooses the special duco colour and wheels because she believes they will make her car unique. An hour later she leaves the dealership and within ten minutes she sees five cars exactly like hers! Why? Are there instantly more cars like hers on the road? Nope. The cars were always there but her awareness (of them) has changed. All of a sudden a switch has flicked and she’s now seeing what she didn’t before.

    So too it is with ‘reading’ people. When we go into familiar situations and environments with a totally different perspective, it’s amazing what we discover. You want to know what people really think? Pay attention.

    Warning: Don’t let your low self-esteem or propensity to find offence get in the way of the value in this message. Knowing how others see you or what they think of you should not come from a place of fear, insecurity or seeking approval but, rather, from a desire to create better connection, understanding and results in your world.

    And remember, I love you, even with your flaws.

    As always, love to hear your thoughts – even you long-time-lurking-non-commenting types!

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on September 15, 2020

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

    Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.

    Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done[1].

    We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?

    We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?

    Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.

    1. You’ll Never Have All the Information

    We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.

    Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.

    Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.

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    2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself

    We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

    We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.

    Give yourself more credit than that.

    You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?

    In the end, you were fine.

    Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.

    Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.

    3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

    Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.

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    When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.

    Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.

    When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?

    Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?

    4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result

    We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.

    However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.

    Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.

    Enjoy the process of moving forward[2].

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    5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity

    If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.

    Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.

    In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.

    If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.

    6. Effort Matters, So Use It

    It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.

    Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”

    Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”

    Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.

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    Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.

    And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.

    7. Start With Something Manageable

    You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.

    Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?

    Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?

    Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?

    You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.

    More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes

    Featured photo credit: Victor Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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