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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 June 26, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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