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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 August 6, 2019

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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