Sunday, August 19, 2012

What Others Think

After a presentation I had a person come to me and share that she enjoyed my talk.  She had preconceived me and my message one way, but after being in the audience for my most recent speech, she now had a new opinion.

It got me thinking about how quickly people judge others.  Sometimes we do it with limited information, other times with no information.  But this happens all the time.  How many folks are out there that carry skewed opinions of  our abilities and purpose.

Regardless of if you have thought about it or not, you have a reputation in your community. This can be hard for some folks to accept, as it is often beyond their control.  It can also be wrong.  Things like your job title, degree (or lack of degree), friends, age, etc... give people a superficial impression and they fill in the blanks with their own imagination.

Over time, your actions speak louder than your words.  Even if people are jumping to the wrong conclusions, your consistency will show the truth more than anything else you can do to "re-brand yourself".  But this means you must be visible.  Out of sight is out of mind, and people carry over their past ideas about who you are (regardless of accuracy).

When they are not in contact with you they file away their impressions and they do not modify these views as you grow and expand.  

People do change.  We learn from experiences.  We modify, grow and expand our abilities.  But perceptions of us are often set in stone.  If you have made mistakes or have done things wrong... yes, an active renovation is a good idea.  However, if your reputation concerns are based on others jumping to conclusions.... then I am not sure anything can be done.  You cannot go door to door and get into the heads of everyone you have ever encountered.

I have learned not to take it personally.  Only I can know my thoughts, feelings and intentions.... so when others make biting assumptions in these areas I realize it is about them, not me.  I can only try to make the right choices in my words and actions (oh, and yes,.... I can screw that up, too!).  My hope is that over time I can build understanding through my actions.

I am working to look deeper when I meet someone new (and give a fresh chance to those I already know).  Since I am not clairvoyant I push out any thoughts around my impressions of another's thoughts or feelings.

We cannot change others... but we can lead by example.  Three actions you can take:

1.  Do not make grand assumptions based on limited exposure.  

2.  Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.  

3.  Ask question about the whole person.  

The more we understanding the realities behind our impressions of others, the faster we can accept the mis-understandings that we find others to have when looking our way.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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