We May Not Know at All How We’re Being Perceived

Assumptions can prove accurate yet they can be off base too, maybe more often than not and when that happens, problems become more likely. That holds true in communication and relationships.

Amy Blaschka, writing in Forbes, shines a light on something that is important to know and remind ourselves of regularly.

“Don’t assume that you know how others perceive you.”

This is vital to learn.

Of course, most of us do that as a habit. When we do, however, it is more common to assume we’re being perceived negatively than in a favorable light. Yet I don’t believe that is what Blaschka is talking about.

With her statement (in bold lettering above), it appears she is inferring we assume we’re being perceived in a more positive, helpful manner than is true.

Blaschka astutely makes a point about it.

“What we think we’re projecting and how others are receiving our energy can be two very different things,” she writes.

What we’re projecting might be entirely different than what is received based on content, tone, facial expressions, tone, context of place and situation, as wells as our reputation.

Blaschka uses the phrase “our energy.” That too is a variable in communication and how people view and respond to us.

Different people have different expectations and their current emotional state also plays a role in how they will perceive you.

Blaschka does have recommendations to communicate in a way that can be more helpful in increasing the odds of how we will be viewed and felt.

“To bridge the gap, seek the input of others,” she writes. “Ask trusted colleagues how you came across in a meeting…”

That takes courage of course and is only useful if we do ask, and more than one person, maybe more, ask people who’s feedback we might be anxious about and finally, listen with poise, patience and a receptive, teachable mindset.

Blaschka is correct when she states “Be genuinely curious. And pay attention not only to their words but their body language. If something seems incongruent, there’s a high likelihood that something is amiss.”

The saying might be curiosity killed the cat yet it is through curiosity that we most learn about others and ourselves. Observing words used and not used, facial expressions and body language all provide important, safe-cracking communication and that information provides invaluable insight.

Michael Toebe is a specialist for reputation and crisis, with a focus on communications and risk management, serving organizations and high-profile people. He publishes the Reputation Times newsletter and has been published in Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, Corporate Compliance Insights, Training Industry and the New York Law Journal. He can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter @ReputationTalk.

Writing on reputation, risk, decision making and crisis in business, politics, sports, entertainment, higher ed, healthcare and social media.

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