Is Their Perception Your Reality?

I recently got some feedback. I’ll admit it. It stung. At first, I had a case of the “ya, but’s.” “Ya, but she doesn’t know that I did this,” and “ya, but he does this, too, and it’s not an issue.”  I then took a minute and let the feedback set in. It was explained that there was a certain perception of me and it was limiting my potential and growth. I thought more about that and wondered if their perception was a reality. I thought about what I was going to do to change that perception.

When someone has a perception of you, there’s a good chance it is formed because there are expectations that are not being met. There is a break down in communication or a lack of understanding of the tasks at hand that cause perceptions to be formed.

You have a couple of options when someone has a perception of you that you feel may be unfair or untrue. You can be bitter and decide to not do anything about it. If that’s the case, I have some good friends who can help you with your new job search. But, if you saved some room for a little humble pie, there are a few things you can do to turn this around.

First, address the feedback head on. Seek to understand where the perception is coming from. Get clear on where you may be falling short and take the time to clear up any misconceptions. If there is truth to the feedback, own it. Have regular touch points and make sure you are asking for feedback. You can’t fix something if you’re not aware of it. 

Next, come to agreement on expectations. Take a few chapters out of Peter Block’s Flawless Consulting and contract for what needs to be accomplished and how you can be a better partner. Ask great questions and get clarity on what you will deliver and be intentional on what you need from the other person. Too many times, we agree to things we know we can’t deliver. Don’t set yourself up for failure or over-commit to something you know you will under-deliver.

Finally, drop the ego. It doesn’t matter if you have been doing your job for 2 years or 20. There is always room for improvement and learning. There are different view points and new ways of doing things. We have blindspots and lack awareness and getting feedback is the best way to overcome them.

Perception is someone else’s reality. You need to make a decision about how you want to address those perceptions. Use the feedback as a time for reflection, a chance to improve, and a chance to learn.

As my good friend always used to tell me, “Don’t be bitter, be better!”



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