Who Are You?

A good question. And a question everyone needs to be able to answer. And also not a question a lot of people can actually answer in reasonably, comprehensive fashion.

Who you are is not only a question of name, address, age and gender. It is a question of how you want to position yourself and how do you brand yourself. There are three stages that are very important to understand.

  1. How people perceive you based on past experience with you
  2. How people perceive you based on recent experiences with you
  3. How you actually want to be perceived

Everyone ever trying to get promoted, elected, or hired has been negatively impacted by an outside perception. We see this all the time when nice people are trying to run for office, it is amazing how much negative impressions and topics surface. During election this dirty laundering is a public event. During promotion times the laundering happens behind closed doors and is not always made transparent to the person it actually effects. This is good and bad. If you are oblivious to how people perceive you it is easier not to react and stay your own personal self without getting nervous around managers. However, if you do have desires to be promoted or getting any other type of advancements it is important to understand perceptions of you and manage those actively.

How do you manage perceptions?

First of all, be your best. Treat others nicely. Have a service oriented mind set. Be open, friendly, but show that you are able to carry your own opinion. Be social.

In a professional setting you need to be aware of how you move, act, and in particular react. This is particular important if you fall into certain stereotypable categories that can make you subject to biased opinion. If you are of a certain age, be extra aware of how you are perceived with regards to flexibility, technology, and interests. If you are female in a primarily male oriented group, the same applies. Or for me as a German in the US, I need to understand that my cultural background, my overly overt honesty, and the way I talk is often perceived as arrogant or aggressive. While I also wish stereotyping was a thing of the past, it is not very realistic to think we are not working in a biased environment.

I once on a social side read the comment. Do not J A D E, when someone disagrees with you. JADE stands for

J = Justify
A = Argue
D = Defend
E = Explain

The biggest negative impression is created in a professional setting when people are overly defensive and argumentative. When people go into wordy explanation on why they did what they did. “Jading” is at its best annoying and at its worst a career killer.
You might be more intelligent or more right then the person disagreeing with you, but it does not make you the better person. Working together is not a competition on who wins the argument or who is smarter, it is about how do we actually move the company forward. Always follow the little thinking model when in a group setting:

  • What is good for the business and organization?
  • What is good for the team?
  • What is good for me?

So, who do you want to be?

The person who is more interested in making himself look good, the one who does not seem to able to receive criticism, feedback, or input and is also defensive. Or a person who can really navigate a group and solve problems?

It is up to you.


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