Perception is Reality
Change How They See You by Changing You
How you’re perceived affects how people interact with you. It influences their actions, their attitudes, and what they’re willing to do for you. Perception is indeed everything, and most people you’ve met have probably developed an opinion of you already. A first impression affects how someone sees you for a long time. It can be based on how you dress, what you do, and what you say. Unfortunately, we have no control over how people perceive us. Don’t worry though, while it’s nearly impossible to change how people perceive things, we can definitely change what they perceive.
If you get feedback about yourself that you don’t agree with and believe the other person’s impression of you is wrong, it is difficult to change their mind simply by talking about it. People hate being told the way they perceive things is wrong, so it’s generally much easier to change yourself.
In a previous post, I talked about dressing for the role you want. If others say you don’t look professional, all you can change is you – and your clothes. Your boss isn’t going to magically see your old gray hoodie as a tuxedo, so level up your wardrobe. Think about it: if you’re presenting to an audience and they don’t understand your content, that’s on you. It’s the same thing here.
Now, I’m not saying you should do anything outside of your means (you shouldn’t), but if you want to be a leader, you need to grow and change. Small changes go a long way because you’re breaking someone’s paradigm of you, and creating a new paradigm for yourself. You won’t get where you want by ignoring feedback, but if you truly listen and make genuine changes, you’ll get results. If you don’t want to change, that’s fine, but certain doors might not be open to you – or you may have to go to a different industry where you’ll be perceived differently.
That said, don’t take feedback from anyone you don’t respect or don’t think is being genuine. If someone gives you feedback that angers you, take a day, step away, and think about it. Decide how you feel tomorrow. If you get the same advice from multiple people, well, you might be the problem. If you’re unsure, ask more people what they think. Also, some critiques reveal more about the speaker than about you, and that might tell you that you shouldn’t work for them anymore. Once you’ve decided, take it on yourself to improve the situation and lead by example. The work involved in changing someone else’s perception is on you, not the other person, so do like Gandhi says and “be the change.”