Monday, June 15, 2009

How do people experience you?

Think about the first time you heard your own voice on tape.
Odds are, your initial reaction was, “Is THAT what I sound like?”

Now think about the first time you watched yourself on video.
Odds are, your initial reaction was, “Is THAT what I look like?”

Don’t worry. That’s a pretty normal response.

Most of us – when given an honest, accurate reflection of the way we present ourselves to the others – are startled by our own lack of self-awareness.

We can’t believe that’s actually us. And not just on audio and video. For example, think about some of these other silent dialogues:

o “Did I really say that?”
o “Is that really the way I came off?”
o “I didn’t realize I was making you feel that way.”
o “I had no idea that’s what people thought of me…”

Ever said one of those to yourself before?

I know I have. Probably once this week already. And I’d be willing to bet that most people have too...

These kinds of perceptions exist in your “Blind Spot.” Cognitive psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham defined this term in 1955 as, “Aspects of ourselves that others see, but we are not aware of.”

And so, the challenge becomes making a concerted effort to unalienate yourself from your truth.

Because too many of us – and even I’m guilty of this on occasion – demonstrate a complete and utter unwillingness to understand (1) How other people experience us, and (2) How other people experience themselves in relation to us.

And the danger of this pattern of behavior is that it prevents people from asking questions of, listening to, learning from and getting to know you.

Not good.

So, maybe it’s time to run honest self-appraisal.

Maybe it’s time to get bitten by the bug of self-awareness.

Or, as Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams reminds us, “Awareness means recognizing your illusions for what they are.”`

HERE’S THE REALITY: The only judgment people can make – the only impression their unconscious mind can form – is how interacting with you makes them FEEL.

And ultimately, it doesn’t matter what YOU think, it matters what THEY remember.

So, I’m challenging you to (honestly) ask yourself four questions:

1. How do people experience you?
2. How do (you want) people to experience you?
3. How do people experience themselves when they’re with you?
4. How do (you want) people to experience themselves when they’re with you?

Take some time this week to physically write out your answers to those questions.

Reflect on whether your inner experience matches how others experience you.

This will serve as the perfect starting point in the development of your new-found self-awareness.

Then, once you’ve taken enough self-stock, the next step will be actually OPENING yourself to the reality of how your behavior affects the people around you.

That’s the cool part of starting down the rewarding path of self-awareness. Once you know your patterns – once you know how others experience you – you’ll start to see the following positive changes in your world:

o You gain the power to grow.
o You represent yourself better to others.
o You become safer for others to be around.
o You become someone others could tell anything.
o You become perceived as listenable and askable.
o You make a stronger emotional impact on others.
o You encourage a more positive perception of yourself.
o You deepen your ability to consider and weigh alternatives.
o You give others the knowledge they need to love you more.
o You meet WITH, speak TO and touch people where they are.
o You hold yourself accountable for your contributions to your encounters.
o You find out where you suck, that way you can close the perception gaps between you and those you serve

Sound good?

Cool. Good luck.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How do people experience you?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

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