Monday, February 6, 2017

What Others Really Think About You

Were you the smartest kid in school? The funniest? The most athletic?

It's a little strange to think that we like to label people from an early age. What's even more strange is how some of us like to label ourselves -- to the detriment of our own happiness or career success.

One of the problems with seeing yourself in a certain way is that often it's not how others see you. For example, you may consider yourself a real problem-solver, able to jump in and find a solution to just about anything.

But other people view you as a know-it-all, someone who doesn't listen to others for different ideas.

So when a new project rolls around, you feel like you're the best choice for the new assignment and await word from your boss that you got the job. But the boss never talks to you. Why? Because she talked to your colleagues who told her they'd rather listen to fingernails on a chalkboard all day than sit through one meeting with you.

Now you have a label that isn't so flattering. You're no longer a problem-solver, but someone who can't collaborate. An obnoxious know-it-all.

Of course, the good news is that you get a clue that you need to work on establishing a much better professional reputation and immediately focus on listening and collaborating more.

For many people, however, they go through much of their professional lives not really understanding how others see them. They have no clue about their reputation among others, a severe oversight that can cause them to miss out on opportunities -- and earning potential.

If you're clueless about your professional reputation (and believe me, many people are), then it's time to think about what you're doing to ensure it stays positive. Consider:

  • In the last year, how many times did you learn something new? Were these moments that you learned from someone else? If so, it shows your willingness to listen -- a key trait among successful people.
  • How many times in the last two weeks have you gone out of your way to help someone else? If you never offer a helping hand, you could be garnering a reputation of being ungenerous and selfish.
  • Your pet peeves. If you're irked by tardiness, for example, have you made sarcastic or snide comments to the colleague who shows up late for work every day? Did you lose your temper when a team member was late turning in a report? In either of these cases, losing your temper or being snarky doesn't help a professional reputation, but discussing it in a clear manner will help you be seen as a good communicator who is able to resolve conflicts.
  • Showing respect. Do you interrupt people when they're talking? Do you answer emails on your smartphone in a meeting? Do you talk loudly to a colleague when a nearby team member is trying to have a phone conversation? These are just some of the ways that you tell others that you're not really interested in them and don't respect their time or work. 

Never forget that your reputation can take a nosedive if you're not careful. A reputation is critical for career success, and no one should just assume that others see them in a positive light. Start assessing your behavior today to see if it's time to make improvements.

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