Most people don’t have a good handle on how they are perceived. However, understanding this is critical to success. Personal brand is a buzzword in corporate America. Your personal brand is your value proposition and competitive advantages. You may know what you want your brand to be, but do you know what your “perceived brand” is? You’ve all heard that perception in reality. You need to ensure that your brand = your perceived brand. So how do you do that? Try one or all of these five ways:
- Ask for feedback. But don’t end there. Ask for clarification and probe for more information. For example, let’s say you just gave a presentation. You ask your colleague who was in the audience “how did I do?” You’ll probably get the answer “good”. You will get more information if you ask for feedback this way: “do you think the audience received my presentation as informative? Were they engaged? Why or why not?”
- Listen when you are receiving unsolicited feedback. Many people respond to feedback with a defense. If you really want information that will help you succeed, then sit on your hands, bite your tongue and really listen to what the person is telling you. Whether you agree with it or not, they are telling you how you are perceived. And now you are getting somewhere. There’s a great book called “Where’s the Gift” by Nigel Bristow. It’s a quick read and will help you understand how to get the feedback you need.
- Have someone you trust ask others for feedback. Some folks are uncomfortable being direct with you, but may be more revealing when speaking with someone else.
- Have a “360 review” done through your human resources department. A 360 review is a survey of people you work with such as your manager, colleagues, business partners, clients and those you manage…hence the “360 degrees”. Many corporations have these tools. These are great because people typically take the time to think of their answers and are more willing to provide constructive criticism. Your company doesn’t provide this? Survey people yourself. You can ask people to tell you your strengths and weaknesses. Tell them you are doing it for personal development and encourage them to give you constructive feedback.
- Take a course that uses exercises such as video taping, group exercises and assessment tools. While scary, it is one of the best ways to create self-awareness and how you are perceived. Several years ago I took a 5-day course on Women’s Leadership at the Center for Creative Leadership. One of the exercises was to be in a meeting with my classmates and discuss a case and agree on a resolution while being videotaped. It revealed a few things to me: 1.) I was dominating the conversation; 2.) Others had good ideas but weren’t willing to compete with me for air time; 3.) I thought I was being persuasive but others took it as debating. There are many things I took from that exercise which I still think about several years later. While horrifying to see myself in a way I never have, I began to learn new skills that are more productive.
Knowing what people really think of you reveals your roadblocks to success. Understanding who you are and how others perceive you will contribute greatly to identifying where you excel and what you need to work on.
Good luck in getting to know you!