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Designing Perceptions

You could be someone who moved into a new role or recently got promoted.

or You could be also self declared victim of being perceived wrongly by your peers and higher-ups.

Most importantly - You are someone who wants to create the right perception about who you are and what you bring to the table with the stakeholders you interact with. You don't want to leave this to chance.

Perception” is the way someone/something is regarded, understood or interpreted.

In the world of 360 feedback and peer reviews, it’s important that the perception one builds reflects who one truly is.

There are 4 key things that one must be aware while designing perceptions

  1. 'Perception' is sensory. So whatever you do, has to be recognised by other’s eyes & ears at the minimum. Your thoughts/intentions are not enough.

  2. Depending on the sensitivity and the awareness levels of other people, creating perception needs consistent actions rather than one time gimmicks.

  3. Underlying the core of what builds the right perception is who you really are in essence, how you show up authentically, in a way that is consistent with your value system.

  4. Perception happens at the intersection of you and others. Leadership at higher levels needs one to have this blend - to stand up for oneself and also take people along.

So how would one go about designing perceptions?

  1. Self-awareness: Knowing who you are, your place in this world, your non-negotiable values, your passion and your drivers is self-awareness. Being authentic and consistent requires one to be self aware. Once you are self-aware, you need to define what kind of a perception you would like others to have about you? Its easier to say that I don’t want to be perceived this way. However its hard work in finding how is that you would like to be perceived? The easiest way to define that would be to start with your strengths, passion. Write them down. Find what you admire in other leaders. Write them down. Pick top 3 and that’s the starting point.

2. Self-disclosure: We have all played the game 'hide-and-seek' in our childhood. Building perceptions work on “Show and tell” model. So if you are of the belief that you will hide somewhere and the rest of the world will come and seek for you like hide and seek, you are wrong. You need to speak up and voice out who you are, what you do and what value you bring to the table.

3. Showing-up: There is an energetic signature with which each of us shows up. Now if you show up in a state where others feel uplifted, then there is a high chance that they feel a positive vibe around you. This is not to say that one needs to show up with dramatic positive energy. Even a calming, neutral influence is good enough. Drainer energy/complaining are a no-no.

4. Execution: What you do and how you do it are execution markers that stand the test of perceptions. This is where the rubber hits the road. When your actions are aligned with your intentions, there is no greater magnet than that to establish a positive impression.

5. Assumptions: Assumptions are beliefs we hold true irrespective of whether in reality they are true or not. When you see that the perception about you is not right - it's prudent to evaluate whether there is something in your control that you could do better rather than judging the other person to be at fault. We waste precious amount of energy in guessing what’s in other’s minds. It’s easier to ask when in doubt. Drop assumptions that do not serve you.

Having checked all the above, there could be a a delta gap between what your ideal perception is and what you have right now. Thats ok and its always a journey to bridge the gap.

What's the one thing that you will consciously act on to build a better perception for yourself?

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