Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rectify Any Negative Perceptions of You in the Workplace

I remember the moment in junior high school when I had an epiphany about my public image. Contrary to my belief that no one was talking to me, I realized that I wasn’t talking to anyone.

At that moment I determined to be the first to speak to my fellow students and to appear to look “open” to talking to others.

I wish I could say that, with my new outgoing persona, I became very popular. But that wouldn’t be the truth. I still had hair that wouldn’t rat, not very fashionable clothes, and in general wasn’t a very “cool” kid. Yet I did make friends and – all-important in those days – have other kids to sit with in the lunch room.

What does this story from long ago have to do with your career goals now? Perception. In other words, what you may think is how people perceive you may be very far from the actual truth of how they perceive you.

In my March 20th post I talked about thinking you smile at work when other people do not perceive the expression on your face as a smile.

This same disconnect between people’s perception of you and your own perception of you can cause unnecessary problems in the workplace. It’s important to be alert to signs that this disconnect is operating.

For example, let’s suppose your boss says to you that you’re never on time to work. You can’t believe this! You’re always on time. But, wait, the following morning you pay attention to figuring out how the boss might have this misconception. Lo and behold, you realize that, while you’re always at the office on time, you’re also always at the coffee machine when the clock strikes 9.

Yes, you have a problem of perception that only you can solve. In this scenario, you have two choices: Get in early enough to grab your coffee and still be at your desk at 9. Or buy coffee somewhere on the way in so that you can be at your desk at 9.

Regardless of how good a job you’re doing, if your boss has a negative perception of you, your chances for raises and career advancement will be adversely impacted.

Always make sure you’re open to finding out any disconnects between the perceptions people at work have of you and your perceptions. Then work hard to correct any negative perceptions.

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