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Monday, April 16, 2012

People's Perceptions of You Do Not Define You...But It Does Have SOME Effect.

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew

There's an older man who works in the same suite as me, but we don't work on anything together.  He has a pretty strong accent and speaks very quietly.  I haven't had many conversations with him over the course of three years, but we had one last week that stuck with me.  

(I was filling up my water bottle in our kitchen area)
Man at work: Hello, how are you today?
Me: Good!  How are you doing?
Man at work: Well, I was good until I saw you.
(I was puzzled for a second before responding)
Me: Wait--because now you're great!
Man at work: You are the first person to get that right in a long time.  Everyone else sees it from a negative perspective.  

I'm not saying I always have a positive outlook, but many times I think people tend to assume the worst first.  I think for some people assuming the best forces them to be somewhat vulnerable.  That can be very scary, but it can also really pay off.  The same man was walking in at the same time as me the following day and brought up our conversation again.  

Man at work: Remember our conversation yesterday?
Me: Yes I do!
Man at work: I just wanted you to know that it means you're a bright and pleasant person.

I was having a rough day and not feeling well, but just hearing that put a smile on my face.  We're all entitled to bad days, but must know that how we act does have an impact on how people perceive us.  On top of that, how we act has a lot to do with how we perceive ourselves.  

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” 
― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

Another conversation stuck with me last week.
Male Friend: Do guys you meet get pissed off when they figure out that you're actually really smart?  I know a lot of guys probably think 'here's this little dumb blonde girl who will be my pet' when they first meet you."  
This person also happens to be a relative so I did not smack him. 

I will say that over the past year or so that I have in fact made a conscious effort to portray outwardly how I think of myself.  During the week, as mentioned in a previous post, I don't wear much make-up (if any) to work and I dress very conservatively.  I dress much more glamorous at times on the weekend, but I've noticed even the slightest changes in appearance (ie make-up) have changed how people treat me who I've just met.  I'm speaking in general as there will always be anomalies.  

By the way, if you didn't already know...I'm not a natural blonde.  :-O

"In terms of how other people treat us, a lot of it is based on how we treat ourselves.  Our words and actions in how they relate to ourselves is a giant, huge, massive road sign for how others treat us." -- www.seandfrancis.com

You can sit there and say "I know who I am and that's all that matters".  That's partially true.  You may be completely different than how others perceive you, however you might not always have the chance to showcase your true sides.  Unfortunately, people do make quick judgements.  With that in mind, you want to at least make sure that who you portray on the outside is not the complete and utter opposite of what you'd like people to think of you.  

--Sorry I had to do it.

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