How Do Others Perceive You In The Workplace?
The Starting Point
If we should ever meet, check out my fingernails. Seriously. They’re my pride and joy. Not because they’re long, elegant, beautifully manicured (they’re not!), but because I have them.
You see, as a child / young teenager, I chewed my nails. And chewed them a bit more. And chewed them even further still (if I do something, I like to do it well – always have done – always will do). My parents were at their wits end. They tried everything. They ran the whole spectrum from cajoling to intimidating (just for the record, I never did believe the one about the nail clippings gathering into one huge mass in my stomach and causing me untold grief). There was a brief spell of painting my fingernail … mmmmm, well, let’s call them “remnants” … with some revolting bitter tasting gloop which simply served as a minor inconvenience for a while.
The Turning Point
Then one day, my eldest sister came to visit and announced that she was getting married and that she wanted me and our other sister to be bridesmaids and “… won’t that be great – all girls together – such fun …”
I was 14 old. Vast swathes of my life were being spent declaring “… it’s not fair …” Vast swathes of my poor Mother’s life were being spent declaring “… don’t you dare look at me in that tone of voice, young lady …” I was loud; I was gawky; I was “angular” (still am!). No – it would not be fun!
I remember begrudgingly shuffling my way through the service and enduring the mind-numbing ignominy of the obligatory photo’ session. My sister still has a picture, taken by a guest, which shows the “official” photographer with his hands on my shoulders trying to manoeuvre me into position. If looks could kill, dear reader, if looks could kill … And, I found myself a nice corner to occupy throughout most of the reception where I could sit and gently glower.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, some weeks later (yes, weeks – very little was “instantaneous” back in the early 70’s), the “Wedding Album” arrived which prompted another visit from my sister so that we could gather round and re-live the happy occasion (deep joy). And there it was. One particular photo’. An “arty-farty” affair involving the bride and her bridesmaids with their bouquets “tastefully” arranged. And I saw them. My hands. More specifically – my nails!
And that was that. No more nail biting. I’d be fibbing if I said it stopped overnight, and there were a couple of lapses, but to all intents and purposes I was no longer a nail chewer.
So – what happened? Why did a photo’ provoke my “Road To Damascus” experience when all the time I only had to look down at my hands – permanently attached to the end of my arms for goodness sake – to see how dreadful my nails were?
It was because I got to see myself as others saw me. I saw myself as I was perceived.
That’s why we film participants during our Effective Communication workshops, so people can get to see how they are seen (and heard) by others. That’s why our behaviour workshops explore the impact individuals have on those around them, so that people can gain an understanding of how they are “received” by others (why some relationships are easier than others).
If you’d like to discover how you relate to the rest of the world and how the rest of the world relates to you, then check out our Effective Conversations workshop Just like nail biting – bad habits can be broken and replaced with good ones.
Photo Credit: Unsplash