Are You Looking in the Right Mirror? 4 Steps to Greater Personal Impact


I had a client come to me last month, highly upset.  She had begun working with two people who both had a PI almost identical to hers and she said, “Melanie, please tell me I don’t come across like those two!”  Unfortunately I could not tell her that due to the fact the descriptions she gave were identical to how many of her team members described her to me.  She was looking in a mirror and did not like what she saw.  It took stepping out of her own self to be able to see it.  In that moment, she vowed to make changes. 

Most of us have become rather comfortable with ourselves and our actions.  The motivations behind our actions come from the right place, in our own minds, but are those actions perceived the way we intend them to land on our team members?  The whole concept of “sender-receiver” can fall short when we are unaware of how differently the other person may interpret our words and actions.

Finding ways to tap into the way you are truly perceived by others can be an invaluable growth opportunity; not to mention a powerful engagement tactic when you involve your team. 

Step 1: Start by honestly assessing yourself.  How do you deliver messages?  Can you be abrupt and direct?  Are you overly verbose?  Do you provide clarity or are you vague; expecting others to fill in the blanks?  Do you talk with your team or at your team?  Do you criticize/point out issues privately or publically?  Do you acknowledge the good things your team members do, even if it is well within the scope of what is expected?  If you do acknowledge them, is it via email or face-to-face?  Do you begin your first email of the day with a salutation or do you get directly to the matter-at-hand with a brusque directive?  Do you allow for collaboration or does the decision stop with you?  Dig deep. 

How and who these types of direct and indirect messages are being delivered to matters greatly due to differences in perception. 

Step 2: Assessing the differences between you and your team members and colleagues.  When was the last time you compared your profile to those of your teams?  Have you done a comparison and assessed the differences?   Write down the factor combination differences, focusing on A:B, A:C and A:D relationships as these affect workplace relationships most directly.

Step 3:  Gather insight and perspectives from peers and team members.  Reach out to team members and/or friends and family and have an honest conversation about your style.  Explain that your ultimate goal is to more thoroughly understand how your style is perceived and ways in which you can develop as a person and team member.  Do not rely only on those with who you connect or know well.  Sometimes those people we do not fully understand can provide the most perspective. 

Ask them to share with you a few thoughts about how you come across to them.  Make it a safe environment (you can tell them all to go type and print a few thoughts and drop it in a box if you feel they will provide more honest statements this way).  Tell them you will have a follow up meeting in 1 month to discuss if they have seen any noticeable changes in your delivery.  Tell them it is an ongoing process and your goal is to make it a healthy, encouraging and productive environment for everyone.  SET A DATE.

If you are an A>B:

Give them examples, “As a manager you are overly critical of my errors but never appreciate all the good I do.”  “I don’t feel like you respect my work.”  “You can be very abrupt and aloof.  I have a hard time connecting with you.” 

If you are a B>A:

Give examples such as, “You can be too talkative when we have so much to do.”  “You get a little too personal.”  “You don’t provide me enough specific direction.”  “You ask me questions before I have had time to think about my answers.” 

Again, create a safe environment for input.  This is not a time to “defend yourself”; just listen. 

Step 4:  Spend the month being more aware of yourself and your actions based on the results and discussions.  Pay attention to the PI of your receivers and make adjustments where necessary.  If you feel comfortable enough to have people point out negatively perceived actions in the moment, do so!  There is no better way to become aware than to have it presented as the act is happening.  Be open.  Allow growth and watch as your team becomes more engaged and more productive.  After the month is up, gather the team and discuss!

"When you are looking in the mirror, you are looking at the problem. But, remember, you are also looking at the solution.” – Anonymous