What do people say about you when you leave the room?

30/11/2022 What do people say about you when you leave the room?

Adam Max

If you’ve never thought about this question, you’re not alone. Most people haven’t. So why should you think about it at all? 

The answer is simple: it’s about understanding how people perceive you. When it comes to a brand, perception is everything. Their perception of you  – is your personal brand. 

Many people perceive the Cheetah as being the fastest animal in the world. There’s only one problem with that. It’s not true. In fact, the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal in the world, reaching speeds of up to 390 kph as it swoops down to capture its prey.

Here’s the thing: It’s not enough that the bird is faster. It’s not enough to be really good at something. The challenge is to create visibility and recognition for the things that you’re good at and like doing.

It’s about identifying, building, and then leveraging YOUR personal brand
Your brand is all about how others perceive you. It’s the words they associate with you. It’s about what they say about you when you leave the room.

No pressure, but everything we do (and don’t do) has an impact on how we’re perceived. Whether you’re perceived as friendly (like a cocker spaniel) or unfriendly (like a haughty bird of prey). Open and transparent, or a closed book. Proactive or reactive. 

All these things have an impact on how people perceive us. Our perception is our reality. And people behave based on this perception. If you’re not proactively managing the perception, if you’re not proactively managing your personal brand, then the perception is managing you. 

Let’s be clear: When we’re talking about branding, we’re not talking about bragging, showing off, or shameless self-promotion. What we’re talking about is helping people understand who we are. Why we matter. What value we bring. And we need do this in a way that is authentic.

Branding and relationships aren’t just about data. It’s about emotion.
Think about someone you work with. It could be a colleague, customer, or vendor. Someone you like. This creates one way of working. Now, think of someone you don’t like that much.  This creates a different way of working.  Chances are, to the first you thought, “Ah, yes, s/he is great” and to the second, “Ugh! S/he is really high maintenance.”

How you feel about them (and vice versa) is going to have a direct impact on how successful your working relationships are, which ripples out to the other people you both work with. Your reputation can and will precede you.

That’s why you really need to know what people say about you when you leave the room. Take a minute to consider this question. What THREE words do you think people would use to describe you?

Here are just a few for consideration (there are many more possibilities): Smart, caring, decisive, open-minded, flexible, honest, daring, empathetic, approachable, and ethical. 

Consider asking trusted colleagues, peers, or mentors. Or even friends and family, and then take a look at your list. Does what they said line up with what you thought they’d say?

Perception isn’t just about logic. Perception is about how we feel. There’s usually a gap between how we think we’re perceived and how we’re actually perceived. In other words, what they ACTUALLY say about you when you leave the room.

Are you one of the 15%?
Research shows that 70% of people think they have a brand, they know what it is, and they know what people say about them. But only 15% are actually right!

While we may think we’re perceived in a certain way, in many cases, there’s a gap. The gap could be cultural or based on different life experiences, values, or priorities. So, you may think you’re creating a certain perception while you’re creating something that’s slightly different.

Someone may be an expert, an absolute genius in their field. That’s great, right? However, some may perceive them as a know it all, show off, or arrogant.

Look for the opportunities to find out how you’re perceived. If you’re client-facing and want to be perceived as timely, you can ask your clients, “Do you find I respond quickly or on average? How comfortable are you with how I respond in comparison to the expectation?”

When you ask these questions, bear in mind what’s considered the norm in your culture, age group, office you work in, and the relationship you have with various individuals. 

When you have that mindset and awareness, then you’ll find the opportunities to get feedback. Sometimes you can even suggest a word … Do you think that I am? How happy are you with me in my role as …? What about this? Do you find that I’m this or that?

You may be surprised (pleasantly or otherwise) by the results.

Perception & introspection

Remember this: A personal brand is not built in a vacuum. Start by identifying the existing perception about you. Then you can move to the next step — introspection. Looking within to identify and create the authentic brand you want. 

Who do you want to be in the world?

Adam Max
Senior Consultant and Trainer

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