Tag: opinions

Managing Perceptions

Good day, team.

This week’s challenge is about managing people’s perceptions. The following blog post by Robert Curtiss, actor and psychotherapist, is from www.backstage.com. It got me thinking about how people perceive one another.

“How What You Do Affects How You’re Perceived

“Behavior is a mirror in which everyone shows his own image.” — Chinese fortune cookie

“I recently read the saying above on the ‘fortune’ in my fortune cookie, and it reminded me of other similar sayings, such as ‘Actions speak louder than words’ and ‘You are what you do.’ All of these sayings boil down to the same simple truth: We show the world what kind of people we are by what we do. Literally. How we treat others, how we look, how we manage our time are some ways, to list a few. Our behavior gives powerful nonverbal messages to others that tell them what to think about us. After all, they may say, ‘Never judge a book by its cover,’ but we all make assessments and judgments based on the available evidence before us. Knowing this can help us shape how others perceive us.

“Our attire and our personal hygiene send strong messages. People may not consciously note that you look clean and neat, but they definitely notice when you are sloppy or otherwise not well-groomed.

“How we manage our time sends a powerful message too. When we are on time, we are showing others that we are ready and eager for our appointment. Whereas when we are late, we may give the impression that we do not value other people’s time, and we are not responsible. This may not be true, but it leaves a lasting impression.

“When we are kind to others and offer them care and concern, our actions reflect kindly upon ourselves, and when we speak about others behind their backs, it says to others that we probably talk about them behind their backs as well.

“How do you perceive yourself, and how do you want to be perceived by the world? Think about that. Think of ways to behave that promote that perception in yourself and in others.”

This subject comes up frequently in my coaching sessions. People often feel judged unfairly by their co-workers. They hear comments that they’re convinced are off base, or they know that others are forming opinions about them that aren’t true. For example, one of my clients was told by his boss recently that he had to let one of his team members go because of poor performance. My client was aware that his team member needed to improve and was working with him to do this. But too much time had gone by, and the manager decided it was time for that person to leave the company.

When it came time to terminate the team member, my client told him why he needed to leave. The team member took the news professionally and gracefully left the company. But the rest of the team was unhappy that their teammate was asked to leave. They were incredibly angry with my client for terminating him, assumed the termination was his sole decision and accused him of unfairly treating their teammate.

As my client said to me, “I could have easily told everyone that my boss made me do this, but it’s my responsibility to manage this team effectively, and it didn’t seem right to hand the blame off to someone else. However, now I have a much bigger problem. The team doesn’t trust me, and I’m being perceived as a tyrant rather than a fair boss.”

This is a classic case of misperception. What people see is a reflection of their understanding. When we only see something from a limited viewpoint, we draw conclusions that are not true. My client will have to be consistent in treating his team members fairly to increase their understanding of who he is and how he works if he wants to change their current perceptions of him.

Ironically, it’s not my client who suffers the most in this scenario. He’s really not a tyrant, and so whatever perceptions others have of him in this vein, he’s not bound by. It’s the team members who have created these negative perceptions that suffer the most in their inability to see who he really is.

As William Blake, the great poet and engraver wrote, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

This week, ask yourself if your perceptions of others are accurate. Are you basing your opinions on real facts and direct observations of each person’s actions? Maybe, like in the case of my client, someone is not really responsible for a decision but is actually acting on someone else’s instructions and doing the best they can. Are you only focusing on someone’s weaknesses and not their strengths? Or are you so opinionated about something that you can’t see someone else’s point of view? Does this make you right and the other person wrong? Is a situation actually someone else’s fault or are there many more things to consider?

Try opening up your doors of perception. You’ll see that many possibilities exist beyond the ones that come immediately to mind. If you can remember what it’s like to be judged unfairly, you may be able to look at others with a more open mind. You may just find that when you take another look at the person, things look differently.

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer

Have a good week,


© Copyright 2014 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

9/2/12 “Do unto others”

Good day, team.

This past week, I’ve been thinking about how many of us constantly try to influence others to adopt our point of view. We try to convince others that the way we see something or the opinions we have are correct. We want others to see or think of something in the same way we do, so we work to sell them on our ideas and attitudes.

Just look at what happens at political conventions — candidates and their supporters make speech after speech trying to convince voters that their way of thinking is correct, with lots of examples to support their thinking. These speeches often contain both facts and falsehoods to convince the audience. The candidates position themselves as being right and the opposition as being wrong. Over the years, we have increasingly seen our political candidates criticizing the opposing party to gain the advantage in the election. Personally, I find this kind of negative advertising to be counter productive because it creates a lot of fear in people. Fear can be used as a strong motivator, but I don’t believe that fueling fear in people is a good way to win elections. In the end, none of us are better off.

What is often forgotten here is that behind all the opinions and influential statements are real people. The following paragraph from a recent post on Ramble, Ramble, a blog written by a woman named Ginger, says this so well:

“There is a PERSON behind the things you are saying. When you say that all liberals or all conservatives … when you say that all Democrats or all Republicans … when you say that ALL of any group is/says/does/thinks/behaves/believes/hates/loves/etc., you are saying that about real people. Honest to goodness, flesh and blood people. Not just ideologies. Not just platforms. Not just issues. Not just politicians. Your friends. Your family. Your neighbors. Your co-workers.”

I see this same phenomenon occur within teams at work. It’s not uncommon for members of different teams to disagree. They may want the same outcome, but the way they want to go about getting that outcome can be quite different. For example, let’s say that the accounting manager and the marketing manager disagree about how much money should be spent on a new marketing campaign. It won’t take long before the accounting manager starts making some derogatory remarks about the marketing manager to his or her own team of accountants. This type of speech, meant to influence others on the team, may make the accounting manager feel better and more justified in the moment. When we feel strongly about something, we want others to agree with us. We don’t want those marketing people to spend too much money on a bogus campaign. We want them to stay within the budget we outlined. So the accounting manager forgets that the marketing manager is a peer and that they both are part of the same overarching team. Instead, it feels okay to throw the marketing manager under the bus to make things right. But what happens when someone on the accounting team is asked to give the marketing department some information? This person might have an immediate negative reaction because of what his or her boss has said about the marketing manager. In our desire to get people to think and act the way we want them to, we sometimes overlook the negative impact that our influencing can have on others.

I often ask myself these three questions when I feel strongly about letting others know what I think or feel:


Is it worth doing damage to someone else just to be able to express my opinions?

Am I trying to convince other people to come over to my side of the argument?

What good results can come from this conversation?

When I hear people speak negatively about someone else, it always makes me feel sad. When I see a gang of people bully another group of people because they disagree with them, I feel outraged. When I observe myself thinking negative thoughts about someone I don’t understand, I feel irritated. None of these feelings help me in my life. They tend to seep into my state of heart and mind and pollute my inner peace and wisdom. When I try to influence someone to think poorly or negatively about another to build up my side of an argument, I end up feeling that negativity within myself.

This week, see if you’re trying to influence others against someone else. Maybe it’s in an aggressive way, making yourself look good and your opposition look bad, just like politicians do in their speeches. Or maybe it’s in a passive aggressive way by making side comments that incriminate someone you disagree with or think is stupid. Ask yourself whether you are helping the team by trying to influence others in this way. Is it worth the momentary pleasure that makes you feel as though you’re winning an argument or recruiting others to take your side? Does the feeling of “I’m right and you’re wrong” actually help all of the team meet its goals and get the results needed?

Of all the statements my mother repeated to me over and over again as I was growing up, this classic stands out: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This week, my challenge is to take my mother’s good advice and apply it to my speech and sharing of opinions. I encourage you to do the same.

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2012 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249