Looking in from outside
Other peoples perceptions of you may be significantly at odds with
your own view of yourself. Finding out what others think of you is
an important element of self-exploration, and helps you modify
your behavior so that you can take on opportunities that you
might otherwise have missed.
Psychometric tests, such as the widely used Myers Briggs, offer a
more scientific approach to self-understanding. These tests look at
personality and attempt to give an indication of the type of environment
in which an individual is likely to thrive. Myers Briggs Type Indicator
positions people against four pairs of factors:
• Extroversion and introversion
• Sensing and intuition
• Thinking and feeling
• Judging and perceiving.
There is nothing wrong with any of these personality traits. However,
if, for example, you are at the extreme end of the scale on “thinking,
you may be ignoring people’s feelings when you make decisions. If you
are a “perceiving“ rather than a “judging” person, you may need to set
more goals and deadlines for yourself.
In focus
Seeking new perspectives
You may feel you lack confidence, or that you are
too quiet, but others may see you primarily as
someone who is trustworthy, honorable, and
wise. Conversely, you may describe yourself as
assertive and confident, while others see you
as aggressive and avoid involving you in their
projects. Other people’s views are important
because they shape the way they behave toward
you. That’s not to say you should always aim
to please others, or change the person you
are, but being aware of how others see you will
enable you to change the signals you send out.
of employers in one
survey said they took
only 90 seconds to
decide to hire a person
Getting answers
The only way to find out what other
people think of you is to ask. Many
international companies use a process
called 360-degree feedback, which is a
formal means of eliciting comment from
colleagues, staff, and bosses. It is often
used to develop senior management
teams, but you can carry out a similar
process yourself on a smaller scale.
Approach people who see you in different
roles—perhaps your business partner,
work colleagues at the same level of
management, your immediate boss,
some of your suppliers and clients, and
a couple of friends. Think of the best way
to ask the questions: a questionnaire has
the advantage of ensuring consistency,
while structured face-to-face interviews
give respondents the opportunity to
elaborate, but may also inhibit honest
responses. When you are drafting a
questionnaire, keep it short and simple,
and concentrate on specific questions
that you really want answered, such as:
How confident do I appear to you?
Am I approachable?
Do I communicate clearly?
Using feedback
The feedback process won’t give you a
definitive view of what you are like in the
eyes of others, but it is certain to produce
some valuable insights. It’s too easy to
focus on criticisms when you see them
in black and white, so make sure that
you value and reflect on the positive
points that emerge, and use them in
your planning for the future.
Lasting judgments can be
made, based on subconscious
cues, within the first few
seconds of meeting. Think
about any visual cues you
display and the tone of voice
you use—these can often be
more significant than what
you actually say.

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