Cast by the Perception of Others

We each want to be seen in the best light by all.  But in order to be true to ourselves, we must take actions at some point that some will not like.  It isn’t possible to get through life without making choices and in the act of choosing, turn aside from the other option and potentially those we know who prefer that other option.

Especially in our current culture of criticism, we each could become nearly paralyzed in fear of upsetting others by our choices or actions.  What good does paralysis do for any of us – individually or as part of any level of a community?

My favorite question that I ask myself, that I use to view a situation, that I apply to my interactions with others is ‘What is the intent?’.  I can use the resulting information that I glean to make my determination.  Regardless of the action that I choose, my behavior will be perceived differently by each person affected or aware of my action.

“To work one’s imagination on someone else is evil.”

~Jeannette Haien, The All of It


I am currently reading The All if It and found this quote arresting.  I don’t know if I would go quite so far as to claim evil on the part of others whose perceptions are off the mark, but we certainly do owe it to others within our realm of influence to carefully consider all the aspects that go into creating that perception.

I once had a very intelligent and capable employee who could tend into negative attitude territory.  I had several comments from other managers that this employee had been seen lingering in the break room on many occasions.  This employee wanted to be promoted so as part of that conversation with the employee, I mentioned the perception of the other managers.  The employee asked why this mattered and I explained that even if this break room behavior was only a sliver of the employee’s day but that was all that other employees and managers saw, then it would be all that they had to create a perception of this person.  The employee needed to make an effort to promote a positive impression through work achievements.  As a former manager of mine liked to say, we all need to build our own fan club.


None of us has control as much control as we would like of the perception that others will hold of us, but we have control over how we formulate our own perceptions.  Have you ever laid blame at the feet (or on the head) of a service provider like a server, cashier, or customer service rep because of the overall effect that your experience with the company?  How fair was that to the actual person that you encountered?

For ourselves, we can ensure that we have a compelling argument for our actions and words – based on our own clearly defined ethics or methods.  In relation to interacting with others, it would be wise to separate the person from the parts of the experience that the person has little or no ability to control.

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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Filed under Personal Growth, Work Life

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