In another of our chats with Craig, we’re discussing why self-perception versus other people’s perception is so important.
Craig, what’s the difference between self-perception and other people’s perceptions?
Self-perception is how I see myself, it’s what I think about myself, it’s how I believe I come across to another person. Others’ perception is the reality of how they view me, based on the evidence of their interactions with me. For example, I could believe that I am engaging, give great eye-contact and that I’m genuinely interested in others. However, the other person’s experience of me might be the opposite. They may see me as avoiding eye contact and just talking about myself.
Why do you think the perceptions might be different?
There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- insufficient interaction
- only seeing people in certain situations
- your map of the world; your values and beliefs may be different to mine
Another person’s perception of me is their reality of me. If I want to make a difference, I need to understand their reality when they’re interacting with me. I want to be curious and do something about that. I want them to understand my map of the world, and for me to understand theirs.
What techniques can help?
Johari’s window is a model/technique depicting the subject of perception. It’s like looking at a window of ourselves, split into four sections.
In the top left, we have our Open Area, where we understand ourselves – what we both know about me. For example, you know I’m a consultant. You know I play the drums. You know this because we’ve spoken about it.
In the top right corner, we have our Blind Spot. That’s the bit that’s known by you, but I’m not aware of it; of something I might do, because someone might not have told me. Someone’s self-perception can be distorted because they aren’t aware a blind spot exists.
The Hidden Area (bottom left) is what I know about me, but you may not know about me, because I’ve never told you. We’ve just never spoken of it.
The Unknown (bottom right) is what’s not known to either of us.
For both our perceptions of me to closely align, I need to grow my Open Area. I achieve this by engaging with you, offering you information about me, seeking feedback and being open to receiving that feedback. If I’m not open to feedback or don’t react well to it, you may not want to tell me, so it remains a Blind Spot.
Why does it matter if my perception of you is different from the one you hold of yourself?
If I do something every day which I believe I’m doing brilliantly, but if the other person doesn’t tell me it’s off-putting to them, I will never know. There’s accountability on both people to give and seek feedback. The more we seek and offer feedback, the greater the trust and the stronger the openness and honesty within that relationship.
If you understand there’s a difference in our perceptions, how do you make it better?
I choose to think, “What can I do to make it better?” I naturally want to improve the perception you have of me. I want to work hard to ensure that my interactions with you are positive and authentic. I personally want you to have a good perception of me, and to let me know if things I do, work or don’t work.
Have you ever changed your behaviour because of a difference in perceptions?
Yes, based on feedback. During the first lockdown, when I was at my absolute relentless ‘busyness’ my reaction to the ‘busyness’ and the unknown was to ramp up my energy to work harder, but not necessarily smarter. It took someone else to say, “Slow down, we’ll be ok,” for me to take a step back and reflect on the impact I was having on others. Focus on building relationships with people which allow them to feel comfortable to offer feedback.
Why is this important?
I want my self-perception to be built on fact and reality, not just what I have in my head. I want to know that I come across in an open and genuine way, that I care about others and that people see and understand this. I often think about what more I could do to improve. #SelfPerception