There are many reasons why you would want to improve people's perception of you.
Maybe you feel like people constantly get a wrong impression of you -that you're often misunderstood.
Perhaps you're a little reserved and have to deal with people who arrive at a wrong conclusion and assume you're a snob.
Or maybe you made a mistake in the past that has caused people to hold on to a negative image of you that's no longer true.
Whatever the case, here are some tips on how to improve people's perception of you and improve your relationships with others.
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Sometimes we wonder why people might seem cold with us, why there might be a change in a relationship that seemed good in the beginning.
There's something important to understand on this issue.
Each of us has a self-concept. Our self-concept is composed of the beliefs we have about ourselves and the responses of others.
It's a mental picture of who you are as an individual and how people generally react to you.
For example, self-concept could be reflected in phrases such as:
'I am a good friend'.
'I am a trustworthy person'.
'I am good with people'.
When we experience life-changing events, they can alter our self-concept.
Afterwards, something that is often unknown to us happens - our communication changes, and people respond to us differently.
Although we are experiencing changes that are natural, others may become unsettled or confused about our changing behaviour. This is normal too - people like predictability and don't tend to respond well to uncertainty within their personal relationships.
Personal growth is important, but sometimes it causes friction. The tips in this article apply to these situations too.
The simple answer is that first impressions are often wrong.
People might be quick to judge you because they don't know much about you.
But don't get it wrong - you still have a lot of power.
When you improve your people skills and get a better understanding of how people behave, you can improve people's perception of you.
I highly recommend taking the Creative Live course Master Your People Skills by Vanessa Edwards.
I love this course because it teaches you skills to become the most memorable person in the room. One of the ways Vanessa achieves this is by sharing ways to project yourself in a highly respectable and attractive way.
In the course, Vanessa asks the question:
How are you most misunderstood by the world?
In other words, what do you wish people understood about you?
As Vanessa explains, when we meet someone, all we really want is for them to understand us. We want them to see who we are and to appreciate us for that.
One great tip I learned from Master Your People Skills is a very important aspect of harnessing charisma - learning to trigger dopamine. You want to make people feel rewarded, positive, and delighted when they are with you.
Aim to radiate kindness. Show genuine interest and speak about things that others care about. People love talking about themselves and they appreciate people who tactfully give them opportunities to do so.
Relax your body and listen. People remember those who actually listened to them, and they think of such people very fondly.
I'd like to give you an idea of how to actually implement this by sharing two interesting ways to improve people's perception of you...
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of No One Understands and What to Do About It, shared two interesting methods of improving the way people view you:
The Tortoise Method
This approach takes into consideration that the process of somone changing of their view of you is a gradual one that will occur over a long period of time.
If you've built a reputation as being aloof, for instance, someone's perception of you will not change just because you try to change things and smile the next two times you see them.
This is because people will normally try to discount information that doesn't fit with their preconceived notion about you. And I'm sure this is true of you when it comes to other people's actions. We need time for people to build up our trust in them.
So if you want people to change their perception of you, you have to be continuously friendly and likeable, and really make it a habit. It might take a few months, but people will really start believing you are not the cold and aloof person they thought you were.
Be patient. It's proven that when you make it a pattern, people's opinion of you will change.
The Hare Method
This creative method relies on outcome interdependency - the idea that in order to get what I want, I need you to do something.
This approach usually requires collboration, you need to put yourself in a situation where you're working together with someone, e.g. on a project.
Unconsciously, through working together, both people start making an effort to get an accurate view of the other person.
Have you ever noticed this?
I have. Both in my case and with others.
People often say that they thought so and so was like this, until they were in a situation that put them in close proximity over a period of time.
All of a sudden they start to admire that person.
What do we learn from this? If you can find a way that someone needs you for something, it can cause that person to reassess their perception of you to a more positive one.
Let's take an example of one place where you might want to improve people's perception of you - the workplace.
Negative perceptions in the workplace can create a tense atmosphere where it's hard to be productive.
Here are some things you can do to manage negative perceptions in your work environment:
Face the issue head on
If you know you've made a poor impression at work, aim to address the issue as soon as possible. For example, if you've offended a colleague, reach out to them and apologize. If you don't address a negative perception, it will just keep growing in people's minds. Being upfront and honest is the best way to go about it. I also learned this idea when I looked into the science of negotiation.
Ask for Feedback
Avoid the temptation to dismiss what the other person is saying. Asking for feedback is good for two reaons. First, it helps you better understand the other person's perception so you can address it. Secondly, it shows that you genuinely care about improving the relationship. If someone makes a complaint about your contribution, seek to ask questions such as:
What advice would you have for me to do this differently?
Help me understand where I went wrong.
Doing this requires a bit of humility, but it really will go a long way.
Go the Extra Mile
If there's anything you should do to improve perceptions in the workplace, you should go the extra mile.
Aim to overdeliver.
Let's say you have a reputation for showing up late to work.
As you change your habits, don't just aim to get there on time. Aim to show up 15 to 20 minutes earlier than required.
Put out your best work, do this again and again.
Aim to find common ground with your colleagues and be more warm with them. Put forth the effort to master your people skills and to be memorable in the best way possible.
In the Master Your People Skills course, Vanessa explains and teaches 33 people skills that are very important to learn.
One of the bonuses in the course is a useful guide on 'Attraction Murderers' - things that push people away and can negatively affect their perception of you.
Since we spend so much time at work, it's definitely worth putting the above ideas into practice to improve relationships with colleagues.
I hope this article has helped you to see that with a bit of patience and determination, you can improve people's perception of you.
Don't be too discouraged when people have an inaccurate view of you. It happens to everyone.
As we've seen, there are many ways to project yourself in a more friendly and charismatic way that will help people reassess any wrong ideas they had about you.
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