Our perceptions of others is our reality!
That is some pretty heady stuff.
What about others’ perceptions?
How others perceive you is their reality.
Do you know how others perceive you?
If you think you know how others perceive you, where do you derive that from? Did you ask them?
When our perception of ourselves is different from others’ perception of us, we run into problems at work. More than likely, it will cause us stress.
How Do Others Perceive Us?
I recently updated a post Do Others Prejudge You Based on Your LinkedIn Profile? [Updated] where I talk about how people prejudge us for a whole variety of reasons. Their perception is based on our profession, family, race, gender, education, social standing and social media presence or lack thereof.
This is even more true in our connected society where people’s perceptions are based on what media channels they listen to or watch.
No matter what you think, people perceive you differently than you think. I like to tell people you do not see yourself as others see you.
Roger Birkman and Perceptions
I wrote this post originally several years ago after attending the Birkman Next Generation Conference in Sugarland Texas. The conference was attended by hundreds of Birkman consultants who use the Birkman Assessment to help individuals and companies reach peak performance. This was the first conference not attended by Dr. Roger Birkman, who passed away at the age of 95 earlier this year.
Dr. Roger Birkman, a World War II pilot, was fascinated by the impact that perceptions had on pilot and crew performance. Dr. Birkman went on to study psychology in the war and later developed the Birkman Assessment.
The Birkman Method, as it is formally known, is a personality, social perception, and occupational interest assessment used to identify behavioral strengths, motivational needs, stress behavior, and occupational interests.
I have been using the Birkman Assessment for six years on hundreds of clients. I am still fascinated by what it reveals and how there can be major disconnects between our perceptions of ourselves and how others perceive us.
The science behind the assessment is how we perceive other people is how we want to be treated. The latest version of the reporting structure presents how we perceive others and compares it to how we perceive ourselves. This is probably as close to measuring emotional intelligence that you can get. It does not measure EI but it does give you a framework to explore how our perceptions of the world and ourselves and how they differ.
Example #1 – Introvert Who Likes Crowds
I am currently working with a gentleman who you could describe as an introvert. In the Birkman Method, he is referred to as low acceptance. He likes working by himself or with a small group of close colleagues. Many would assume he would want to work from home.
Does he want to work from home? NO! In fact, %^$& NO!
He very much needs to be around people. He does not necessarily want to interact or work projects with others, but he needs to be around people. You would never know this unless you talked with him about his need.
The world of coworking spaces has arisen just for these kinds of people.
Example #2 – Structured Anarchist
I have written before about my client that I refer to as a Structured Anarchist.
Bob appears as a very orderly person. He loves rules and structure, or at least that is how he appears. In the Birkman Method, he is referred to as High Structure.
What Bob really loves is creating rules and structure. By the way, he is phenomenally good at creating systems. He just does not want any rules or structure placed on him when creating these systems.
Others’ perceptions of Bob did not align with Bob’s own perception of himself. He kept being placed in very orderly roles, but what he really wanted was to be placed in total and complete chaos where he could create order.
It was not until we worked through the Birkman Assessment that we identified this disconnect and he could articulate this strength. He no longer waits to be placed into a role, but he actively seeks out opportunities where he gets to create order out of chaos.
Example #3 – Closet Introvert
I admit it, I am a closet introvert. You would never know it from seeing me present or work a room. I am highly social, however, my need is to spend lots of time by myself. When I am done working a room or presenting I am exhausted. I am toast.
People look at me and think I am an extrovert. I am not! I have learned to behave like an extrovert but I do not get energy from being around people. The reality is being around people consumes massive amounts of energy. I like being around people but it is a giant energy suck!
You can read more about being a closet introvert in my post 3 Signs You Are a Closet Introvert and What to Do! [Updated]
We Are Actors at Work
When most of us went off to start our careers we became actors. We go to work and play roles. We learn to play these roles and if we stay in character long enough we may start believing we are that character.
We learn skills that will pay us an income. Some of those skills pay us a lot of money but with a cost. I learned to be quite a good presenter. When I worked for IBM, I spent 10 years as an articulate techno-weenie or a geek that could speak.
The cost was it exhausted me. I would cycle through periods of back problems that would send me to bed, then I would take a break, get better and go back at it.
You can read more about this in my post Search actor Are You Your Authentic Self or an Actor at Work? [Updated].
How Are Your Perceptions of You and Others?
If you would like to learn more about Birkman Assessment, watch this excellent video below!
This video was created back in 2014 and it charged me up. I wanted to share this video with you.
Do you see the impact that perceptions have in the workplace?
Feel free to reach out to me through my contact form if you want to discuss the Birkman Assessment any further.Marc Miller
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