We seldom are perceived the way we see ourselves or the way we want to be perceived.
Contrary to popular belief, our facial expressions are not always readable, our emotions are not that obvious and we don’t communicate as much as we think we do.
There are many heuristics and assumptions that guide our perceptions and create inaccurate interpretations of people.
Assumption #1: The confirmation bias
Some people look at you and see what they expect to see, taking into account the stereotypes of the groups to which you belong, your culture and their past experiences with you.
Assumption #2: The primary effect
Other people forme their perceptions of you using their initial impression of you.
With this assumption, first impressions are lasting impressions.
Assumption #3: Stereotypes
Stereotypes are the beliefs about categories of people to “better understand” them.
Assumption #4: The halo effect
The halo effect is the belief that someone, with one powerful positive trait, has a lot more positive traits.
Assumption #5: The false-consensus effect
The false-consensus effect is the belief that others think and feel the same way that we do.
The Two Phases of Perception
There are two phases of perception that exist in every interactions: Phase 1 or System 1 and Phase 2 or System 2.
Phase 1 or System 1 is the automatic and effortless ability to recognize strong emotions in someone’s facial expression and voice, to identify, categorize and interpret a given behavior, to attach that given behavior to “some aspect of your personality, character or abilities”.
First impressions are made in Phase 1.
Perception often stops at Phase 1 and people, being busy, tend to rely heavily on heuristics and assumptions.
Phase 2 or System 2 is the ability, through complex and effortful mental operations to get a complete and accurate understanding of someone, by taking into account additional factors about yourself.
This effort has to purposefully be motivated by an attention-grabbing circumstance.
Distortion of The Phases of Perception
The level of trust, the possession of power and the size of the ego tend have an impact on these phases of perception.
However, these distortions can be averted by understanding the circumstances and the wanted results of each interaction.
The level of trust
Most of the time, people are not just trying to make assumptions about you but are trying to find out unconsciously if they can trust you, especially in the workplace: are you a friend or a foe?
The decision to trust is made unconsciously in Phase 1 of perception and depends on the way that you project warmth and competence.
To increase trust to the people around you:
Convey warmth indirectly by giving subtle but genuine complements, by providing assistance whenever you can, by showing interest in others feelings and thoughts.
Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging someone else’s perspective.
Manifest your trust in people first by being cooperative, talking about your vulnerabilities and challenges.
Transmit competence by making eye contact while speaking.
Show will power by showing self-control.
Avoid overconfidence by showing modesty and restraint.
Adopt a power pose in order to take up most of the space, to signal your competence.
Emphasize your potential for greatness and for success.
The possession of power
Having more or less power changes the impressions that we form about one another.
Powerful people tend to be overwhelmed with responsibilities and have no time to spare, to be focused on their goals, rely heavily on stereotypes to categorize people, stay stuck in Phase 1 of perception.
Furthermore, the sad truth is that powerful people don’t pay much attention to less powerful people.
To get noticed by powerful people and to increase your influence:
Be instrumental to their success.
Find out how you can align your. objectives with those of the powerful.
Ease their burden.
Anticipate their needs and challenges.
Avoid complementing them because they don’t care.
The size of the ego
Perception is distorted by the size of the ego in such ways that you must come out on top, feeling good about yourself.
Your ego has the purpose of protecting and enhancing your self-esteem.
To control the way people perceive you through their ego, you will need to:
Help people enhance their self-esteem.
Evaluate the threat that you and your abilities pose to your colleagues.
Be humble about your accomplishments, past and current difficulties. Avoid tooting your own horn, playing dumb or acting like someone else.
Affirm other people by praising them and their achievements.
Avoid stereotyping other people.
The eager reward seekers and the vigilant risk mitigators
The safety and security of our personal situations also poses a threat to our perceptions of people, of our colleagues and of our career.
On one hand, the eager reward seeker looks for opportunities everywhere, are effective, risk takers, rule breakers, adventurers, optimistic, motivated, innovative and often creative.
Unfortunately, eager reward seekers are prone to fail and to underestimate problems.
On the other, the vigilant risk mitigators see danger everywhere they go, are vigilant, risk averse, reliable, thorough and deliberate, prone to analytical thinking and self-doubt.
To get the best of both types of people, simply adapt your language to each of them by making one see a potential for gain and the other a cautionary plan.
The clingy, anxious and the aloof, avoidant
The need for closeness shapes our relationship with others.
The clingy and anxious people tend to have low self-esteem, need validation, constantly seek closeness and are worried that the people that they have built a relationship with will leave them, see injuries and slights where there aren’t, fear rejection.
To accommodate them, practise empathy, don’t take it personally, clarify your speech, stay reliable to this person.
The aloof and avoidant people don’t foster close relationships but instead maintain emotional distance.
To accommodate them, don’t take their behaviour personally, restraint your own warmth, give them time to open up.
Correcting bad impressions and fighting misunderstandings
Finally, to correct bad impressions and start over on the right track, you can exhibit attention-getting evidence of the contrary evidence of you so they can notice and cannot deny reality.
You can also force people to revisit their opinion of you by making them feel that their judgement is unfair or unequal.
Finally, you can make people depend on you and need you to reach their goals.
No One Understands You and What To Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson is a great self-development book that explores the prominent reasons why we are often misunderstood and gives useful advice on how to clean up our reputation, to clarify a difficult situation.
Every single conclusion that Halvorson draws is scientifically researched and illustrated with probing examples.
This book is intended for people who have made past mistakes with people and want to correct them.
It was absolutely hard to read because Halvorson revealed hard truths, reminded me of the stereotypes that pursue me on a daily basis and that keep interfering with my goals, forces me to question myself and my behavior.
In addition, this book made me more self-conscious about my presentation to the world and my decisions, more aware that first impressions are critical, that most people don’t think the same way I do, react the same I do, or perceive me the same way I do.
Furthermore, No One Understands You and What To Do About It was also cathartic and purging, helped me become a better judge of others, understand that the way people treated me in the past was not my full responsibility.
In No One Understands You and What To Do About It, Heidi Grant Halvorson explains how perceptions are born, describes a set of stereotypes and assumptions that affect how people perceive you, the different ways for correcting bad impressions and for overcoming misunderstandings.
Studies show that while very strong, basic emotions—surprise, fear, disgust, and anger—are fairly easy to read, the more subtle emotions we experience on a daily basis are not. You are never really starting from scratch with another person, even when you are meeting him or her for the first time. The perceiver’s brain is rapidly filling in details about you—many before you have even spoken a word. Knowing this gives you a sense of what you’ve got going for you and what you might be up against. And the more you can know in advance about your perceiver’s likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses, the better equipped you will be to anticipate what’s being projected onto you.
The benefits of projecting trustworthiness (and the costs of failing to do so) are Enormous, particularly in the workplace. Studies show, for instance, that the willingness to share knowledge with colleagues—a sticking point in most large organizations—is strongly predicted by feelings of trust among employees.
Credibility, the quality or power to inspire trust and belief, is essential and strategic to career evolution.
Credibility is so difficult to acquire and to maintain but so quick and easy to lose.
Credibility is 45% how you look, 45% how you sound and 10% what you say.
In agreement with McCroskey, scholar in West Virginia University, there are five factors of credibility:
This quality is acquired when an employee has succeeded to champion the company’s vision, engage in innovation, focus on performance and results, and to build a high performance organization.
With competence, an employee is able to explain concept with the appropriate message and to calibrate a message to a specific listener.
Credibility is easily lost if someone:
Is not understanding or is reacting inappropriately to an issue at hand.
Is lacking better judgement in order to make the right decisions.
Reflects too long before making a decision.
This quality is acquired when an employee has succeeded to foster a climate of innovation, to foster and model the company’s values.
Credibility is easily lost if someone:
Is lacking passion and drive for their work
Is arrogant. This character flaw can be corrected by changing your words when addressing your colleagues, expressing interest in them, asking for advice, listening more in conversations and sharing your personal weaknesses.
Cannot manage emotions very well.
Has it out for some people in their organization.
This quality is acquired when an employee has succeeded to manage workforce performance and delegate appropriately.
Credibility is easily lost if someone:
Is not timely (not punctual with deliveries, appears frantic and rushing,…).
Cannot manage emotions very well.
Maneuver their body language to manifest their belonging.
Decorate and manage their personal space.
Does not look the part by not applying the company’s dress code, by not grooming oneself when coming to work or even by not working out.
This quality is acquired when an employee has succeeded to demonstrate interpersonal skills.
Extroversion as defined in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
This quality is acquired when an employee has succeeded to passionately drive the company’s strategy.
So Smart But…: How Intelligent People Lose Credibility – And How They Can Get It Back by Allen K. Weiner is a self-development book is very relatable, accurate and was very difficult to read since I have met up with most of the scenarios and possess some of the corporate personality flaws discussed in this book.
Allen N. Weiner, in So Smart But…, provides tips on how to preserve and enhance your credibility in the workplace.
Furthermore, every argument is properly illustrated with realistic workplace scenario and is not gender biased.
According to Allen N. Weiner, to climb the social ladder, it seems that one needs to :
comply to too many non written rules, indicative of a rigid and intolerant society that is the corporate world. Is it possible to apply every single one of these rules to the cost of spreading oneself very thinly?
be likeable to succeed when, in my opinion, likeability can only take you so far. Indeed, in my experience, it is preferable and more effective to be respected in corporate culture because being liked puts you on equal footing with your pairs, constitutes additional emotional work and subjects you to fluctuating and random external opinion. Nevertheless, according to Allen N. Weiner, people who are not liked are trying to find excuses instead of trying to be liked.
There is a timeline model for every leader’s journey…
Indeed, a leader’s journey can be divided into successively seven distinctive steps.
1. Natural Promotion
Natural promotion is the timeline during which leaders advance without difficulties with their innate abilities.
2. Valley of Dependence
The Valley of dependence relates to where leaders strengthen their faith in God.
3. Preparation Stage
In the Preparation Stage, leaders learn new skills.
4. Valley of Wholeness
In the Valley of wholeness, leaders let go of any character flaw that would arrest their personal progress.
5. Releasing Stage
The Releasing Stage is the moment when leaders are promoted to their area of calling and expertise.
6. Valley of Identity
In the Valley of identity, leaders start distinguishing their identity from their purpose.
Finally, in the timeline of Fulfillment, leaders reach their full potential and accomplish their destiny.
The Calling Journey by Tony Stoltzfus is a Faith-based book that helps you understand, through multiple biblical figures, the plan and the life purpose of most leaders’ journey.
This inspirational and encouraging book is written for purpose driven leaders and provides us with a new understanding and a new mindset.
Thanks to this book, readers can firstly learn to trust God and translate God’s message for their calling.
Then, will they be able to acquire patience and other virtues throughout struggles by mapping out the journey with a personal calling timeline.
They will also be able to renew their mindset, gain a new perspective on events and look beyond circumstances and shift focus from self to purpose.
The Calling Journey by Tony Stoltzfus will help in removing the pressures of life and in finding the right career path right away.
Tony Stoltzfus teaches readers to take each and every traumatic experience to transform into something productive and find your calling.
Finally, this book takes us through the life of renownedleaders and biblical characters such as Joseph and mother Teresa in order to show us that finding your calling is a lengthy process.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
Much of the pain we experience in times of adversity is not from the events themselves, but from our kicking back against the pricks life is making to our ego and our beliefs. Instead of meeting God in the event, we waste energy agonizing over the wrong questions. Am I a failure? Has God passed me by? Is he even out there? Will my dreams ever come true? What is wrong with me? When we don’t squirm and struggle to get out of the places God has us, so we can get to the completely different places that we think he wants us. Understanding what God has planned makes a huge difference.
Leaders who observe this law touch people emotionally, know how to communicate with people, connect with them and show that they care.
The more leaders work on the connection with their employees, the more employees are loyal and demonstrate a strong work ethic.
11. The law of the inner circle
The people in the leader’s inner circle will determine the leader’s potential.
Leaders understand that they cannot be a lone ranger and acknowledge the purpose and strengths of the inner circle.
12. The law of empowerment
Successful and secure leaders empower and believe in their team.
Those who don’t create a barrier that their employees cannot overcome.
13. The law of reproduction
The law of reproduction works in a way where only leaders are capable of developing leaders and by teaching them what they know.
Some leaders don’t develop other leaders because they don’t have time or because of their own insecurities.
14. The law of buy in
People buy into leaders who have a vision.
If they don’t like the leader or the vision, they get another leader.
If the leader is credible, then people believe that the vision is credible as well.
15. The law of victory
Leaders who observe this law refuse defeat, dedicate themselves to victory and find a way to achieve success.
16. The law of the big mo
Leaders understand that to create change they need to create momentum.
Momentum is contagious, improves performance and makes the leader look good.
17. The law of priorities
Leaders spend their time prioritizing and recognize that doing more does not equate success.
They use the Pareto principle and the three Rs( requirement, return, reward).
18. The law of sacrifice
Sometimes, leaders have to sacrifice themselves to succeed and to gain opportunities.
The higher you go up on the ladder, the more you have to sacrifice.
19. The law of timing
Successful leaders read situations, recognize when to lead and when to take the right action at the right time.
20. The law of explosive growth
Potential leaders are hard to find and to attract but leaders who develop other leaders multiply growth within their organization.
21. The law of legacy
Leaders who leave a legacy lead with tomorrow in mind, make developing other leaders as part of the culture, sacrifice for future success and pass on the torch.
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow is an easy to read leadership development book.
In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow, John C. Maxwell makes a list of 21 laws of leadership to help people better themselves and their organization.
These laws are the universal foundation for every area of your life. They can be learnt, be in standalone, have serious consequences, be practiced on a daily basis.
Maxwell has spent most of his life in leadership position. So, he entertains us with uncommon, historical and adventurous examples that everyone can relate to.
Finally, he encourages leaders to learn and go apply what they learnt.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
Leadership is complicated. It has many facets: respect, experience, emotional strength, people skills, discipline, vision, momentum, timing—the list goes on. As you can see, many factors that come into play in leadership are intangible. That’s why leaders require so much seasoning to be effective.
The good news is that your leadership ability is not static. No matter where you’re starting from, you can get better.
The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader, and then the dream.
MANY PEOPLE TODAY WANT TO CLIMB UP THE CORPORATE LADDER BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT FREEDOM AND POWER ARE THE PRIZES WAITING AT THE TOP. THEY DON’T REALIZE THAT THE TRUE NATURE OF LEADERSHIP IS REALLY SACRIFICE.
An intelligent person recognizes their abilities and limits, understand that they have to hire someone with more insights, knowledge and competencies to do what she or he is not able to do.
It is evident that very few are fit to lead or to know what to do under difficult or important circumstances: only wise and good men are fit to be leaders.
The story of the Silver Crown
In Ackba, there was a beautiful palace and in the palace, next to the throne, there was a pedestal with a Silver Crown, which the emperor wore when he passed a law and without which the emperor was a regular citizen.
After many years of ruling, the emperor died and left the throne without an heir or anyone to claim the Silver Crown.
After twelve years of searching for a successor, when the country started to sink, the astrologers, who worshipped the stars, asked the stars where to find a successor. The stars answered:
Look up and look down your country, and when you find a man whom the animals follow, the sun serves, the waters obey, and mankind love, you need not to ask who his ancestors were. This man will be one of the royal line entitle to the throne of gold and the Crown of Silver.
The astrologers searched the country, asked the people but were met with ridicule.
Until one night, an old astrologer got lost in the Himalaya Mountains and took refuge in a cottage to find an intelligent leader, worthy of the throne.
Through the story of the Silver Crown, Russell H. Conwell illustrates four characteristics that he deems are necessary to subsist in modern civilization.
How to find the intelligent leaders of tomorrow?
In life, it becomes necessary to have a leading man or woman.
Russell H. Conwell uses the four characteristics of the Silver Crown story to determine the leaders of tomorrow: a man or woman whom the animals follow, a man or woman whom the sun serves, a man or woman whom the waters obey, and a man or woman who possesses mankind love.
Characteristic 1: Animals will follow the leader
Conwell considers that, alike universities, animals ought to instruct and encourage us.
He takes a scientifical approach to demonstrate the knowledge and power embodied in animals.
Studying the animals and taking notice of their instinctive knowledge on a daily basis will allow us to comprehend life better.
For example, the horse is much more useful than a human being. The horse “has within its body so much galvanic and electric force continually generated by the activities of life, that if that electricity could be concentrated and held to a certain point, a horse could stand still and run a forty-horse power electric engine.” Whereas, a human being, standing still, can run a ten-power horse engine.
Furthermore, a hen and her egg are filled with mystery and more knowledge than an intelligent professor with degrees from prestigious schools are willing to admit or to spend time studying.
Conwell believes, contrary to science, that hens or chickens possess their own language, the “egg is the greatest scientific problem with which the world has ever grappled — the beginning of life and the God-given design”.
Characteristics 2 & 3: the sun will serve the leader and the waters will obey the leader
Through the story of the locomotive and the milkman, Conwell shows how a leader is being served by both sun and water, the importance of getting educated on a daily basis and noticing the events around us and noticing the unnoticed.
The locomotive, using steam to move and driven by Man, is used to illustrate these 2 characteristics.
A milkman took a locomotive every day to distribute his milk. On the train, he consistently asked questions about the functioning of the train to the engineers.
One day, while the fireman and the engineer were absent, the train rolled down the mountain.
Fortunately, the milkman was on the train, knew how to drive it and saved everyone, including a stakeholder in the railroad company. The milkman happened to get rich of his knowledge and his curiosity.
Characteristic 4: mankind will love the leader
A leader gains the love of mankind by being great benefactors: while they are going after their own success, they bless humanity, they hear the call of humanity and respond to it.
The university from which they have graduated from does not matter in real life.
University can make you unlearn the real values and useful knowledge, needed in real life.
An uneducated person will know more instinctively than anyone who has been to school by using their everyday observations, even though they have a degree from a university or not.
The Key To Success by Russell H. Conwell is a great book that takes approximately one hour to read.
It is filled with picturesque stories and fictional dialogues to illustrate and to get us to remember his point.
The Key To Success is dedicated to those who wish to become leaders and strengthens their core values, for those who are eager for success. It emphasizes the idea that every man is his own university, that every man should take notice of his surroundings and learn from everything.
The Key To Success by Russell H. Conwell is an essay to encourage people to seek their own success by observing the events around them. Russell H. Conwell seeks to find the intelligent and the “leading men and women” of tomorrow.
In The Key To Success, Russell H. Conwell is very controversial, progressist, scientifically curious and forward for his time.
He is continually questioning the limits of science and of human knowledge, is answering the questions that science cannot answer with the knowledge of God.
After reading this book, all I could think is “I like this guy” for his opinion. Conwell does not hesitate to denounce academics, with diplomas from prestigious schools, who have no time to study “lesser” things in life, who belive that their studied education trumps their natural and instinctive education.
Hence, for him, science does not explain everything but we should seek explanation from God.
There is danger that a man will get so much education that he won’t know anything of real value because his useless education has driven the useful out of his mind.
The great scientific men—and we need more—often are not given the full credit that is due them because they have not “graduated” from somewhere. It seems to me there is a feeling in these later days for creating an aristocracy among the men who have graduated from some rich university. But that does not determine a man’s life. It may be a foolish tyranny for a little while, but nevertheless every man and woman must finally take the place where he and she are best fitted to be, and do the things that he and she can do best, and the things about which he and she really know. Where they graduated, or when, will not long count in the race of practical life.
Do you know that the humblest man, whatever his occupation, really knows instinctively certain things better for not having been to school much? It is so easy to bias the mind.
No man ever gives himself for others’ good in the right spirit without receiving “a hundredfold more in this present time.”
Many of us spend our lives searching for success when it is usually so close that we can reach out and touch it
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