I was with some great friends last night and somehow the discussion turned extremely personal.
In essence it was all about personal branding. Who do people think you are? Does it really matter if they think you are somebody different from whom you really feel you are? Do you really try to tell your story to convince anyone you are not really who they think you are? Is it worth it? And, the heretic question: if someone who is considered a friend/ally/trusted team member does not even seem interested to hear your side of the story, is it worth spending time and energy attempting to change their mind? And what about these persona’s we all have in our interchangeable roles?
We all get misunderstood often and sometimes the interpretation proves detrimental. Most people care deeply about how others see them. Interestingly enough, while they care, they do very little to avoid misunderstandings. Social cues, habits, rules and norms that govern our daily lives and the social fabric of our worlds are more influential than our gut feelings. We have learned to act a certain way – and that’s our way – and we think our way is the only path to walk and act on.
We all have our reasons. We do things and we are the only ones who know why we do what we do. The issue is what – if anything – we stand to lose or gain if we shared our thinking with others. Open versus closed; defined versus uncommunicative; well rounded versus linear.
So, once again the decision is all yours to take. However, what do you have to lose if you made it a habit to do just these 3 things:
Study: Astute people know they must learn from friends, co-workers, bosses, subordinates customers, and partners before they can do anything else. And you must learn first before pursuing any other goal—otherwise, you risk operating in a vacuum.
Dialog. Exchange transforms a relationship from that of shouting out one-way messages to a dialog between equals. And then it’s an engagement, a deepening, another point of view.
Support. People need help at different times, from doing and understanding things to feeling heard and listened to – simply because they need it.
So, how about giving a hand – just as a trial – and then you can see if you will be less misunderstood. Maybe just maybe.