Leadership Nuggets from Books Part 9
Reading good literature/books/articles

Perception, Reality and Authenticity in Communication

-Karthik Gurumurthy

Ever get the feeling that people-even people who know you (or should know you) very well-just don't "get" you?

Ever get the feeling that the relationships in your life-some of them anyway- are a little  out of sync with your ideals and what you really want?

Ever get the feeling that there's a troubling disconnect- maybe only minor, maybe profound- between your personal life and your professional life?

In every case described above, a gap seems to exist between the " real you" and the you other people see and interact with.

Your personal brand is a perception held in others minds, and it has evolved through their interactions with you. Through repeated contacts between you and another person, his or her perception of you sharpens and your brand in that person's mind become clearer.

In other words, people are constantly observing who you are, what you do and how you do it. Having a brand is not the point: more important is the question, How strong is your personal brand? The strength of your personal brand grows or weakens depending upon the consistent impact (positive or negative) you are making on other individuals.

It doesn't involve changing your personality- you can be an introvert or extrovert. And it is definitely not about trying to be something you are not.

 We should strive to work on having a strong personal brand. A personal brand is a perception or emotion maintained by somebody other than you that describes your outstanding qualities and influences that person's relationship with you.

A Strong personal brand does not result from a contrived image, colorful clothing, snappy slogan, or from having put on an artificial veneer to disguise the true nature of what's within: A strong personal brand describes a person who chooses to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and who builds trusting, valued relationships. A weak personal brand describes a person whose attributes and perceived qualities lack clarity, and more importantly, someone who is not perceived to extend him- or himself to make a difference for other people.

The difference between one personal brand and another is that the person with a strong brand utilizes his or her special qualities to make a difference in the lives of others. Using one's values and distinctive qualities to make a difference for others is the core ethos of strong, thriving personal brands. Since the ability to build trusting relationships is a key component of professional and personal success, people with strong personal brands are able to achieve more what they want by being more of who they are.

An important competency of building and growing a strong personal brand is to harness the power of perceptions. If others' perceptions define our personal brand, we need to be purposeful about managing the perceptions we leave with them. Let us be clear that how people perceive us has a significant impact on how they relate to, and react to, us. And in some case, their perceptions may impact whether they will even take the time to meet with us. So to leverage our personal brand and make the most of our relationships, we must improve our competency of managing the perceptions we create.

Even with our best intentions of managing others' perceptions of us, it is not easy. Commonly we view ourselves one way while others have a very different perception of us. Do you know of someone who takes pride at being a hard worker- while other people perceive him or her as a lazy person. Who is right? How does that difference in perception impact their relationship? In the end, the perspective others have of us will clearly bias how they perceive and relate to us.

There are many reasons why a difference exists between how one perceives oneself and how one is perceived by others. We each have a unique set of lenses through which we view others, so to speak. Each person's lenses are colored by life's experiences, attitudes  at the time, and how the person feels about him-or herself at a particular moment. The result is that a person's actions or words may be interpreted differently by various other people ir at different times. Building a dependable strong brand requires a level of wisdom and flexibility to ensure that one's actions and words consistently reinforce the way one wants to be perceived.

Why should anyone work so hard to manage the perception others have of them?

It is all about the gap in communication. The size of the gap between the way you want to be perceived and the way you are perceived by another person will have a big impact on the general tenor and productivity of the relationship. A narrower gap supports a productive and enjoyable relationship. Conversely a wider gap results in a relationship that will require more effort to accomplish things, and interacting may not be as much fun.


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