Changing Others’ Perceptions of You

My wonderful friend Dorie Clark, a member of our 100 Coaches organization and a fantastic thinker, is an expert at helping people get their message across in a very crowded marketplace. The author of Entrepreneurial You, Reinventing You, and Stand Out, Dorie is an Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, a former presidential campaign spokeswoman, and a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review and Forbes.

This week Dorie shares with us the key to getting from here to there is not just what we do, it’s how others perceive us. If they think we are a jerk, it’ll be hard for them to support our success. So, how do we change others’ perceptions of us? That’s our subject this week. Below is an excerpt from our interview.

Marshall: Dorie, one of the important things that you and I have talked about is changing perception, changing the way other people see us. We frequently hear people say, “It’s not fair. It’s not fair. I did this and it didn’t matter, get noticed, get rewarded.” Well, what we’re really complaining about is their perception of us, and we need to work on changing that perception. Please give our listeners some guidelines. What do you suggest might help them change others’ perceptions of them?

Dorie: This is a really important question. Thank you, Marshall.

If someone feels that their colleagues or the people around them aren’t seeing their full value, there’s a couple of reasonably quick and effective things that you can do.

First, ensure at a basic level that you always have a good answer to the question, “What are you working on right now?” This question comes up all the time. If you see someone at a networking event, they’ll often ask, “Marshall, what’s new? What have you been up to?” Most people haven’t planned the answer to that question. They say, “Oh, you know, same old thing. Nothing new.” This is a wasted opportunity. You know the question is going to be asked. Be prepared! Tell them that you are really excited because you are working on a project, book, idea about X, Y, and Z. Whatever it is, it plants the idea so that people understand.

Another thing that you can do is talked about quite a bit by Robert Cialdini, eminent psychologist, and Jeffrey Pfeffer of the Stanford School of Business. The basic idea is to recruit a trusted friend or colleague and become each other’s “wing man”. This way at an event, you can talk each other up at these networking events. For instance, if you feel a little nervous talking to people, your friend can help a bit and say, “Oh Marshall, did you know that Dorie just did X, Y, and Z?” And, the thing is not only is the information likely to be received well, you are helping each other.

Marshall: Brilliant ideas Dorie – Thank you!

 To learn more about Dorie, visit Build a following around your ideas, download your free 42-page Stand Out self-assessment to learn how.

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