How do others see you? and How do see you see you? Often times the two images are not in alignment with each other.

This can be the root cause of personal and professional tension. Perception can be viewed from an aware and an unaware state.

Rewards and Consequences of PerceptionFor those of us who are “aware” of its rewards and consequences, we would like to think that we are masters of creating the perfect persona of how we want others to see us and think of us. We’ve outwardly rehearsed our walk, smile, talk, handshake, stage presence etc.…. A gilded exterior for a sometimes chaotic interior.

We believe that if we are perfect in the execution of this polished persona, that success and power are ours for the taking. Then comes the bombshell.  You receive an evaluation at work from a supervisor or colleague. The way they see you is not the way you see yourself or better yet the way that you see them seeing you.

Although feedback and constructive criticism are terms that we are expected to embrace, we are often times left with feelings of confusion and being unjustly judged. These feelings tend to fester and can result in feelings of vengeance.

“Perception is the mind’s way of categorizing and explaining what is in front of us.”

For those of us who are “unaware” of how our daily actions, interactions and comments construct the cocoon around us that is perception, we too are susceptible to the same bombshells. A friend, family member or acquaintance reveals to you what they and/or others “really think about you”. Again, you are left with a cornucopia of emotions that rain over you every time you recall the conversation, re-read the text or post.

The next step for many of us is to sever ties temporarily or permanently with that individual. By un-friending, un-following and not speaking to the individual, we cut off their access to our wounded ego. Or do we? Their words and tone can haunt us well after.

The gist of it all? Perception is here to stay. Perception is the mind’s way of categorizing and explaining what is in front of us. Whether It be a circumstance or an individual. Perception can keep us out of harm’s way and on the flip side can lead us to knock on harm’s door. Perception in the workplace can be the reason you are passed over for or the reason you receive a promotion.

My advice? Receive occasional perception wellness checks. Ask someone who may not have an investment in your happiness what their perception is of you. Maybe it’s a colleague in another department/group or maybe it’s a friend of a friend who may run in similar social circles as you do.

Whomever you choose, listen for the content. Is the feedback something you’ve heard before and want to change? Or Is the feedback encouraging and makes you want to continue doing what you do. For most of us, the feedback will be mixed and that’s ok. We all contribute to our perception to some extent, so be mindful of that. Past successes and disappointments can without us realizing affect our persona.

These “invisible factors” can and should be examined. For only we know how deep within our psyche they live. The outside world does not. We can only grow in our personal development when there are opportunities for growth.