Does it frustrate you that others do not see you as you would really like them to? Sometimes we inadvertently present ourselves to others in ways that do not reflect our best self. We may talk ourselves and our achievements down, avoid drawing attention to ourselves or not take part in things that would be good for our personal and professional development. We can change the perception that others have and the assumptions they make about us however. Re-framing is about exploring what you can do to create a positive and confident presence.
We all have an image whether we like it or not. Our behaviours, actions and body language reflect what’s going on in our heads and betray what we think and feel to those around us. No matter what you do or don’t do, you are creating an impression on others and you will be judged. We do however, have the ability to reflect on the image we want to convey and do something about it. Consider what people may think about you right now.
- What do people say about me when I am not in the room? Is that what I want them to be saying?
- What do I hope to achieve when I communicate with people?
- What do I want to be known for?
- Does my online presence support this?
If the image you convey isn’t something you’re comfortable with, you may find it helpful to consider the following:
Seek feedback from those who are willing to give you an honest and constructive opinion. You might like to do this as a sharing exercise with 2 or 3 others so you all take a turn. Questions you might usefully ask could include:
- ‘If you were to use three words to describe me, which would you choose and why?’
- ‘What kinds of thing would you come to me for?’ (e.g. a good listener, problem
solver, expertise, encouragement)
- ‘What do you think I could do better at?’
- ‘What one thing could I do that would improve my image?’ (e.g. behaviour, approach,
Remember – this isn’t about changing the essence of who you are, just developing your self-awareness through feedback so you can work on being the best version of you.
Addressing your negative inner voice
Sometimes the negative voice in your head can reinforce your lack of confidence. This is likely to be reflected in your behaviours and actions. For example:
‘All the others seem so much more capable than me. I’ll just keep quiet in the seminar so I don’t look like an idiot. I really messed up that last assignment so I won’t volunteer for that other piece of work. No one will vote for me so I’m not going to risk it.’
The negative voice can have a significant impact on your feelings and emotions. But it can be challenged with a different, more constructive interpretation:
‘All the others? Perhaps not all of them. How do I know I’m less capable than them? This week I am going to express my views. I didn’t completely mess up the assignment; my tutor gave me feedback on areas where I could improve so I can do better next time. If I don’t put myself forward for the exe position I’ll never know.’
Re-framing can help you to consider an alternative perspective. Things are rarely as black or white as we assume. Challenge yourself, particularly if you find yourself using terms such as ‘everyone’, ‘all’ or ‘no-one.’ Generalisations and assumptions are hard to qualify with supporting evidence. Develop the habit of challenging your negatives. This will help to build confidence and resilience. Your contributions will be recognized and the image you present will more accurately begin to reflect the version of you that you want others to see.
Networking can be critical to future career success in specific industries. To some, the very suggestion of the word can induce nausea! The key is to find a way to do this that makes it more comfortable so you can reap the benefits. Re-framing your perception of networking makes it more accessible. In his book ‘The Success Code’ the career coach John Lees suggests that networking can be made less daunting by considering the following approaches:
- If you prefer deeper relationships, aim for quality conversations with 2 or 3 people
- Take small steps initially to build your confidence
- Be clear about why you are asking them for help
- Mix online and face to face activity to keep generating contacts
At careers and employer events I have a very simple strategy, who looks friendly? I approach friendly people and by developing a more organic approach rather than a ‘tactical’ one I’ve found I have developed some great contacts who coincidentally turn out to be very helpful. See our Networking for Introverts and Networking for Beginners posts
You have the ability to manage yourself, your image and how you come across. By growing the confidence to take action to develop yourself and your career, you will be seen and noticed in the way you want to.