July and we are starting to come out of lockdown. I wonder how you are feeling about it? Seeing friends and family is a complete no brainer, we all want that. But are you excited about going back to the pub or having a meal out? Or maybe it is that very much needed haircut? Or maybe you are feeling very cautious and plan to stay at home as much as possible? We each need to do what is right for us and keep all the balls we are juggling in the air.
I have been out very little since March and am fortunate that a kind friend is doing my shopping and brave delivery drivers are bringing parcels – thank you. My garage is full of cardboard boxes ready to go to the tip but of course I need to make an appointment!
In June something unpleasant happened in my business life. It involved me giving some feedback which was not well received and there were consequences for me. The details are completely unimportant but the lessons which I learnt are worth sharing.
What had happened was going to become public. I had two alternatives, do I tell the other people involved and try to manage the situation or not. I would normally choose not to and then apologise later. On this occasion I went against my natural inclinations and hard as it was, I spoke to people.
I was amazed by the reactions I got. I thought I would have to explain what I had done, perhaps even justify my actions. Instead, I was overwhelmed by people spontaneously telling me how I normally do things and this could not possibly be my fault.
I was told that:
- I have known you five years and know how you do things.
- You tell it straight but not personally.
- You may be direct, but you are not scary and never hurtful.
- You work adult to adult.
- You tell it from a business perspective.
I also discovered that tiny interactions and little acts of mine, long forgotten by me, were not just remembered but treasured.
Now I hope that I do not write this because I am arrogant. I was truly surprised at the things I was hearing. I write it because it reminded me of a few things:
- We have no idea how others see us.
- There really is only one chance to make a first impression and it sticks forever.
- Little things that we might do naturally are much valued by other people.
- Sometimes a tiny thing makes someone else feel hugely better.
- People have very long memories about little acts of everyday kindness.
- Doing a small thing is often seen as going the extra mile.
- Listening is remembered much more than talking.
- If your actions are congruent this is what you are remembered for.
Overall, I had a performance appraisal like no other and it made the painful thing that had caused it worthwhile. I am not suggesting that you create an unpleasant situation in order to get some feedback – find another way – but never forget that other people have a view of you that you might not have of yourself. It is this to which they react. I have spoken about the importance of the Johari window before and it is worth revisiting.
Reputation is everything. It comes from consistent rational pleasant behaviour; from doing what you promise; being the same with all types of people; and managing your emotions rather than letting them get the upper hand and dictating behaviour.
So remember two things:
- Other people see you differently to the way in which you see yourself and this is the you they react to.
- Your reputation is very precious, guard it jealously. It is like virginity – you only lose it once!
If this Thought has been interesting please share it and tell me what you think!
Life will be good again; let’s be more appreciative of how lucky we are and live the lessons we have learnt.