Appearances Can be Deceiving (Thank Goodness!)

How can you believe for a second that everything you do doesn’t affect the people around you?

This is going to be a short post.

We are in full control of what others think of us. Really.

Don’t believe me?

How You View Your Behavior

When you blog you do it so you can keep notes of what you did or how you solved certain problems or dealt with certain situations or what you thought about a [movie|concert|book] or just general thoughts you would like to share that mean more to you than to your readers (you do have some, don’t you?).

When you wake up and get dressed you don’t really think much about what you put on or how much [you shave|put on makeup|whatever] because you are just going to work. Your co-workers see you all the time. They don’t care really what you look like.

When you talk to people you pepper your conversation with favorite phrases that make you feel clever or intelligent or [pick your favorite emotion]. Most of the time words come out and they seem to make sense (except for the occasional silent response from others which is usually disturbing for at least a few minutes).

When you arrange your work area you set things up in a way that makes sense to you. Messy, neat, a mix.

When other people view your behavior they make judgment calls.

How Others View Your Behavior

When you blog that means you like helping people (based on what you blog about of course).

When you dress nicely you are showing a level of seriousness in the things you do (and when you dress down you show a different level of seriousness. Just ask Greg House). Perhaps you are showing that you are trying to impress someone. Your boss, your customer, your date, your spouse, that person you’re having an affair with…whomever.

How you talk tells others how you think. If you express yourself well, speak with the voice of authority (what I like to call the consultant’s voice), others will believe you know what you are talking about (perhaps you don’t, but you have bought yourself time while they figure it out).

And that’s just the stuff I thought of without trying.

Okay. I am oversimplifying. Where would I be without a layer of oversimplification to make a point (people don’t like complex explanations. Just ask your friend if they would like to hear about the architecture stack Java/SharePoint sits on)?

So why the dichotomy between what we do (and think others understand) vs. how others interpret what we do?

In spite of the voices in your head, no one is in there but you. So while we think we know what others are thinking we are usually going to be wrong. We are basing our judgments on appearance. Their appearance and behavior.

Where does that leave them? You guessed it: judging you on your appearance and behavior.

I see it all the time: freshly minted college graduates who think their work is over just because they handed in their gowns. I was there. I believed it too. The problem is that the work was just beginning.

The good news: school is an artificial environment. It is, for the most part, quite safe.

The bad new: it is not real.

What we say, what we wear, how we talk…all important and should be used in different ways at different times.

Want to impress your boss? Stop guessing! Look and find out what impresses him/her!

Want a particular job? Act like you already have it and you’re half way there (and if where you are working won’t help you with the other 50% get a job that will).

Play the part. Meet other people’s expectations. Clothes, demeanor, appearance, speech and anything else you can think of that affects the outside world.

Be genuine. Leverage your assets. No one is going to care about what you want, except for maybe your parents, if you don’t give them a reason to care. Give them a reason to care.

Remember: life is meaningless. Find a meaning for those around you. It is hard work. Help them. I promise they will be grateful.

For another post: the quickest way up the career ladder? Manage upwards.

[Side note: Take a look at where you do most of your work. Do you have more things (papers, chaos) on the left or the right? If it is on the right then you are probably a leftie. Is the bulk of stuff on the left? Then you are probably a rightie.

Freaky, huh?]


Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Persuasion by Steve Booth-Butterfield, Ed.D.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, recruiter, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or anyone with professional credentials who might actually speak authoritatively on life, the universe or anything. I’ve just been around a while. The above is for informational purposes only. Make up your own damned mind.


About cvalcarcel

Any and all opinions stated here do not reflect the thoughts, opinions or anything in any way shape or form of whoever my current employer happens to be at any given time. The opinions stated here probably don't even reflect my own opinions.
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