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  • Writer's pictureSarah Carter

Perception vs. Reality

You According to Them: Uncovering the blind spots that impact your reputation and your career by Sara Canaday is all about the importance of knowing how others see you. We spend a lot of time, as leaders, identifying our strengths but what do others think of those strengths? Do they see them as strengths or as limiting factors? Do the people I work with see my attention to detail as a powerful tool to ensure we complete projects by the book like I do OR do they see it as me being rigid and adverse to change? Do others think that my direct communication style let's us get straight to business OR do they see it as cold and impersonal?

There are two sides to every story. What you intend and what is perceived by others. These perceptions, built up over time, create the reputation you have in your work space, extended family life, and friend circles. Getting the two to align is part of your never ending "to-do" list as a leader or good friend/family member. Canaday makes some great, concise points throughout her book as she identifies several, common perception gaps people are prone to. (We'll dig into a couple of those in the next post.)

Critical Thinking

I wanted to engage your critical thinking brain with this post. Below are several quotes I pulled from You According to Them that I feel will get you to reflect on the reputation you have in your daily life spaces. How close is it to the reality of you? Do you need to spend some time aligning the two? Have you ever asked for feedback? Take some time to read through these snippets from both your point of view and the point of view of those around you.

"Taking control of the impact we have on others allows us to take control of our own careers." pg. 2

"By analyzing those perceptions - your reputation, as defined by your co-workers - you can identify the disconnects and strategically change your behavior to correct them, establishing a serious competitive advantage in your journey towards success." pg. 6

"...what we don't know can hurt us. And it often does." pg. 7

"It isn't about abandoning your usual approach altogether. Minor changes really can make a significant impact." pg. 49

"Look for specific opportunities to build rapport with others, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone." pg. 84

"Chances are, this habit is deeply embedded, and you may not even realize you are doing it. Your first task is to raise your awareness." pg. 117

"To change perceptions, you need to change the way you are defined." pg. 154


Now that you've had some time to read and think about those brief excepts from the book, your game plan moving forward should be to ask three questions:

1) "What is your ideal reputation?" pg. 169

2) "What is your actual reputation in the workplace? Uncomfortable or not, we need to know how we're perceived. And that means we need to ask!" pg. 170

3) What new perception blind spots have arisen since you took the time to work on the others? "Keep checking for new blind spots!" (pg. 176); it's the only way you'll stay ahead of the reputation you're building so that it will align with the reality you're aiming for.

Next Time

Canaday identifies several, common perception gaps. We'll be diving deeper into a couple of those, specifically the ones that resonated with me because I had to overcome them in the past. Definitely pick up a copy of this book and see which ones resonate with you. They may be gaps you've had pointed out in your reputation or gaps you noticed in others. Either way, I'm certain some of what is presented will stand out to you.

The next post will be coming out on Oct 21st. Until then, I'd love to hear what you think about the quotes above or the book in general. Send me an email, leave some comments below, or head over to any of my socials to let me know. Happy reading!

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