Know How They See You: Tips for Changing Your Stereotype

Do you get the feeling that people have the wrong impression of you at work? Maybe your team sees you as arrogant and demanding even though you see yourself as confident and encouraging. It can be frustrating when others don’t see us as we intend. It can also be confusing at times to understand others’ perceptions of you. The fact is, a person’s perception may be different from what you feel is the truth, but it’s not necessarily wrong because it’s real to them. This begs the question, “How can you change others’ perceptions of you?” Here are some important actions you can take to change the way your employees see you. 

Pay Attention to How Your Behavior Affects Others

When you interact with employees at work, pay attention to their reactions. Watch their body language, speech, and behavior toward you. Do they seem to react positively or negatively? Do they seem interested in what you have to say? Make a mental note after each interaction and it might even be helpful to record your observations on paper. Go back and look closely at them to see if you can pinpoint what might be causing their reactions. 


Another great way to learn how your behavior affects others is by asking them. Choose two or three trusted employees and ask for honest feedback about the way they perceive you. Explain that you are aware of your negative stereotypes and you are working to change this perception. Ask them for suggestions on how you can improve the way you are viewed by others. 

Don’t Get Defensive

When others perceive you the wrong way, your first instinct is to get defensive. After all, you probably feel like you are being unfairly branded. Instead of accusing them of misinterpreting you, accept that their perception is their reality and apologize if necessary. Then, make a valid effort to build a reputation that is more reflective of your true self. 

Go Above and Beyond

Once you have earned a reputation, it can be difficult to change it. Therefore, it takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication to prove yourself. For example, if you have a reputation for showing up late to every meeting, you need to make it a point to arrive early from now on. If you have a reputation for being combative and offending others with offhand comments, you need to make sure you hold your tongue and even look for ways to be more compassionate. It may take a while, but over time you can shift people’s perceptions to where you feel more comfortable. 

Acknowledge Your Flaws

If you really want to change the way others see you, you have to hold yourself accountable. For example, if your employees think you are demanding and overbearing, acknowledge that their feelings are valid. Even if you don’t agree with their perception, let them know that you understand how they might see things that way. Then, tell them directly that you are aware of this perception and you are dedicated to making a change. They will appreciate your honesty and authenticity and you will begin to see perceptions change right away.