March 16, 2012
Perception of your work lingers longer than actions
If you think you’ll be recognized at work or garner a promotion just because you work hard, you need to get a clue.
While you may believe you’re a diligent worker and deserve to be rewarded, others may not perceive you the same way. And it’s others’ perception of you that will determine your success, says Joel A. Garfinkle, a career coach.
“Perception is important, because how people view you and how their minds get made up about who you are directly impacts your career,” he says. “Everyone gets to the point in their career where you can’t just expect to be noticed for what you do.”
Dealing with perceptions beyond your control
Your cultural upbringing taught you not to stand out or be too visible. To battle this problem, seek high-profile projects and learn to share your accomplishments with colleagues.
You behave in a certain way because of the region where you grew up. A New Yorker may be more direct, while a Southerner may be more reticent. Learn where your colleagues or boss grew up — that may help you connect with them better. Making an effort to understand differences will help give others a better perception of you.
You’re a woman in a mostly male environment. Such workers could be judged because they are in the minority and might have a more difficult time being heard if they don’t speak strongly. A mentor can give advice to women in such a position, Garfinkle says.
You can be judged by the company you keep. If you hang out with people at work who don’t have good reputations, you may be perceived the same way. Try to limit your interactions with gossips and spend more time with those who are well respected.
Source: Joel A. Garfinkle
Instead of bragging how you’re the only one able to handle a certain customer, send an email to a boss noting what strategies you used to deal effectively with an unhappy patron. This shows the boss that you not only made an important contribution, but that these are valuable strategies that could help others.
“Too often, people feel that if they promote the good work they’re doing, people will look down on them,” Garfinkle says. “But you can talk about your role in the process and what you achieved, or relay the good comments people make about your work to the boss. You’re just passing on information, and that starts to change their perception of you.”
What if you find out that others don’t have a flattering perception of you? Garfinkle says you should try to find advocates within the company willing to speak positively about you.
If just one person holds a negative view of you, try building a better connection and rapport with that person, he suggests.
“Engaging this person and getting to know him or her takes courage,” Garfinkle says, “but a lot can be gained by it.”
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