Our Perceptions of How Others See Us

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Do you worry about how others see you? Or what others think of you? You are not alone.

An old post about perceptions, how others see us, still gets frequent visitors, as do other older posts as a result of visitors using certain keywords in their searches. How do I know this? By regularly analysing my statistics. It can be enlightening, as an example, one of my most read posts was one about an incident on my farm in Africa involving a cobra. The word “cobra” is frequently used as a search topic and sent large numbers of visitors to this blog.

Problem is, I am not an expert on cobras, do not intend writing about them and have no interest in promoting products or services that may be of interest to people who are looking for information about cobras. Many of the visitors were from a country that I believe produces a type of gun with that name.

The obvious method to determine the value of the topics a blogger writes about is to see which posts get the highest number of readers. That tells the blog publisher which posts are the most popular but not why the visitor arrived. Tracking keywords or phrases used in searches which result in visitors finding a blog is a worthwhile exercise.

Google Analytics is a good tool to find this and more information, but for a quick daily check on WordPress sites, I use the Jetpack plugin. It provides more detail than the standard WordPress statistics.

Using this tool and method indicates that perception of how others see us is a very real concern for many people.

How others see us, or more importantly, our perception of how others see us is a concern that most of us have at some time in our lives. More worrying in some situations than others and generally something we handle better with age and maturity.

Our perceptions of how we appear are closely tied to our self-esteem and levels of confidence. It is possible for us to feel comfortable in a familiar, supportive family or social setting, giving no thought to how others see us, but be anxious about what working colleagues or business contacts might be thinking. It can be the opposite too, comfortable in a working environment where we have mastered the skills necessary to be considered competent or even an expert, but feeling inadequate in a social setting.

Having to relate to new social, work or business contacts with a higher level of status or authority, real or perceived, changes our perceptions. We tend to continually compare ourselves to others. A new contact who exudes confidence and authority can undermine our own so that we believe we are not as good as him or her, that then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy and we perform below our best.

The good news is that most people are too concerned about themselves to give much time and thought to us. Unless we make an absolute spectacle of ourselves, they will not be thinking about us a few minutes after we part.

The danger in having a negative perception of how others see us is that we surrender a degree of control in our relationships, we allow others to assume that they are in some way better, more effective, have more power or are more entitled than us.

I had an enlightening example of this many years ago when I was a marketing manager with  a large company. Marketing was a new discipline in that production and accounting oriented business, I was very much the junior manager at our monthly  management meetings. I acted accordingly, speaking quietly and rarely voicing my opinions. One day, I had a sore throat, my voice was rough. When I opened my mouth to give my report, I sounded very loud and very harsh, the effect was electrifying, the Managing Director and 10 senior managers all sat up paid attention to what I was saying and actually listened to me.

That one incident changed the dynamics of that meeting and my relationship with the other managers. Because I was the junior, I had accepted the role and assumed the character. I was treated accordingly. When I accidentally changed the way I showed up, their perception of me changed.

Does it matter what others think of us? Yes and no. Reputations are important, they take a long time to establish but can be destroyed in seconds by one stupid act. Especially now with social media.

You cannot please everyone all the time, even saints have their detractors. The more we strive to achieve goals and lead extraordinary lives, the more we will find those who criticise us or want to stop us. The best we can do is to live honest and ethical lives of giving value.

Whether our perceptions of how others see us are negative or positive, both will be self-fulfilling, let’s keep them positive and be the best we can.

Wishing you success.

Peter Wright




Photo by Jaume Rosselló Mir via Compfight

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  2 comments for “Our Perceptions of How Others See Us

  1. Roberta
    April 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Don’t know anymore where I found this. But it is so true.

    At 20 we worry about what others think of us; at 40 we don’t
    care about what others think of us; at 60 we discover they haven’t been
    thinking about us at all.

    • April 4, 2013 at 8:26 am

      Thank you for sharing that Roberta, very true indeed.

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