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How to Change Misperceptions [Fulfillment@Work]

Fulfillment @ Work




July 13th, 2010
   ISSN: 1533-3906

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Please forward this newsletter about changing misperceptions to your family, friends, and coworkers.

To subscribe to Fulfillment@Work, click here.

Do I annoy my co-workers?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? According to a research study conducted earlier this year on what bugs workers the most, maybe you should.

The survey, conducted by Opinium Research, asked people what annoyed them the most at work. Here are the top ten things that drive workers up the wall:

  1. Grumpy or moody colleagues
  2. Slow computers
  3. Small talk or gossip
  4. The use of office jargon or management-speak
  5. People speaking loudly on the phone
  6. Too much health and safety in the work place
  7. Poor toilet etiquette
  8. People not turning up for meetings on time or not at all
  9. People not tidying up after themselves in the kitchen
  10. Too cold, cold air conditioning

Now, you probably have little control over the speed of your computers, your office's OSHA requirements or the setting of your thermostat, but you do have control - at least in terms of your own behavior - over seven of the top ten grievances.

How often are you guilty of these minor annoyances? Do you come to work with an attitude? Do you talk about others behind their backs? To you use phrases like "think outside the box" or "get our ducks in a row"? Are you tardy at meetings? Do you neglect to refill the coffee pot when you take the last cup?

By changing these small and seemingly insignificant behaviors, you can go a long way to make your work place more civil and enjoyable, as well as earning the respect and trust of your colleagues (and boss).

Speaking of small talk or gossip…

What if the talk is about you? What if others are spreading malicious rumors or information about you, your personal life, or your job performance?

Hopefully, this won't happen to you.

But if it does, I encourage you to read the article below.

All the best, Joel


Garfinkle Executive Coaching
Dream Job Coaching
Inspirational Speaker
Employee Outplacement Services


How to Change Misperceptions

Everyone is susceptible to gossip stories at work. But what if the stories are about you? And, even more disturbing, what if they are erroneous and could harm your reputation?
Fortunately, this won't happen to you. But, if it does, it's important to take action.

Once unfavorable stories get created they often get cemented in as a permanent perspective of who you are. This perception becomes their reality and everything else you do reinforces how others see you.

You can have 50 examples of trustworthiness and one false representation and this one malicious example undermines everything else.

During your constant interactions at work it's possible that things you do might get misinterpreted in a way that is not accurate.

For example, you might be seen as unreliable because you didn't get something done on-time or be viewed as a loose cannon because you speak up and say things at client meetings that are not appropriate. Some of these stories might be true, but often they aren't reflective of who you really are at work. The problem is one or two negative stories can cement a perception of you that is actually inaccurate.

Here is a seven-step process to change misperceptions into positive (or neutral) ones:

Step 1: Gather information about the unfavorable story.
Without getting emotional or defensive gather as much information as you can about the unfavorable story. This fact-gathering stage is key. You don't want to fly off the handle, confront someone and make matters even worse.

Step 2: Dispel the unfavorable story.
Go to the source of the story - the person who believes or is communicating the misperception - and explain your situation. Discuss your perspective and what you felt actually happened. Provide enough information so the person understands exactly the truth from your perspective. You could say, "Hi, Carla. I hear you may have some concerns about what I said at the client meeting. Could you tell me about them?" And then, after hearing the other person out, provide your perspective of why you spoke out like you did.

Step 3: Ask about other misperceived stories.
Ask the person if they have any other stories that they would like to share. When you hear the new stories, explain what actually happened versus what was perceived. Provide greater understanding of how these stories could have been misinterpreted.

Step 4: Take responsibility for what you did.
Even though you may not agree with the misperception, you most likely can find some things that you can be accountable for. Show that you have learned a lesson and what you take from this situation. Come up with some examples of what you'll do differently based on what you have learned.

Step 5: Share favorable stories.
When a person observes something unfavorable, this image gets stuck in their mind. Counter the negative perception by coming up with ways and examples of how you haven't been that which they think you are. If they think you are untrustworthy, come up with three or four stories illustrating your trustworthiness. These other stories help balance out a one-sided and limited perspective.

Step 6: Ask the person to give you another chance.
Explain how you don't want to be stuck in their view of something that happened in the past. You sincerely desire to be given another chance to prove yourself. It's not fair for you to be punished by something that happened only once or it occurred years ago. Get the person to take a risk on you and let you try again. The risk is minimal with tremendous potential upside.

Step 7: Thank the person for their honesty and willingness to help you.
This is one of the best ways to enhance your reputation and clear up any misunderstandings.


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"There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you're busy interrupting them."

~Mark Twain


"One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license."

~P.J. O'Rourke


"The unfortunate thing about this world is that good habits are so much easier to give up than bad ones."

~Somerset Maughan

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Copyright 2010, Joel Garfinkle, all rights reserved.
The top online resource for creating fulfillment at work!
Visit:   http://www.DreamJobCoaching.com    or    http://www.GarfinkleExecutiveCoaching.com
Contact Info: 510-339-3201 joel@dreamjobcoaching.com

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