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How aware are you of the negative perceptions others might have of your actions?

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How aware are you of the negative perceptions others might have of your actions?

  • Very aware — I always know how my actions can be seen negatively: 29.66%
  • Aware — I know the perceptions of major actions but miss seeing others: 56.51%
  • Not very aware — I know about negative perceptions after they’re pointed out: 11.62%
  • Oblivious — I rarely see the negative perceptions others can have of my actions: 2.2%

Look through a new lens. Perceptions are tricky.  We think we know how others see us but the lens we look through is often rose colored.  If you want to mitigate negative perceptions, you first have to see what they might be.  The fastest way to do that is simply ask “what’s the worst way my words or actions could be perceived right now?”  Once you know that worst case, you can better see how others might see you and take appropriate steps to ensure you’re seen in the light you want to be seen in.  And if you’re really interested in changing perceptions about yourself, you have to invest the time and energy in changing the way you’re seen.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS and author of “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.”