Have You Thought About…?
My client was certain he had spoken too much at a recent team meeting where he was the most senior attendee. He asked for feedback about this from a trusted direct report. To his surprise, he learned that the audience loved it and was hungry to hear more directly from him. I asked him, “have you thought about getting that kind of feedback to help you in other situations?”

As a coach, I help people see how their inner stories impact their behaviors. In this case, my client’s belief  could have led him to be less vocal in future meetings. Instead, by seeking feedback, he got useful information about how others actually perceived him. It allowed him to debunk his story.

This is an easily repeatable tactic and applies to a universe of scenarios. For starters, consider meetings or conversations where you may self-censor or, at the other end of the spectrum, you may dominate the conversation. While you have reasons for your level of contribution (i.e., “People may reject my ideas as being dumb” or “I need to be heard by my superiors”), have you ever challenged those reasons (stories)? Have you asked a trusted colleague how you are perceived in those situations? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know?

You could also reflect on specific situations where you have concerns (stories) about how you are perceived. Think about how those stories are impacting how you show up. Ask yourself, “who could I ask for feedback to check the accuracy of my stories?” 
Did You Know?
As human beings, we’re wired to care what other people think about us. In this short article in the Harvard Business Review, Michael Gervais, PhD and high-performance psychologist, writes:

“Unfortunately, FOPO (Fear of Other People’s Opinions) is part of the human condition since we’re operating with an ancient brain. A craving for social approval made our ancestors cautious and savvy; thousands of years ago, if the responsibility for the failed hunt fell on your shoulders, your place in the tribe could be threatened. The desire to fit in and the paralyzing fear of being disliked undermine our ability to pursue the lives we want to create.

This underscores why we need to train and condition our mind — so the tail is not wagging the dog. (…) But, if you really want to conquer FOPO, you’ll need to cultivate more self-awareness.”
Need Inspiration?
“As my awareness increases, my control over my own being increases.”
          – William Schutz
Is your concern about how others perceive you getting in your way? Seek some feedback!