Personal & Professional Perception: The Difference?
I have been a professional marketer for almost two years. One of the most important lessons that I have learned, and now preach: ‘it is all about perception’. And that is not about how you perceive yourself, but how your peers, your competition, your friends and family perceive you. You can dictate how others perceive you. Unfortunately, it is not something that people choose to take seriously in every aspect of their life.
As a professional, I learned quickly that something you say as yourself can impact how others perceive and respect you as a professional. I understand why a few of my friends have separate twitter and Facebook accounts for their personal and professional voice. That is not the right option for me, as I do my very best to show my personality while maintaining my professionalism.
Two recent events are the inspiration for this blog: one involving a famous athlete, the other a more personal encounter. I will start with the athlete in question, who is Tiger Woods.
Since Woods became known to the general public, he has had a near flawless record as a person. Known as a family man committed to his wife and children, dedicated to his charitable endeavors, Woods had everyone believing he was not only the greatest golfer, but an ideal, morally correct person.
We were wrong.
Since Thanksgiving, Woods has been in exile, hiding from the press, from friends, and the game he excels at. He has stepped away from golf until further notice, and has been in a rehab facility, attempting to recover from his alleged sex addiction.
Now, the perception on Woods is as a person, he is a cheater, not-trustworthy, and lacking integrity and loyalty. It does change my perception on Woods as a professional. Golf is a game based on trust, following the rules, (not cheating). He is severely flawed as a person when it comes to this. When considering the greatest golfer of all time, I do consider who they are as a person. For that reason, it will be difficult for me to consider Woods as the greatest to play the game.
During my trip to NYC, I met a PR guy who while I was unfamiliar with, was told by other PR professionals that he was ‘the guy to know’, a ‘PR rockstar’. People who have such praise bestowed on them must be doing something right. This guy must be good at what he does if there are people from Minneapolis, Atlanta, and even Dallas openly holding him in a high regard. Before meeting this PR guy, I checked him out on various social media channels. His tone was condescending, full of self-righteousness, and overly pompous. In the interest of fairness, I went into meeting him with an open mind.
When introduced, I was instantly turned off by his inability to look me in the eye during our handshake. A blatant act of disrespect for no reason. While out, another person introduced me to the same PR guy not knowing I was already introduced to him. To my surprise, he again failed to even glance in my direction. My opinion was already set in stone because of his disrespect during both introductions, among other interactions and observations that evening.
My perception of the PR guy is as a person, he is a complete piece of crap. If I worked at a company that wanted to work with him and/or his employer, I would do all I could to make sure that would not happen. If the PR guy is as disrespectful as a professional as he was to me on a personal level, I cannot imagine how he acts to clients. It is a complete shock that anyone holds this person in such a high regard.
How people perceive you as a person and as a professional, for most people, are two completely different buckets. For me, those buckets are one in a package deal. If I encounter someone who is a nice person, but (extreme example) is convicted of running a ponzi scheme, my perception of that person would change, and rightfully so.
I want people to perceive me as a very passionate, kind person willing to help out anyone when possible. I want people to perceive me as a very passionate, driven, intelligent professional who works his butt off to do the best job possible on any sized project. I hope that is how people perceive me, for that is how I perceive myself. However, that is up to you to determine that.
My question for you: can you separate your perception of someone as a person and as a professional? Share an example of when your perception changed due to learning more about someone.
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