We, as employees, are so painfully aware of how we feel at work. We could be having a great day and be extremely excited about our work, or we could be having an excruciatingly bad day and want to go home. We know what we want and how we feel—but do we have enough self-awareness to know how we affect other people and how other people view us?
According to a recent social psychology study, there is a wide gap between how one views themselves at the workplace, and how others view them. For example, one CEO had a very particular reaction when receiving tough opinions or criticism. He would push back his chair and roll his eyes, then cross his arms. After reaching this reaction several times, employees stopped speaking to the CEO or asking him questions.
The CEO was not aware of the effects of his body languages. He contends that he actually welcomes challenging comments and questions. His body language was stopping essential knowledge from going his way because his employees were frightened of him.
Does this sound familiar? Are you the office bully that people are afraid of?
Here are some ways of changing your behavior and thus changing co-workers’ perception of you.
1) Change your reception to feedback. Don’t get frustrated or mad when someone expresses an opinion, but rather keep asking questions to help you understand why this person came to that conclusion. Thank them for the insight and try to actively change your behavior. After you have made the changes, ask for more feedback, it shows that you are willing to follow through with the feedback.
2) Identify your blind spot. You might be a great performer or you’re always active on your game, but for some reason, people dislike communicating with you. You might have a reaction, body language, or phrase that scares people or turns them off, like the CEO. Turn on your hyper self-awareness for a day or two and watch your co-workers’ faces when you speak with them. Is there a moment that triggers any uncomfortableness? If yes, then you know what to work on.
3) Remember, take it one step at a time. If you’re panicking because you just realized you might be the bully, then commit to changing one thing about yourself in given time, maybe one thing a month or even one thing every several months. For example, if you always say a blunt “okay” to requests or criticisms, try changing it so you respond with a “thank you.” You could even extend it so that you keep your customary “okay” but add to with “I’ll get right on it.”
With some small changes and help from people in the office, you can flip the perception about you in the workplace.