Seeing the Way You’re Seen

If perception is reality, pay attention to perceptions.

It’s frustrating that hands-off leaders may be perceived as distant rather than making space for others to shine.

The way you see you and the way others see you frequently aren’t aligned.


If more eye contact made others feel you cared, would you give it? First, determine if you care if people think you care.

Align the way others feel about you and the way you feel about yourself by asking, “How do I want others to feel about me?” Take a minute and jot down your answers. Last night I jotted mine.

I want others to feel I’m: valuable, interesting, dependable, strong, and welcoming. My top three are:

  1. Respect for me as a person.
  2. Confidence in my abilities.
  3. Gratitude for my contributions.


  1. Identify how you want others to feel about you.
  2. Invite feedback. Employ open ended questions. Use terms like “think” or “perceive” rather than “feel.” But, ultimately it’s about feelings.
  3. Pinpoint behaviors that formulate other’s perceptions. Avoid asking, “Why do you think/feel that way?” Ask, “What do I do that makes you think/feel that way?”
  4. Adopt new behaviors.
  5. Monitor responses and reactions from others. Don’t get needy and paranoid. Just pay attention.
  6. Invite feedback, again.
  7. Adapt as needed.


Isn’t this whole thing hypocritical, even manipulative? You may think, just shut up and do a good job. Tight alignment, however, between personal values and intentional behaviors is authenticity, not hypocrisy. Adapt behaviors not values.

Satisfaction and effectiveness grow when external perceptions and internal realities align.

Bonus activity: Ask your spouse what you do that makes them feel loved.

How do you want others to feel about you?

How can you effectively invite useful, honest feedback concerning the way others see you?


Subscribe to Leadership Freak todayIt’s free, practical, and brief. The subscribe button is in the upper right of the home page. I’ll never sell your email address, promise.