How to change a perception

How to change others’ perceptions about you!

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” ~ Warren Buffett

“My boss thinks I am lazy!”
“Well, you are always last to the office in the morning.”
“But, I am always last to leave in the evening.”
“Yeah, but she is already gone by then, she wouldn’t know that.”
“I seriously need to do something to change her perception about me!”

Perception is you mind’s eye:
A perception is how we ‘see’ something or someone in our own mind. The common beliefs or assumptions play a role in the existing perception. Based on many factors including social and environmental surroundings, this is the way our brain ‘perceives’ something or someone. True or false, a strong perception is no less than the real truth. This is how we see things in our ‘mind’s eye’.
Once established in our brain, a perception becomes a part of our thinking, a part of our life; it is hard to change.

How to change the perceptions:
So, how do you change others’ perception about you?
Some perceptions are easy to change. For example, in the conversation above, the boss has a perception about one of her employees of being lazy. That perception can be easily changed by being proactive, by showing up to the office before anybody else does EVERYDAY. Note that to change a perception, you have to be consistent -again and again.

The most effective way to change a perception is to prove it – the perception- wrong consistently. Show everybody that what they believe is very different from the reality. Here are a few common approaches for changing a perception

Create awareness: Let everyone around you know that what they perceive is not true. Share the facts; share the information to prove your side. Nobody denies the facts – unless you are dealing with someone whose mind is already made-up no matter what; in that case, it is not a perception but a deep rooted bias and prejudice.

Build a relation and trust: For others to listen to you and your side, you need to have a relation -a closeness- with the other side. If they trust you, they will believe your facts. If not, no matter how reliable your source is, they won’t get your side of the story.

Educate them: Use facts or other literature to educate them about the wrong perception. This is same as creating awareness but going one step further – making a conscious effort to share the knowledge. This could be one-on-one or as a group thing.

Let your actions speak: Live the life or the style you want to portray. Let your action speak for themselves against the perceptions or misconceptions. Consistently prove to others, day after day, that the ‘so called notion’ is wrong.

Go for shock and awe; rock the boat! : Yes, to change someone’s mind, sometimes you need to send a strong message proving them wrong. For example, if others perceive you to be weak, do something dramatic to show off your strength or powers. This approach works best to defeat a deep rooted perceptions and prejudice.

Make a true first impression: The first impression matters. People will adjust their perceptions about you based on how you come across in the very first meeting. Make a first impression the way you want others to perceive you.

Connect and be on the same page: Connect with others, so they can see ‘true you’. If there is not enough information about something or someone, the vacuum is filled with myths and the second hand stories. Many perceptions result due to isolation from the facts.

As an example, as mentioned in an earlier post, there are many common perceptions about people from India. Only some of them are true.

With all these conscious efforts and by consistent actions as mentioned here, the perceptions can be changed over time.

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