You’ve had a great weekend full of social activities. Monday you’re ready to begin another work week. Your morning routine involves powering up your device and checking messages and the news.
Surprise! You are front and center in the news. The headlines are about you and your behavior. You learn you’ve been fired and news outlets around the globe are chasing you for comments. In less than 24 hours, your world has changed. Thanks to social media you have become an influencer and unemployed.
Five minutes of fame – and what it does. A vulgar heckling incident set off a tsunami of public and visible debate disrupting an ugly practice previously condoned.
- Your employer fired you, sending a message about behavior outside of work
- Canada’s Justice Minister issued a statement
- White Ribbon and MLSE formed a partnership to change behavior at sports games
- People against bullying behavior voiced their opinions world wide
We’ve all witnessed behavior and thought ‘I can’t believe they just said that!’ What’s surprising is that with this particular vulgar phrase, adults from all walks of life were so non- aware of the messages they had been sending. Don’t you wonder what else they have missed?
Here’s my take – As a coach, I find most people by mid-career have not seen themselves on video except in a presentation or personal video. Yet the tweens and teens in their life have probably had media training already. Many adults have little awareness how their thoughts, comments or actions fuel others perceptions of them. Nor do they fully grasp the impact their actions have on colleagues or family, work or social situations.
I recall my first tween client who was struggling with being bullied. Because video coaching is such a positive experience, I was trusting it would help strengthen this kid’s self-concept and it did. After viewing his video, he said, “I’d be proud to put that on YouTube.” It wasn’t the answer I was expecting yet it indicated he had a much different view of himself by seeing what others saw. This change in thinking was a pivotal point to help him deal differently with the bully in his life.
How important can perception management be? Gone are the days where you can keep a secret, sweep something under the rug, or fly under the radar. Before if something went wrong in your career, you could move to another area and start over. In a digital world, little is private, and digital footprints aren’t easily erased.
Nor do we have the luxury of time to determine an appropriate response. Most organizations have invested heavily in their brand and reputations. They have thought through what to do in the event of an adverse event.
Being an influencer is highly valued but it has an upside and downside. In mere days this vulgar heckling incident set in motion significant change to personal and business reputations, sports culture and personal and professional relationships.
The consequences of under developed perception management skills can be harsh. For those who enjoy ‘pushing boundaries’ they may want to be very clear on what they are pushing and why especially if their identity is tied to their work and working relationships.
Judi Walsh is a Perception Management Coach and speaker with extensive experience working in change management implementation. She specializes in coaching management talent through transitions, perception management, and adaptability. Clients say her presentations are ‘eye-opening’, relevant, engaging and readily put into practice. Learn more here.