How Important Can Perception Management Be?

Perception Send&ReceivePicture This…

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.

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 takeAs 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.



Is Creative Disruption Threatening Your Security?

Transition ThoughtsPicture this…

Your industry is gets hit by a disruptor – one of those new, unexpected competitors. It dawns on you that the secure future you’ve planned and worked diligently to build is now in jeopardy. It’s difficult to imagine where you will be work wise in three years time.

It’s one thing to adapt to change quite another matter to adjust to cataclysmic disruption.

Disruptors are portrayed as either brilliant or bad guys. Regularly the media blast stories about industries where competitors have entered with new business and engagement models. They graphically remind us where an industry, such as publishing, was then and where it is now. Many articles are one sided focusing on the negative or positive side of one aspect.

With every disruption, there is an upside and a downside. You have to look from many angles to see where it fits on a spectrum of brilliant to bad for you, your role and your organization and industry.

Change is constant, and the future is already here. You may be familiar with Elizabeth Holmes – the woman who has invented a way to run 30 lab tests on only one drop of blood. It’s a fascinating story that affects millions of people positively and negatively.

Holmes set out at the age of 19 to change the health care system. Today some of those steps have already been implemented. Theranos, a privately owned biotech company, operated in stealth mode for ten years to maintain confidentiality.

What impact will this disruption have on you?

  • It’s a heartwarming story if you have a family member who is very ill, because drawing blood will be less painful. This is terrific news for children, the elderly or oncology patients.
  • If you need a diagnosis, it means your doctor can have results in four hours, or you will have better access to personal data in order to monitor your efforts to take care of health issues.
  • It’s a chilling story, if you’re a medical lab or insurance firm, as it will negatively impact revenues and your supply chain partners.
  • If you’re a medical laboratory technician, it threatens your livelihood, and it’s ‘close to the bone’.
  • It’s about adapting if you are a healthcare worker or doctor, the change in processes will require doing things differently, and, however, most healthcare institutions are in long-term change management mode already.
  • It’s a good news story if you’re a taxpayer, instead of it costing more because it’s new and advanced, you can expect savings in the billions of dollars. Prices, for over a thousand tests, are posted on their website at rates lower than insurance companies currently charge. It’s a good news story too if you self-pay for health coverage.

Where there’s change, you will discover transition

Change and transition are constant companions. Change is the event: the new technology moving into the market and its impact. Transition is the emotional side: the affects to your personal and professional life. It’s the chaotic neutral zone full of endings, beginnings and new opportunities in odd disguises.

Here’s my take on change and transition – change is like a roadway while transition is like a river.

The change plan is similar to driving on a clearly marked highway with lines and signs. You can get traction on the solid road beneath your tires. You have maps and checkpoints to estimate time requirements. Your destination is clearly defined.

Transitions are more like traveling on a fast flowing river. It’s fluid with an array of mysterious conditions. There are fewer markings, varying currents, inclement weather, and the risk of capsizing. You have less control and more variables.

Driving and navigating are two very different skill sets. Many don’t distinguish between the two. Visualize a roadway that turns into a river…now what? Most change management efforts that falter or fail do so because the transitions were ignored or not taken seriously.

How could you take your transition skills to higher levels?

Reading:  Don’t let those click-bait headlines and short content articles ruin your day. Do some serious research to sort through what’s real and what is imagined.

 Solicit other’s experiences:  Less about advice and more about considering alternate ways of coping.

Reflect on past events:  Look for the behavior patterns you tend to apply when handling adverse situations. Often hindsight will change your perspective and provide insights you had missed.

Creative disruption is both exciting and risky. For some, it brings improvement. For others, it signals a time of uncertainty and insecurity. The game changer, in this case, is discovering how transition affects you and learning ways to discern the difference between real danger and risk.

When change is not a choice, what’s your approach for handling mixed emotions? Ex:  lost your role, company acquired, assigned to a different location 

What part did insecurity play in this for you? 

What were game changers for you? 



 Photo:  DepositPhotos


Is It Egotistical to Quantify Your Contribution?

Contribution is KeyPicture This…

You are part of a team that exceeded their targets. You’re proud of your contribution and your ability to work with well with others. You know without a shred of doubt that you carried a significant share of the workload. For many employees, it is enough to know that you contributed to the collective outcome and helped everyone get a performance bonus.

One director outlined how her team increased their revenues by 22%. When asked what that is in dollars, she said, “I don’t know, give me a calculator.” Her face registered surprise when she realized it was $4.5 million dollars.

Have you ever examined your actions to see what specifically and how specifically your contribution moved things along?  Daily we hear stories where a customer company closes the door to a long term supplier. If you had a relationship that enabled your firm to get back into a quoting position and your team won the business, what’s the value to the overall results? You’re pleased you helped regain the business, but can you quantify the value of the connection you caused to happen?

What if your realization that a casual connection you had to a key influencer, was an opportunity? You brought this to your leader’s attention, and a small group strategized about next steps. As a result of your relationship reopening the door, your firm regained the business. It can seem like a small step yet it had a huge impact.

If that door hadn’t opened, what would have been the consequences to your team?

How do you determine your contribution? The best way is to look at the journey this deal travelled and identify the key intersections where the project advanced. Think of planning meetings where the desired next steps were discussed. Did your efforts in any way contribute to those being achieved?

So often the credit goes to the person who negotiated the deal yet there are many steps required before your firm’s negotiator gets to sit across from the buyers.

In lean organizations, there are opportunities for a crucial action to turn the tide. It is common to focus on the ‘we’; however, you need to dive deeper into the details to determine your contribution and consider the ‘I.’ It can be simple or profound, what matters most is that it keeps the business moving.

When you are aware of senior management mindsets and what concerns them most, you can offer perspectives, connections or actions that bring value. When you can identify the steps and crucial intersections in the journey, your input at meetings will be respected and influence outcomes.

Is it egotistical to quantify your contribution?  Not at all, however you may need to get used to the idea of defining where the credit belongs. You have probably worked in an organization where others took credit for your efforts, or people missed the ‘real intersection’ that turned things around.

It is great to get appreciation and recognition from your co-workers. However, this demanding pace is here to stay. Wouldn’t it be more valuable to identify what is personally helping you to make a difference?

Quantifying your contribution will affect the way you present your ideas, position your thoughts, ask questions and influence others thinking. When you know why you are competent, it is evident in how you position what you say. Positioning is much more effective than bragging.

Confidence comes with competence, and competence builds from contribution. Why not put a value to your contribution efforts?  Here’s a process to get you thinking about your contribution. Examine results that stand out for you and reflect on the journey that was taken to get there:

  • What specifically did you do?
  • How specifically did you contribute?
  • What was the value, tangible or intangible, that kept the business moving?
  • Were your efforts noticed or ignored?
  • Did others comment openly in meetings or behind the scenes?
  • Did anyone ever share privately, that you should have received credit?
  • What can you learn from this situation?
  • What will you do differently next time?

Would quantifying your contribution enhance your reputation in any way?

Photos: Depositphotos


An Irritating Person Got Under My Skin – How Do I Turn It Off?

Irritating Person Got Under My SkinPicture this

Thursday you had a discussion with a coworker who is not one of your favorite people. You have shared responsibility for a project and are working closely together. You managed to work out details of what’s to be done next, but you found the discussion irritating. You have spent the entire weekend rehashing the festering irritation in your mind.

While most things don’t get under your skin, this situation just won’t go away.

Why is it so irritating?  

Reflecting on the conversation you realize that your views weren’t respected, and some of your ideas dismissed. You are unused to this kind of treatment from your coworkers. And it is especially galling from this particular person. Plus you have wasted a good weekend because you couldn’t push it out of your mind.

Instant, intense reactions are rarely about a current situation. When you go from 0-60 you are caught up in the past. Something they have said or the way they said it had triggered a memory that flashes into your mind as if it was yesterday.

During our shaping years, we absorb views and preferences from our experiences – the successes and setbacks.  As well, the influencers in our lives who helped us resolve adversity, encouraged us to build character by pushing through difficult situations, and supported us while we dusted ourselves off when we were down helped to shape our views too. Each of us have a few vulnerabilities, and when triggered they can feel like a dentist’s drill hitting a nerve.

We can’t go back and change the way life unfolded.  However, when triggered today you can reflect to find out what it’s connected to and where the intensity started.  

Why is it so intense?

Only you have that answer. The sooner you name what it is or who it reminds you of, the more ability you have to turn the insight into useful self awareness. Sometimes it is a private matter to deal with internally. With today’s work pressures and diverse relationships, it’s a given that you will be triggered again. Self awareness will enable you to turn an unexpected reaction into an appropriate response.

Why lose another weekend?  

Invest time in discerning whether you felt disrespected, or the other person’s behavior was disrespectful. There is quite a difference.  When someone’s words hit a nerve, it’s up to you to determine why it has affected you emotionally.  If it is deliberate on their part, then communication techniques can help you handle disrespectful behavior.

How to turn it off in one to two hours?

  1. Download: When someone says something that gets under your skin and it sticks in your mind like dog doo on a shoe – download it. Put your thoughts and feelings to paper or keyboard.
  2. Container: Intense emotions need feedback. Let the voices that are conversing in your head spill into a container other than your body. A notebook, tablet or computer. Trust that you will know when they are finished chattering.
  3. Questions: Give yourself some distance then return and ask a few final questions so you can pull the awareness and insight from your download.  Something as simple as ‘What’s the message in this for me?’ or more specific once you get clear on what was triggered.

You have more control than you think.  Use these three steps the next time, and you will have a better weekend.

When is the last time someone got under your skin? 

How did you handle it?

Perhaps you are struggling with a trigger situation that you would like help to handle differently. On Wednesday evenings at 9 pm ET I coach participants through these situations.  If you would like to join the call please optin through this link:


Attribution:  Deposit Photos


Welcome to a new blog

As an executive coach and workshop leader my focus is on management behaviors.

Management practices are entering a new era. In a future that is coming at you fast,   past successes will not have immunized you from having to deal with the new fundamentals. ‘Booster shots’ are essential. They will be in the form of active learning on many levels. Continue reading