Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women On Business writer
How often have you seen a colleague in action at a meeting or conference and said to yourself – wow, doesn’t she realize she phrases every sentence like a question?… or…she looks like she’s ready to go to a party, not a meeting… or…she rambles way too long when she talks…or…she seems like she’s really unfriendly by her expression…or…? Well, you get the point.
The reality is that many people are genuinely unaware of the way in which they are perceived in the workplace. Admit it – wouldn’t you like to know what others thought about you? I’m not talking about unfounded criticism or pettiness, but instead, honest assessment. Without an accurate reading on your own impact and style, it’s hard to make positive steps to change and become a better leader, boss, employee, sales person, or entrepreneur. So, if you’re interested in being your “best self” in order to achieve goals you’ve set, a little self-assessment may be just the boost you need. There are several ways to accomplish this.
If you are analytical and tend to remember the details of situations, you can assess your style by thinking about your behavior and language in recent meetings or conversations, and analyzing your results.
- Review recent interactions, evaluate whether they were positive or negative in terms of communication, and think about how and why.
- Reflect on a very positive meeting or discussion you’ve led and think about what you did to make it a success.
- Think of a meeting or discussion you’ve been a part of and think about what you did to add to its success.
- Think back to an unsatisfying conversation with your Division Head or Manager. What went wrong?
This self-analysis method requires having a good memory and being honest with yourself.
It may give you a jolt to listen, but you can’t argue with what is on tape! A good way to get realistic feedback is to pick an appropriate meeting and ask your fellow participants if, instead of taking notes, it’s okay with them if you tape the meeting. You’ll want a tape recorder that can be put on the conference table to pick up the sound in the room. This works especially well if you happen to be running the meeting – because you’ll get the best information in addition to having a valid reason for taping. As you listen afterward, how do you feel about what you’re saying and the way you’re saying it? How are people reacting to you?
There’s no substitute for videotaping when you want to “see it like it is.” Videotaping can be done in an informal, inexpensive way – or by a professional who is coaching you on your presentation style. The quick way to accomplish this is to use your own (or a borrowed) video camera and tape yourself doing a presentation, the opening to a meeting, or even a one-on-one role play with a friend. Dress in business attire in order to get the best “look” at yourself.
Do you have a colleague in the business world or someone else whom you can truly trust – and who will be brutally honest? If the answer is yes, you can enlist the aid of your friend, perhaps volunteering that you will give him or her feedback too. Depending on your relationship, a “buddy” can be a friend, co-worker or even your manager. A buddy can be extremely helpful by “role playing” with you before a presentation or meeting – or even signaling during a meeting if you are falling into a “trap.” In the book Breaking Into the Boys’ Club, we talk more in depth about these types of self-evaluation.
Have you ever tried to evaluate your style during your work day? How did it work for you and what advice do you have?