Jun 18 2009

Perception in 360 degree Feedback

Published by at 7:44 pm
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One of the purpose of 360 degree feedback is to help coach people on their perception problems. If you sit back and think about top performers, high potentials, or whatever you want to call them, these individuals are generally the model citizen or at least they try to be. Sometimes people have concrete problems like personality flaws, technical or skill gaps, or in most cases in technical people, communication problems (communication is not an engineer’s strong suit).

I feel that I time manage reasonably well, multi-task reasonably well, do have some skill gaps that I’m always improving, and while I do need to continue to hone my personal style and communication skills (as we all need to), in general I don’t have a lot of concrete personality flaws. I have a few minor personality flaws, but they all stem from a concrete “flaw” if you could say it is one is my natural tendency to get hyper focused on something and be OVERLY enthusiastic and sometimes off putting to some people. One’s greatest strength inevitably is their greatest weakness.

But my real problem I continue to struggle with I think is perception. Perception problems are a tricky thing because reality is in the eye of the beholder. I can’t change people’s point of view, but if I understand their point of view I can help influence it, yes? Of course step one is understanding who’s having the perception problem and their point of view. Once I understand people’s point of view, then I can find the source of the perception problem and change something usually indirect that changes how people are perceiving things.

People perceive my intentions, my motives, my actions, my communications, my gestures, etc incorrectly. I’ve been accused of looking “angry” before by a simple eyebrow gesture. I’ve been accused of being intimidating when I was being curious. I’ve been accused of being cocky when I’m simply confident. I’ve been accused of “needing to win” in an argument when I’ve been trying to educate. I’ve been accused of being pontificating when I’m trying to energize people about something. I’ve been accused of being distracted when in reality I’m focused. People who really know me well and those who know me even reasonably well know that I don’t ever intend to come across that way, but rather that I give the perception of such. Perception is not something you can touch or feel, it’s something you have to look at yourself from the outside to figure out.

All of these perception issues stem from the over use of my strongest natural trait, my enthusiasm. I try to temper it as best I can, but I’m an emotional person and when I get excited and passionate about something (which I always do), then my enthusiasm kicks in to high gear. I also tend to lose it when I’m being challenged or pushed into a corner and I’m trying to passionately defend something I feel strongly about.

Since I’m on a self-reflective honesty streak, yes, I get defensive. This is not news to anyone who has read my blog, especially for a long time. It is another bad side effect of being passionate about something you believe in. In some ways I also have some control issues, probably still stemming from … well just read some of my blog posts with the Health tag. I don’t know maybe I’m over that, maybe not.

I need to come up with some techniques to not necessarily CHANGE my nature because one cannot change their nature when it is so extreme as mine. The best I can do is channel my natural tendencies in a more… mutually agreeable fashion. One of the ways I can do that is make sure that whatever cause I’m fighting for, whatever goal I’m passionately pursuing, whatever objective I’m pushing myself to complete, that it’s something that everyone has full buy-in for.

I think my biggest mistake in recent time is getting overly passionate about a cause that not everyone was truly bought in on. Some people said they were bought in on it, but apparently they weren’t and now I’m getting myself into trouble. Makes me wonder if some of the other causes I continue to fight for are really supported by everyone or if I’m fighting other battles that are a lost cause.

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