What image are you creating for yourself at workplace?
An official meeting with all the department members was under progress. The head of the department proposed a new initiative, which requires some...
An official meeting with all the department members was under progress. The head of the department proposed a new initiative, which requires some additional effort from the members. After explaining the details of the initiative, he openly asked, “Who would like to volunteer to drive this initiative?” Even before any individual opted, there was an instant uproar among the team.
All the voices unanimously and loudly proposed one name – Mini Menon. They kept repeating the name till she nodded her head and said ‘yes’ to the initiative. Everyone loudly cheered and laughed.
Mini was certainly confused with all that happened. Did they appreciate her? Did they trap her? Did they rag her? Not sure. Incidentally, it is not the first time that Mini experienced this type of reaction from the team. Even in serious meetings, when she makes a point, others treat it like a joke and don’t take her seriously. They always wait for an opportunity to mock her. She didn’t understand why it ends up that way – only with her!
Now, let us take another example.
Half a dozen colleagues were having an informal chat over a cup of coffee in the cafeteria. The topics of discussion ranged widely across office politics to personal affairs and upcoming long weekends. When the discussion was in full flow, Ravindra entered the group and occupied a vacant chair. Instantly, he could feel the drop in decibel levels and the entire team turned formal.
The discussions were rapped up in a few minutes and everyone returned to work. Ravindra could sense that his presence made them more conscious. And it is not the first time. Though he took initiative several times, team was not very comfortable with his presence. He wondered why does it happen. What does the team think of him?
While the above two examples may sound negative, there could be other instances where the team’s response is positive with someone’s presence. Or some members are perceived to be soft and are not taken seriously at all.
Whatever might be its nature, do we realize that we create an image among the team members at workplace? What contributes to such image building? Does it happen automatically or is there something that we can do about it? Can we alter the image that is once created? Let us try addressing some of these questions.
Each one of us carries an image at workplace
Whether we are aware or not, all of us acquire an image at workplace. By watching the way people around us respond or relate, we can gauge our image. One needs a keen eye to notice the same and make out what the image is.
What contributes to such image building?
This is a very important aspect to understand. It all starts with our behavior, which forms a pattern. For example, if one engages into excessive talking in every context without checking the relevance, if one tends to dominate everyone else in every meeting, if one tends to share with superiors details of small talks among colleagues, people tend to see a pattern and prepare their response. In other words, people tend to form an opinion after seeing a pattern of our behaviors and frame an image around us. It may be labeled as “fun guy”, “endless talker”, “show-off guy”, “boss’s spy”, “senseless comedian”, “intense guy”, “cunning guy” and so on.
What is the impact of having such image?
Our image influences the way others respond to us. It will surely have a bearing on our work and efficiency. For example, Mini (in the first example) will struggle to drive any point seriously because many may not take her seriously. Perhaps she would have belittled herself in the earlier interactions or joked about her own mistakes; or she would have openly said, “bear with me, I talk a lot”. A stage comes even if she wants to make a sensible point, others will discount the same.
How to work towards image makeover?
Image makeover is certainly possible, but not easy. It involves curbing those behaviors, which contributed to the earlier image; staying cool and patient with others who still see you with earlier image and consciously demonstrating newer behaviors. A sustained effort is required to undo and redo the image! But it certainly worth the effort!