Someone told me the other day that no one really knows us; it is only what we want them to see.
I would have to disagree with that premise. First of all it implies that we are all acting all day long and I don’t know about anyone else, but I just can’t keep up that kind of effort all day every day.
Secondly I think it is more accurate to say people know us by what they want to see based on our actions no matter what we present, what we try to hide or if we are even aware of our behavior.
It reminds me of a conversation I had some time ago with an old friend. After a long day we were relaxing by watching mind-numbing tv and out of nowhere he said, “I love that noise.”
Since my friend was a guy I was almost afraid to ask what noise, but I took the chance since I was at the point of becoming one with the couch and pretty much brain dead.
He told me that when I’m happy and relaxed I make a little noise when I sigh.
I had no idea I made random noises, but I am much more cognizant of it now! But the people who are around you the most do know you. They form their opinions based on your actions.
It is great to have a network that knows you well; this network can be friends, business associates, your boss and co-workers. It brings comfort and security. They know your strengths and challenges, what you can do well and how they can depend on you.
They know you by what you demonstrate every day. They also make assumptions and boundaries based on what they know and this can be supportive.
Or it can be restrictive, especially when you want to make a change.
This change could be something personal like eating more healthy or professional like wanting to expand your skill set or business ventures.
I am not saying they will not support you, actually they will be your biggest supporters but you have to tell them first, and show them you mean business.
Simply stating you want to make a change without proving it will allow your network to fend off the conflict you have created in their head by saying things like, “But that isn’t like you.”
When you first bring up the change you may meet resistance but do not take this as a negative or unsupportive. It is a natural reaction because they do know you so well. They may not understand what it is you want to do or why.
We are all in a process of continual growth it is just when big leaps are in order it takes consistency and patience. You must be patient with your network to help them understand in order that they can fully support you.
It is not enough to say things like: I want to learn to do this, or take this new direction with my career, or settle down, or not going to continue with a failed project or go hike the Himalayans. You will probably have to explain why so they can grasp this new concept.
Once you have explained it you have to be consistent in your messaging to them. Prove it, in other words. Keep taking actions to reach the goals that you want, keep reminding them at the right opportunities of the ways in which they can help you.
For example if you want to take on more leadership at work you first have to tell your boss. They are not mind readers. Then you have to explain why so they will know you are serious about it. Next you need to make sure when you see an opportunity that you can dip your toe in the leadership water that you bring it up to your boss.
If you see a new project come across if your boss doesn’t feel you are ready to take the lead or even be an active participant then ask if you can sit in on the meetings to learn the process to be a student. Prove you are willing to take the small steps to learn to take the larger ones.
The more consistent you can be in your messaging and actions the more successful you will be in achieving your goals and the more support you will gain along the way.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.