1. Are the stories people tell about you the same stories you tell about yourself?
2. What’s the gap between how you want to be seen and how others experience you now?
3. And how does that gap between your onstage performance and your backstage reality affect the daily lives of the people you serve?
Frustrated by your own answers?
That’s not entirely surprising. As Stanley Bing explained in Zen and the Art of Managing Up, “The distance between what you believe you are and the actual reality of your true nature will make you angry.”
Here are few suggestions for narrowing that gap:
1. Allow your truthful self-expression to inspire others to do (and BE) the same. Because when you applaud the gifts of YOU, you are able to applaud the gifts of those around you.
2. Let people experience that they can change your mind. Sometimes we’re too close to the parts of ourselves that drive other people crazy. As Robert Sutton suggests in The No Asshole Rule, “Stop doing things that provoke people who don’t know you well to mislabel you as a jerk.”
3. Listen careful to how people describe the way they experience OTHER people. Then, ask yourself how well – or how poorly – you’re performing in those same areas. Use others’ behaviors as mirrors to reflect your own image back to yourself. List them out, identify the attributes and then begin to embody or eliminate them in your own life.
4. Make people feel essential. People feel more comfortable around those who make them feel good about themselves. Period. So, in addition to making people feel valuable and important and special, you also need to go out of your way to make them feel essential. Like you couldn’t imagine (not) having them around. Like you don’t know where you’d be without them. Like the organization would crumble to the ground without their unique contributions. Essential. And you do so by simultaneously applauding everybody’s brilliance AND tolerating everybody’s liabilities.
5. Share comments that honor the other person’s unique feelings, thoughts and emotions. However you respond, just make sure there’s an undercurrent that communicates, “This is how I truly feel about what you’ve just offered me.”
6. Stay sensitive to this person’s immediate experience of you. People rarely forget how you treated them the last time. Therefore: Everything is a performance, everything matters and everybody is watching.
REMEMBER: Being approachable isn’t enough. You need to be perceived as being approachable as well.
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How will you close the gap between your onstage performance and backstage reality?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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