Why Your Perception Should Change

When you meet a person for the first time, you usually ask questions to get to know them on a more personal level. You typically start the questions by asking them about their career, education, whether they are single or married, and if they have children. Based upon their answers, you start to form an opinion about the person and that opinion may change over time depending on how often you interact with the person. So when you are asked “who are you?” or “tell me more about yourself?,” what do you respond with?

I’ve met many women who start their answer with, “I’m a mother.” Yes, that is an answer and it is a very awesome achievement that comes with great happiness and responsibility. But I’m often saddened by that answer because usually that is where the conversation ends. Many of these women stopped being who they were as soon as they became mothers. Often times these women have amazing backgrounds that suddenly become overshadowed by the one thing they hold in life as their purpose… being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing on anyone who is a mom. I just don’t think a person has to stop being who they are to be a mom.

I’ve also known people to answer the “who are you” question with their work title. Then they proceed to talk about their career and nothing else. Your take away is they eat, sleep, and work. It is great that people are excited about what they do for a living, but is it the only thing that defines them? I certainly hope not!

I think a better answer to these questions is “where should I begin” or “what would you like to know.” Everyone has many layers to their personality that help make up who they are as a person. Everyone has made bad mistakes and hopefully many good mistakes to get them where they are today. I’ve noticed in a few European countries that the first questions asked of you is not about your employment or career, but rather about other personal topics such as your favorite sports team, type of beer you prefer, or the current book you may be reading. These are my favorite kinds of questions because it tells me something about you. These kinds of questions usually lead into background stories of people; people feel the need to expand on why they are reading a certain book or how many times they’ve seen a particular band live in concert.Blog 3 Pic

Unless we are at a work-related convention (such as InfoComm), I actually don’t care what you do for a career. Sure, we’ll talk about it, but I want to get to know the real you, maybe you are the person who has been a Raiders fan even after they left Los Angeles or you are the super fan that has seen every Phish concert this summer.

As your job title or work environment changes, does your self-perception change? Do you grow with your new position? Do you still label yourself as “sales” or “an engineer” and end the conversation there? I’m pretty sure there is more to you than that; allow your self-perception to come through when you talk about yourself. You may be surprised how much you have in common with others when you do that.