All of us, at some point, have been challenged by what others perceive as our “real selves”. Regardless of how often this happens, our reactions to their perceptions can range from feeling gut-punched or angry to overwhelmingly encouraged. How often, would you say, others accurately describe your own thoughts of who you believe you are, including your attitudes and behaviors? Now consider those around you…how are they feeling about what others perceive of them? Taken together, it is easy to see how relationships can get messy quick, many times based on false assumptions of one another. However, we can help create accurate awareness of others and their lives leading to fulfilling and authentic relationships, no matter their purpose.
How can we minimize the impacts of misunderstanding one another? Here are a few thoughts to encourage change:
- Resist Assumptions – Be ruthless with yourself anytime you assume anything. Practice recognizing when you do it and especially when you make decision based on it. Ask others to help you assess and better understand when you make assumptions with them. Sensitivity to your own heart grows in the light of offered transparency and accountability.
- Ask Questions towards Understanding – Clarifying questions become windows into the heart. All of us fundamentally want to define ourselves to others. Doing so helps us own our own path, and helps others see the real us.
- Invite Feedback – Making room for personal input from others in our life helps create increased sensitivity to the realness of our life. When we ask the question of ourselves on a regular basis, we strengthen our “others-centered” vision to look for the same in those around us.
Living life with others, whether at work or in our personal lives, can only be authentic and life-giving to the degree we continually grow our others-centered self-awareness. To be seen accurately by others becomes both a gift and a growth path to each of us. To offer the same to others strengthens your union with them and creates capacity for growth through all seasons. As leaders, this gift and growth path is ours to give to each person in our care. Let’s give it our best!
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