A new friend tweeted – “you are the person I think of when I am after statistics”.
Though flattered, I never really see myself as a statistician. It doesn’t matter that I worked in marketing for the last seven years, some see me as a numbers man because for a variety of reasons that’s the way they experienced my work and brand. Yes, there are many who sees me as a marketer, some may know me as a blogger, some as a cricket tragic, and so on and so forth.
The truth is we are who people think we are. It doesn’t really matter what you think of yourself. What matters is people’s experience with your brand or service, and what they think of you as a result.
Much of the friction in our industry – job seekers vs. recruiters, agencies vs. employers, social networks vs. job boards, the list goes on – can be traced to the disconnect between people’s perception of one another. For no fault of his a good recruiter is dismissed because the client he is targeting, as a result of previous bad experience, thinks recruiters add little value. Scorn is poured on an employer for daring to dictate how they do business, because it contraststed with how some recruiters think business should be done. Last week I listened to an entrepreneur’s plan for a new job board. But, before he even launched, many already don’t like what he is trying to do.
It’s not always fair, but that’s the way it is sometimes. People view you and your company, and life in general from their own past experiences.
So what to do if others already have an unflattering opinion about you (assuming you are not at fault)? Two different paths exist. Re-educate people and try to change what they think of you (e.g. we do recruitment differently, here’s why). Which is not impossible but can be a very lengthy and expensive task (remember, millions are poured into advertising daily to try to change perceptions). Alternatively, try to delight someone else who does not already have an opinion of you.
I’d go for the second option. What about you?
I think that most of the time when people perceive or label us really and in your case, as a statistician; a perception is created and a lot of the time unconsciously. Agreeing of course that any message we broadcast creates association to a certain identity and that’s okay because it’s just human nature to match like with like – and like anything associating people with something familiar to us.
What I do believe is that no matter how we may be perceived by others that we stay true to ourselves, by understanding who we really are. In every aspect of our lives, not solely professional we are perceived through our actions in a certain way. What should always prevail are our thoughts and perception that we have of ourselves.
Chimamanda Adichie provides a great example of this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg
Great entry Phil!
I agree with Aylin – but to your first point where you try and re-educate people to change their opinion of you. It’s not a matter of what you say but also what you do… people pass judgements on other people, companies, anything really.. as a result of what they hear and what they see. Human nature is a funny thing, and sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you cannot control how people perceive you. That’s just life.