I’ve learned over the years that we don’t always see ourselves very accurately. We think we’re being fair, and yet we’re being biased. We think we’re being kind, and we have a tone to our voice. We think we’re being direct, and no one knows what we’re saying.

It’s so hard to see ourselves as others see us – the good and the bad. As an executive coach, one of the most essential parts of my practice is doing just that – providing a mirror to my clients.

More often than not, I’ll stop mid-conversation with a client and point it out. “How you just said that,” I explain, “I’m pretty sure you meant it this way, but I don’t think that’s how it came across. I’m pretty sure you meant it as a positive comment, but it could easily be taken negatively.”

We just don’t see ourselves as well as we need to.

So what can you do about it? There are a few steps you can take to have a clearer view.

  • Work with a coach – a coach is most likely one of the least biased, most objective support systems anyone can have.
  • Ask a friend or colleague for help – someone else can see what you’re doing and how you’re doing it more easily than you can. Ask them to point out what might be working…and what might not.
  • Pay close, close attention to yourself – many clients have told me that, after I’ve pointed out a behavior to them, they’re extremely uncomfortable because they notice it over and over again. That’s perfect. Try (hard) to step back and notice your behavior. Pay attention to when – and why – you do the things you don’t want to do anymore. It’s the only way to learn.

It can be difficult to see ourselves as others see us – the good and the bad. But with a bit of attention and some good support, we can begin to get a clearer view, and then decide what, if anything, we want to do about it.

How do you get a clear picture of yourself? Who is your mirror?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in seeing yourself clearly, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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