Expecting that 100% of people we deal with will like, trust and resonate with us and our personal brand is as likely as pigs flying or never having to pay taxes again. It’s just implausible – sad but true.
The public speaking circuit statistics show the breakdown of how an audience will either like/dislike/be ambivalent about you. On average it often plays out at 30-30-40 (30% will love you, 30% will dislike you and 40% will just not care).
And it is generally the same for how others experience you and your personal brand – give or take some metric tweaks based on variables and circumstances.
People experience others differently based on many factors including conscious and unconscious biases, fear, hope, needs, past situations and environment. The circle of experiences we have will also filter the lens of perception. What is bronze to one is gold to another.
And if you are someone who has passionate opinions and is a disrupter, it’s a given that you will not be everyone’s cup of tea or bonox. And whilst we all would prefer a utopian 100% tick of approval, it just won’t happen.
And nor should it really as it’s part of natural business selection in drawing in our tribe and intentions. When I say mostly, I caveat that with a disdain for the attitude of “I couldn’t care if you like me not, I don’t need to impress anyone”. That attitude often comes from a place of arrogance and lack of EQ vs self-esteem and self-reflection. We should always treat people well, irrespective of whether they are our tribe or not – it’s human decency.
But for business success we need to ensure that the content, purpose, motivations and intentions of our personal brand are consistent with how we are experienced by people we want to attract and maintain relationships with.
We want to ensure that those we seek will experience us positively and as intended. If they don’t then we need to refine and re-tweak how we are showing up. And it’s ok to be in a position of having to refine – branding and positioning has to be nimble.
Before we check in to see how we are being experienced by others (prospects, clients, staff, suppliers, networks) it’s valuable to understand the three core personal brand elements:
WHO – your character, personality, values, beliefs, skills, knowledge equity, networks, physical & visual presence, voice tone, mannerisms, USPs and what you stand for and want to be known for.
WHAT – you want to achieve, attract and develop. What is your ideal market, the type of clients, staff, suppliers and networks you want to attract and maintain? ie. your ideal business tribes.
HOW – you really want to be perceived and remembered by your ideal tribe. How do you want your market to truly feel about what you do, say, look like etc.
And it’s the HOW that flows in a wave across intention to another’s perception. For example, if we want our personal brand to exemplify being a great listener and others experience us as disconnected, something is amiss. And of course we are often horrified if the feedback is counter to what we intended.
But how do we really get honest feedback of how we are truly experienced? We need to grab a big dose of courage and ask curious questions in a non-pressured way. We need to do this as it encourages others to speak their truth.
Ignorance when it comes how we are experienced is not bliss as it will impact our bottom line and reputation. We want to attract, not repel, with our personal brand to our ideal market and audience.
If you think you are being funny and others perceive you as being flippant or if you hope to be considered as thorough and are perceived as being a pain in the behind you need to know.
People generally shy away from delivering unpleasant feedback so we need to make the questions and framework ‘non-threatening’. So you must create an environment of implicit comfort that sharing the truth will not be met with negativity or adverse ramifications. By virtue you are giving permission.
And doing that can be also be pretty scary. It is a very vulnerable place to be in to potentially hear things we don’t want to hear. Sometimes our natural choice is to stick our heads in the sand – not knowing is safer. I too get a lump in my throat or stomach when I ask for feedback on how I am experienced. We are human after all. But it’s so important to get the truth.
Some starter questions could be:
- I know that everyone has a different viewpoint. So I would really appreciate your help and honest feedback. And no, don’t worry I won’t take offence if it’s negative. I would really like to know how you have experienced working with me.
- Hey, I am curious, can I ask how you felt about what I said/did/wrote? It would be great to hear your experience and feedback.
- I would really value your personal thoughts. Can I ask how you honestly experienced my service/talk/coaching etc? What did it feel like for you?
Once you have the experience feedback you will know if your personal brand intentions have met reality and is working as intended.
So how is your personal brand being really experienced by clients, colleagues, networks etc? Be open and curious and willing to take a dose of honesty.
People may forget what you said and did but will never forget how they experienced you and how you made them feel.