Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Evolving Perceptions

I have a client who has made measurable strides in her efforts to reach her personal goal of becoming a more effective communicator. She’s acknowledged how her own tendencies have gotten in the way of her being as composed as she’d like to be, when she finds herself frustrated. She’s picked up some new tools and approaches and she’s applying them when she feels her buttons being pushed. Her efforts have not only been admirable, they’ve been noticeable. I received a message from her recently that included her continued interest in reading and learning more. She also shared her concerns because although she feels good about the significant changes she’s making, she’s concerned about whether she can change the perceptions of others who may still expect her to communicate and react in old ways. Not to say that one never falls off the wagon when striving to change old habits.

I’d like to share with you what I shared with her, in the event you’re in the midst of striving to be a more effective communicator.

Perceptions evolve. It takes time and consistent behavior—and a building of trust in that behavior—to shift someone’s expectations and perceptions of you and how you communicate. Congratulate yourself for being on the right track towards improvement and remember that current perceptions are not necessarily a reflection of your current efforts or behavior. They’re more associated with past behaviors. So keep up the good work and you can count on those perceptions shifting—over time—to better reflect the person you are today.

One additional thought . . .

If you experience someone demonstrating their perceptions of your old behavior, you may want to consider calmly approaching them and acknowledging your understanding of their experience. Ask them to offer you the chance to change that perception, and offer your ear if they have feedback for you as you move forward. That would be a good start in improving your relationship and their expectations of you.

Here’s to continuous improvement and patience with the process.


  Sandra N wrote @

I can see how evolving perceptions are applicable in many types of relationships outside of your professional relm. Your advise may be very effective in these relationships as well. Thank you from a sometimes “historic perceiver”.

  Donna Rawady wrote @

Thanks for your comment, Sandra.

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