Perceptions Rule, So Why Not Manage Them?

Mixed Messages

Smart people manage outcomes. Successful people manage perceptions.

With alarming frequency, I meet exceptionally bright, talented professionals who miss out opportunities and respect they deserve because they fail to appreciate the importance of ‘perception management.’ In some cases, bright professionals are so focused on delivering great work that they inadvertently neglect to inquire about how their great work is perceived. Elsewhere, uber-smart professionals have an inkling or full awareness of misconception, misunderstanding, or less than ideal perceptions about their work – and they refuse to participate in influencing public opinion.

The head-down, laser-focused brainiac is easy to coach in three steps…

  1. Identify your stakeholder community.
  2. Set reminders to check-in with stakeholders
  3. Periodically engage in the small ‘p’ politics to proactively manage perceptions.

It’s more challenging to help the super smart person who intentionally avoids and thumbs his nose at the social maneuvering required to influence public opinion. These folks know that they are smarter than most. They believe that their brilliant work speaks for itself and it is beneath them participate in the soft touches that are above and beyond the strong results they are delivering.

Quiet as it’s kept, quite the extreme smarties typically don’t know where to begin when it comes to image, impression and perception management. More often than not, the big brains are more inclined to express themselves through the results of their work product: publication, invention, cure or solution.

When it comes to business success, however, delivering results is only half the battle. The other equally important half is visibility and perception management: ensuring that the right people, know the results, understand their relevance and appreciate their value. This work is nuanced and can be complex because it is so, well, personal. The good news is that as long as there is a healthy respect for the impact of perceptions, and a genuine desire to affect them – you can – and in so doing, get much more of the success and respect you deserve!


About Kali Patrice

Kali Patrice is the founder of The Image Studios, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in branding and image communication. She blogs through “Successful Expression” to share fresh ways to share insights about image, personal branding and self-expression.