I spent the better part of my life with little care for how others perceived me. Truth be told, I still feel that way. But I understand that the world makes snap judgments based on initial impressions. I'm the only one responsible for that impression, which gives me the capability of influencing those decisions. In some settings, I want you to think of me as sharp witted. In some, sarcastic. And yes, in some helpful and knowledgeable. Spend enough time with me and you'll come to realize that those -- and many more -- traits make up... me.
Let's call this effort on my part "perception shaping" for lack of a better term. It's not about hiding less-desirable traits from public view. It's not about damage control when one aspect of your personality overrides the rest and everyone who meets you thinks your an asshole. You probably are an asshole, and you need to stop being an asshole. Personalty shaping won't help that.
Personality shaping is no different than my choosing a shirt to wear for a business meeting. The "Kiss Alive II" concert tee or the pressed shirt with french cuffs? Both are in my wardrobe and both adequately represent a facet of my larger personality. The choice is pretty clear.
(A quick side note to the detractors -- this isn't license to invent or suppress. This isn't about fooling anyone or being untrue to yourself. I'm not suggesting you try adopt an attitude, stance or approach that is antithetical to your core values, complex as those may be. I'm talking about picking which card you lead with. The rest will play out during the game.)
Personality shaping your presentation skills
Justin Dixon has a great post called Why Presentation Matters and How to Make it Work. It's a great primer for those of you who hate giving presentations or feel inadequate when communicating your ideas to other people. I often see people -- smart and talented people -- fall apart on stage or quickly lose control of a conversation they are leading. Much of it is an issue of confidence, though it can be -- and often is -- more complex than that.
Presentation matters. First impressions are lasting impressions. I don't care much for the impressions I give people when I'm walking around the mall, but I care deeply for the impression I leave people with when I'm presenting information to them. I have some control over that, which means I have some control over the presentation at large. And that leads to confidence. One step at a time.
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