Does it matter what other people at work think about you?
In 1984, Sally Field won the Best Actress Oscar and during her acceptance speech, she famously cried out, “You like me! Right now, you like me!”
It sounded so childish and innocent. Later, of course, she was teased mercilessly by talk show hosts for that speech, but wasn’t she just blurting out something we all sometimes feel? I confess that I’ve felt that way. After all, one of the most universal human traits is the need to be liked.
We all want to be told that we’re the best or even just better than someone else at something. We may be adults, but sometimes we are still just a little kid on the first day of school, hoping we’ll be able to make some friends.
We all suffer from insecurity from time to time. But should we care what other people think of us? Should we care if people like us? Care whether someone thinks we are good (or bad) at something?
The answer is: we should care—at least, at work.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”IYp37″ via=”yes” ]Does it matter what people think about you? At work it does![/ctt]
Your reputation at work matters. People will treat you better and respect you more if you have a good reputation. Your reputation comes from what other people think about the things you do and say. They make assumptions (which are not always correct) about the things you say and do. Those assumptions are the foundation of your reputation, good or bad.
If my reputation at work is that I’m always late, I wear inappropriate clothing, or that I gossip, I should know that some of my colleagues will not hold me in high regard, and I should care about that. My reputation will hurt me professionally, and that may carry over to the people I work for, my bosses.
I should care more if even a tiny bit of that reputation is actually valid. I may occasionally be late, and I can do something about that. If I have a reputation of “always” being late, even though it isn’t always, but occasionally, then the fact that you think I am unreliable or unprofessional is significant. Because it can hurt me professionally.
I might be up for a promotion at work, and in the interview panel someone will ask, “What do others think about Rhonda?” If someone answers something along the lines of, “She’s good, but I’ve heard people complain that she comes in late a lot,” I could lose a promotion over that perception. My professional reputation has been tarnished because of what one person shared out loud, even if it isn’t strictly true.
If you think my work is sloppy, that could hurt me professionally as well. Or if you think that I’m under-qualified, that I act unprofessionally, or anything else that impacts my reputation at all. It hurts even more if your perceptions are shared with at least one other person (and they almost always are shared).
Think about the people you like, trust, and admire at work. What these people think of you probably matters to you. And it should. I can’t imagine knowing that someone I respected and admired harbored negative thoughts about me. Reputation management is important.
Warren used to work with a woman who liked to bake for the office. She was a great baker, too. Until one day, when she told someone that when she put her baking outside to cool, she saw a mouse run by her cookies. That person told two people, who told two people, and so on. From that point on, Warren wouldn’t eat anything she brought into the office.
Should she care about what Warren thought? Yes. Warren felt that since she was so casual about potential harm to others (by possibly spreading harmful bacteria in her baking), she clearly didn’t care much about the people she worked with. Once he felt that she didn’t care, she lost his respect. He told two friends how he felt, who told two friends, and so on. Before long, her reputation was severely damaged.
What she did in her personal life affected how others perceived what she did at work, which affected her reputation.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”mXFBh” via=”yes” ]It isn’t fair, but what you do in your personal life potentially affects your reputation at work[/ctt]
I have a professional colleague who posted a comment on his Facebook page recently that read, “I post my political rants here because this is my page and I can do what I want on my own page. If you don’t like them, we probably don’t like each other anyway, and you can go **** yourself!”
I will never refer business to this colleague again. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with his politics or his right to post whatever he wants on his Facebook page. The fact that he chose to address the situation in the way he did changes the way I think about him. It was unprofessional, and it implies that he is quick to anger and unwilling to listen to the opinions of others. I don’t want to work with someone like that, especially in this job climate where there are so many qualified people looking for jobs.
It does matter what other people think about us.
I care what you think. I want you to think nice things about me because I care about my professional reputation. I care about how I express myself to others. I work hard to be a respectable person, so if I’m doing something that doesn’t sit well with you, I do care about it.
With that in mind, here is a link https://www.on-the-right-track.com/contact/ to a form for your feedback about any of my products or services. I am interested in what you think about me, and I’m willing to listen and learn from your comments.
What the stranger in the seat next to you on the bus thinks about your shoes or your hair is much less of an issue. However, the person who sits beside you at work? You should care what she thinks.
Article by, Rhonda Scharf