How Often Do You Overestimate or Underestimate Someone?

Some research shows that people make judgements about others within the first 7 seconds of meeting them. Other research indicates that people make judgements of others in just a blink of an eye. 

It may be perceived by some that the odds of career success were stacked against her. A young quiet Asian-looking female with probably minimal work experience is assigned to provide strategic HR support to a client department known for their reckless ways in handling HR matters. The head of the department was likely making assumptions like, "this will make my job easier" or "who made the decision to hire this woman?". Since perceptions and stereotypes are examples of judgements that people make which has a lasting impact on ourselves and others, there is ample opportunity to challenge our own beliefs about people in the workplace.

What I find most fascinating is that people you have just met likely know very little about you. This is a great opportunity to showcase who you are by overcoming:

  1. Preconceived notions of what others are thinking of you
  2. Preconceived notions of yourself, and 
  3. Silencing your inner critic

Here are some tips to help you thrive and feel empowered:

  • Mindset and perception make all the difference. Was I just bullied by this guy? If I believe that I was bullied, my way of dealing with the situation may take me down one path. Or, did he try to intimidate me? Maybe he doesn't want me to speak up. What is his intention? How would I handle this situation if it was a woman? How I negotiate a situation is all in how I frame it in my mind. I strongly believe that you need to look at a situation objectively and from all perspectives before acting.   
  • Leverage your strengths and unique characteristics. Your unique traits are sometimes not what others perceive. Understanding what you are good at is essential.
  • Speak up. Actively listen and ask questions. Be curious and have a genuine interest in understanding the people you work with and the business. 
  • Be direct with tact. Revisit your interpersonal approaches. How impactful are your current communication approaches to help diminish any judgements people may make of you?   
  • Be self-aware. Knowing yourself and the value you bring to support others and the business is essential. 

A mentor once said to me, "you should never underestimate nor overestimate anyone". I have found that one important avenue for enhancing your work performance is to keep an open mind and to continue to be curious about people and situations. This may help you see perspectives different than your own.

ACTION: What can you do to not let others' judgement affect your performance?