4 Key Steps to Change Perceptions

Change is hard. Having someone else notice and believe that you changed is even harder. You know this, but have you ever thought about why? The crux is that not only do we like to be right, but we think we are. When we develop a belief about someone, we filter everything about them through […]

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Change is hard. Having someone else notice and believe that you changed is even harder.

You know this, but have you ever thought about why?

The crux is that not only do we like to be right, but we think we are. When we develop a belief about someone, we filter everything about them through that lens. We convince ourselves that our interpretations of people’s actions, feelings, motivations, and presentations are correct based on our conclusions. As a result, we don’t make it very easy for someone else to convince us they have changed.

I experience this phenomenon frequently with my coaching clients. It is so difficult to get others to acknowledge, believe, or simply notice a change in us.

I can’t recall who to credit this quote to but it stuck with me. “It takes 100% improvement to get 10% credit.”

Yet we are all always evolving. How do we get people to see that? By adopting some ideas from Marshall Goldsmith, Sally Helgesen, and many other great coaches, along with my years of experience, I’ve put together these four key steps to get your efforts noticed.

  • Declare and Share. Get crystal clear on what you are working on. State to yourself the change you want to make and how you plan to accomplish it. Then share that goal with others. Tell people what you’re working on. Acknowledge that you’re putting past feedback and their input into action. You can even ask for input on whether the goal is the right one.
  • Be Consistent. Be consistent with your efforts to change. If you only make changes here and there, others will think it’s a fluke, or that you are not genuine with your changes. Being inconsistent with change can actually reinforce others’ existing perceptions. Remember that consistency is one of the pillars of building trust and that is exactly what you are trying to get. You want people to trust your new behaviors. If you want to read more about the pillars of trust you can check out THIS post.
  • Note and Promote. First, track your progress. Take note of the habits you are building. After all, you have to see it and believe it if you are going to convince anyone else. Then it is time to advertise your success. Don’t expect people to miraculously notice your effort. Broadcast the things you are doing to change. When you make a mistake or fall off the bandwagon, acknowledge it and tell people your plans for getting back on track. Marshall refers to this as advertising.
  • Seek Feedback. Getting people involved and invested in your success increases the likelihood that they will notice. They feel they contributed to your success, and they did! Check-in on a regular basis with simple questions such as, “Have you seen a difference with…?” and “Do you have any additional ideas on how I can continue to improve with …?” By asking if they noticed, people start to look so they can honestly answer the question the next time. Now you have them looking and therefore noticing and soon, even believing your efforts to change.

Change is hard. Behaviors can be so deeply ingrained that they take longer than we’d like to change them. Change is also very achievable. With persistence, encouragement, and resolve you can make any and all changes you want.

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