How accurately do you see yourself? Does it matter? YES!

Art Sponseller, JD, PCC, Senior Executive Coach,

How accurately do you see yourself? Does it matter? YES!We see ourselves differently than we see other people. External observations are used to see others. We see ourselves based upon our internal experience of emotions, thinking, etc. How others see us can be wildly different from how we see ourselves. This mismatch of perceptions can lead to misunderstandings, conflict, and poor results.

We all create stories that help us make sense of the world. Chris Arqyris illustrates this process with his Ladder of Inference to explain how humans make mental models. First, we observe data/experiences, then we select observed data, then we give that data meaning, then we make assumptions based upon that meaning, then we draw conclusions, then we adopt beliefs about the world, then we act on those beliefs, and then we start over observing data and experiences.

An executive who grew up in a home that undervalued emotions but praised action may favor action as an adult. They leap into action without considering how they or others feel or think about the situation. Because the executive is not accessing this information they experience more errors and rework and lose the trust of colleagues who feel ignored or dismissed. 

A coach helps clients articulate, explore, and understand their stories, especially the costs to the client and to others. Clients can rewrite their stories / beliefs by examining the observations, meaning, assumptions, conclusions supporting their beliefs. The results are clearer communications, higher productivity, and greater trust.