How to Use People’s Perception of You to Your Advantage

how to use people's perceptions of you

This article contains the one thing I wish I could tell everybody. In a perfect world everyone would accept it and understand it because it is applicable in all areas of our lives. People trust what they see. This has many implications for us. One implication is that how people see you is important, despite the fact that many of us are taught not to care what others think. This “logic” we’ve been taught all our lives is flawed. How people perceive you in your adult life can make you or break you. It influences your job opportunities, the positions you are offered, your pay scale, how you are treated, the type of friends you attract and what type of partner you attract.

I’d like to tell you how you can use the fact that people trust what they see to your advantage.

How to use people's perception of you

People trust what they see, so regardless of who you are, you are to people what you choose for them to see. That means if you come across as confident, people will believe that you are confident. If you come across as professional, people will believe you are professional. This goes for a multitude of contexts, whether it is business or in your personal life.

Perception is everything. A person’s perception of you is formed by hasty conclusions. Conclusions they jump to when they have their first interactions with you. I’ll take it one step further and say that who you actually are doesn’t matter to people. I say this because they don’t see you for you. You can put yourself forward to be anything that you strive to be and people will most often not question that. You are to people who they want you to be (as they perceive you). As long as you don’t do anything to the contrary of that perception you will stay that person that others perceive you to be. Each person will have a completely different opinion or perception about you. This is true because they are influenced by what you choose to show them and their own perspective and experiences.  Make sure that the side of you that you show the world is the one you don’t mind them building perceptions around.

I remember when I was studying Psychology, during the first year, I would observe the students coming in to the lecture hall. I remember one day I saw boys walking in with their baggy pants almost hanging down to their knees. They would sit and talk and giggle in the back of the class whilst the lecturer was trying to impart some great knowledge on us. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but it hit me that day: How can you take yourself seriously as a psychologist when you are not paying attention in a lecture? My perception of you as a psychologist (if you had to walk into a session acting the way you do and dressing the way you do) would be dismal. I would not want to go sit in your office and I will not have any faith in your skills. I doubt that your help will be of value. You’d just sit there with your baggy pants, giggling at me.

So as the example I gave shows, perceptions can harm your image. Making people perceive you in the best possible way can work to your advantage.  Most often the people we look up to seem to have their lives together, only because we perceive them that way. This is partly because they only put forward their best. We do not see their time of doubt, their confusion and their lack of self esteem.

You might not be confident, but you can present yourself as being confident. Body language that people perceive as confidence is; standing up straight, having your shoulders back, not looking down or collapsing in on yourself. You can speak clearly and make sure that you have even pitch and volume in your voice throughout your sentences and cut out all the doubtful phrases in your vocabulary. Such as; “i think”, “um” and “I’m not sure” and people will perceive you to be confident despite what you feel inside. If you go into the outside world like that every day, you will internalise it and it’ll become part of who you are. The same goes for telephonic or email interactions.

It may be hard to pin point which changes are necessary to portray a certain characteristic. I would suggest that you look up videos to study the mannerisms and characteristics of people who you admire. Jot down what makes you perceive them the way you do (successful, confident, in control or sexy). Then use your notes to incorporate those into your mannerisms and note the changes in how others treat you and respond to you.

At the end of the day, everybody we see or know, we know as we want to know them (because of our preconceptions) or as they have come across to us. Who they are does not matter much. In extreme cases, people have partners who are serial killers but they did not see it because their perception of them did not allow that conflicting information to be seen. But other people might say:”Well yeah, he does kind of look like a serial killer, I could have seen that coming.” (that’s a whole other article). My advice is to take note of the fact that people trust what they see and use this your benefit. Whilst not being malicious of course (we are all nice people here).

Have you ever had someone perceive you negatively, as something that you’re not? Could you overcome it? Comment below, I like hearing from you.

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One thought on “How to Use People’s Perception of You to Your Advantage

  1. This is a well written and informative article. Through out my life I have been perceived as a very unfriendly and cold because because I rarely smile….which I am not. I think I will definitely use this advice from you to change that people’s mentality of me.

    Like

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