Perception is real, even when it’s not reality
I wanted to take a slight break from the course of actions on selling safety and focus this week on selling yourself. This blog is intended to teach you how to identify the way Leadership and the workforce perceive you and then fixing any problems you discover so you can become a strong influencer and persuader. It then will give you 8 tips to sell yourself and build your influence. Remember, knowing who you are, what you do, and why, will help influence people to buy into your thoughts and ideas. This is a great start to “selling safety.”
“if who you think you are is not always reflective of how others think you are, then there is a disconnect in your ability to sell your thought and ideas.”
What happens when you Google yourself? Here is what I found on my self.
Things I expected;
• My Facebook profile
• My LinkedIn profile
• My LEADERINFLUENCE.NET blog
• My ASSP platform statement when running for Region III, Vice President (I did not win)
• My John Maxwell, Executive Director profile
Things I did not expect;
• Dennis Baker, Wikipedia
• Denis Baker, Lab Aids (some kind of testimonial)
• Dennis Baker, an Australian Cricketer
• Dennis Baker – Actor
• Denis Baker – I sell Emus
I also found all kind of photos of Denis Baker. Some where legitimate, some I wish had another name, and some I wish were me.
The point I am trying to make is that not everything you think you are is always accurate. Some people perceive “it’s all about you,” there are people who perceive you as “making a lot of money.” Some of you probably do. Some people perceive you as an “arrogant, egotistical, self-centered SOB!” Maybe they see you as, “doing your job,” others may view you as “a passionate person committed to making sure everyone goes home every night!” I hope that every safety professional is perceived this way.
So, “Who are you?” I encourage you to find out how people perceive you as a person, safety professional, and a team member and compare reality to what your perception of yourself is.
How do you do that? Here are two uncomfortable, but straightforward ways to identify how people perceive you.
- ASK- What they tell you is reality! Ask your boss, co-workers, and those you interact within the field. The answers may be difficult to hear, but what you hear is reality.
- OBSERVE BODY LANGUAGE – Body language can give you some substantial clues on how others perceive you. For instance; what is the facial expression of the person or group when you identify unsafe behaviors or give suggestions, etc?
I think it is essential to understand how you perceive yourself vs. how the organization perceives you. After all, perception is the reality.
Here is a quick comparison indicating how I perceive myself vs. what I found is the reality:
Tough words to hear. However, it defined the road I needed to take to align perception and reality in a practical, influential manner positioning my ability to sell my ideas and professional knowledge.
So how do you sell yourself?
Here are 8 tips on selling your ideas and yourself.
1. Get On Their Radar – If people don’t know who you are, I bet you don’t have good intellect on what is needed, or the challenges people face. You can’t sell your ideas from behind a desk! Visible safety professionals (regardless of your position in the organization) are active sellers of their ideas, thoughts, and vision.
2. Be Authentic – Be who you are in the end. Don’t get me wrong, I am a dominate person who wants to get things done and I don’t accept excuses! However, I must adjust my approach based on who I am talking with and what the subject matter may be.
3. Connect – Work to connect. Connecting is the initial phase of influence. You can’t influence anyone who doesn’t trust you. Take time to get to know what people do and the challenges they face every day. Relationships are based on value. You must bring value, whether it be offering solutions, better or more comfortable PPE, a more effective way to meet policy or procedures, or simply having an open ear to their concerns or suggestions.
4. Add Value – You hear this term a lot! But I must say, it is the most critical aspect of selling safety. Value is what people feel is most important to them. The only way you can understand what people value is to have a good relationship with them. Realize, I didn’t say strong, but rather good. Every relationship also has to be mutually beneficial. Nine times out of 10, you’ll get further if you bring value rather than asking for something.
5. Get In Their Shoes –Work to understand the challenges people face every day. Whether it is the worker or Leadership, you’d be surprised the problems that you may be able to solve for each other if you just take a moment and listen.
6. Break Down Barriers – We tend to forget that we are all just people here together…somehow, we get caught up on titles and egos. I want people to trust me. If a field worker doesn’t trust me, will they follow my instructions once I leave? If a plant manager doesn’t believe I have the best interest in the plant’s performance or people, will I be able to sell my ideas and thoughts? The answer is absolutely, NO! Once the barriers are lowered, it becomes easier to connect with people and sell safety.
7. Keep Your Promises – This is a significant part of selling anything. If you promise something, then make sure you follow through. One of the biggest mistakes I made early in my career was promising everything, delivering on nothing. I broke relationships with both union and non-union workforces, Leadership, and even my family. All I was trying to do is make people happy at the time and not thinking about the future. I had to learn to make commitments to only those things I knew I could accomplish. However, I made commitments to look into situations, and I made sure I followed up and communicated what could or couldn’t be done. Trust is a blue-collar value that doesn’t always translate in a white-collar economy. If you clearly deliver on what you commit to, you will gain respect and be influential in your ability to sell safety.
Trust is a blue-collar value that doesn’t always translate in a white-collar economy.Denis Baker
8. Be Humble – We are not always right (If you think you are, reach out to me for a coaching contract, LOL). I have been wrong so many times and wouldn’t ever acknowledge it. After all, I am the safety expert, NO ONE should ever question me! Well, I was very wrong. If you want to sell your ideas, then you must be willing to compromise, bend, and flex to accomplish a joint agreement. I identified “Humility” as being one of the attributes that make up the character found in a valid sells persons. We all have ambition, are very talented and confident when making decisions and interacting with people. But I bet when most people think of safety professionals, they don’t typically describe them with the word “humility” or use the term, “humble.” I think a humble person is one who has wisdom and self—assuredness, someone who is not afraid to admit a mistake or the fact they may not have the best solution or answer. With a mindset and character based in humility, you will sell safety.
Find yourself by knowing the difference between your perception and reality. Make the necessary adjustments, learn what it takes to sell yourself and move forward, and sell safety!
Denis is an experienced Safety Professional with multi-industry experience. He is also an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical principles and relevant influencing techniques to change employee behaviors and ultimately reduce and eliminate injuries. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a passionate desire to become an effective leader.
You can contact Denis at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.