If you collect feedback from other people as part of discovering your personal brand, you may notice that who you think you are doesn’t exactly line up with how other people think about you. For example, you may think you’re confident, but others may see you as arrogant. You may think you are shy but others see you as aloof.

These dissonances, as they’re often called by psychologists, are painful. And not getting defensive is difficult. So keep a level head and show appreciation for this feedback. After all, you’re going to use it to get better at what you do. The following sections help you figure out how to improve negative perceptions and build on positive perceptions.

Uncovering the Most Common Dissonances

Mark Goulston, MD, author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone (Amacom) is a known authority on leadership communication. He has a track record of diffusing difficult hostage situations and improving debilitating corporate performance. Mark lists the ten most common dissonances to be on the lookout for. You may want to include these dissonances in your 360-feedback questions and ask people to name the top three ways you may rub them the wrong way.

Believing you are: When others perceive you as:
Shrewd Sly
Confident Arrogant
Humorous Inappropriate
Energetic Hyper
A person with strong opinions Opinionated
Passionate Impulsive
Strong Rigid or stubborn
Detail oriented Nitpicking
Quiet Passive or indecisive
Sensitive Needy

Correcting Negative Perceptions

Negative perceptions can really get in the way of advancing your career, so you need to be on the lookout for them. Sometimes you can’t do much to change innate parts of your personality, but as long as you’re aware of them, you can manage them effectively. Consider the following strategies when faced with negative perceptions that may be a detriment to your personal brand:

  1. Behave in the opposite way. If you received feedback for being too cocky, then perhaps you don’t have to show your confidence quite so much. Avoid self-aggrandizing language and tone down the confidence. If your feedback was that you’re passive or indecisive, then maybe you should speak more loudly or be the first one to speak at a meeting or networking event.
  2. Anticipate dissonance and admit it upfront. If you know what the top three misperceptions about you are and how you generally rub people the wrong way, you can anticipate situations where these dissonances may occur. The best way to dissolve any potential bad feelings is to admit your weakness upfront: “I tend to get very excited about this topic, so if I come across as impulsive or hyper, just let me know and I’ll check myself. I certainly don’t mean to offend anyone.” Or “I’m generally a quiet person, but that doesn’t mean I’m passive. If I don’t say much during this meeting, it’s because I’m the type of person who likes to think through the whole problem. I’m actually very engaged and will chime in when I can.”
What are your top 3 dissonances and what are some situations you might anticipate. Feel free to comment below.