When someone views you narrowly, it’s easy for them to assign a label. You may be labeled as smart, insecure, reactive, arrogant…. and each label is convenient but masks complexity. A label collapses the past, present and future into one static state. Once applied, it’s hard to remove it.
Your reputation is easier to earn than to change. If you have been labeled negatively by others, it takes a conscious effort to shift their perceptions. Here’s how:
1. Own the reputation you have — and put it in context. “I know that some people view me as arrogant. It’s not my intent, but I know I can come across that way. There are times when I have acted arrogantly, and other times when I haven’t.
2. Declare your intent to create a different reputation. “I am making a real effort to change that pattern and to be more respectful of others, both in my words and actions.”
3. Ask for their support. “I hope you will notice when I demonstrate more respect, and also let me know if I don’t. I would really appreciate your feedback on my progress or setbacks.”
4. Later, check on your progress. “Last month I mentioned my intention to be more respectful, and we’ve been in 4 meetings since. How am I doing? What could I do differently to go further in this direction?”
5. Take the feedback to heart and act on it – and thank them for their candor and support.