Project, project, project

screenshot-2016-10-07-07-48-33Whether we know it or not, like it or not we all project a persona.  And it may vary with the situation we find ourselves in.

A couple of months ago I came face-to-face with a persona I project.  Someone I completely trust told me that when we first met she was a little afraid of me.  It was a bit of shock.  I had never intended to be intimidating or to put anyone on the back foot but the context in which we met was challenging and my defence, unconscious at the time, was to get involved and assert myself.  I came across as confident, but probably from her perspective, as over confident.

The dynamic at play meant we didn’t connect straight away.  She didn’t challenge, she didn’t voice her opinion, she stepped back and felt uncomfortable and I didn’t benefit from her perspective and insights.

Well that’s all very interesting and you now know more about my processes than you probably want to.  Why am I telling you this?  Because organisations project personas too, plenty of them unconsciously.

I’ve complained to a well-known car park management company about damage done to my car in one of their car parks.  In over two months all I’ve had is acknowledgement of my emails. The persona I’m experiencing makes me feel I really don’t matter.

Recently I lost something that really mattered to me.  I revisited two places I’d been where I might have lost them.  At one place they really cared, immediately going to look with me and helping me move the furniture.  The other told me thousands of people had eaten there since so there was no point in even looking.  Guess which one I’ve regularly been back to?

You might think this all comes back to customer service.  But I think it’s more, it’s something deeper.  It cuts right to the heart of the character of the organisation.

An organisation I recently started working with was incredibly prescriptive about the way I was allowed to interact with them; then they immediately went ahead and broke all the rules!  The first interaction reflected the persona they wanted to project and the second was the reality.

The trick is matching the reality to the intention.

Step one is to know and understand the persona you project today.

Step two is to define and articulate the different persona you want to project and to whom you want to project them.  But remember, the different projections must cohere or nothing will make sense.  Nothing will be believable.

Step three is to plot a path from the first to the second and then travel along that path.

So there you have it a simple three-step process! I know, I know, there’s nothing simple about it and it’s certainly no quick fix.  It is possible to get it right though, and getting your communication right is pivotal.  Give me a call to find out more.

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By Cathy Connan

I'm an integrative psychotherapist. I help people invest in their wellbeing and live the life they want.