How To Manage The “Vibe” You Are Giving Off
The term “vibe” has been popularized recently and applied in various contexts – it can be used to describe the atmosphere of an environment or the energy a person emits. In other words, it is our interpretation or even the perception we are gaining from something or someone. Similarly, just like how we can sense vibes, we also radiate or give off certain vibes or perceptions.
What are person perceptions?
“A general tendency to form impressions of other people. Some forms of person perception occur indirectly and require inferring information about a person based on observations of behaviours or based on second-hand information. Other forms of person perception occur more directly and require little more than seeing another person.”
These perceptions, in turn, form impressions people might have of you. Although not all aspects of what people think of you is within your control, it is important to manage impressions because they have a large impact on future interactions and how well people can work with, or for, you in the future. For example: Are you approachable? Would people like to work with you? Do people respect you? In both a work or social setting, the “vibe” you give off can actually be managed. Here’s how:
1. Identify your stakeholders.
When you go to an orchestra performance, you wouldn’t be allowed to enter the hall in a tee-shirt and jeans. Just like how some settings or venues require certain dress codes, some social settings, or workplace relationships, also require certain behaviours. This does not mean you are denying parts of yourself or should force yourself to put up an unauthentic front, it just means that you should exude behaviours that are appropriate and respectable in the specific context. As such, the way you carry yourself would also be different depending on the stakeholders you are addressing.
The three common layers of people you might interact with in the workplace are managers or superiors; colleagues or peers; as well as subordinates or juniors. Upon identifying the stakeholders, it is then important to lay out what is the ideal perception you want to give off. For example, you can list down the levels, followed by what emotional responses you expect from them, or what you wish the working relationship to be like:
- Superiors: I would like to be taken seriously with my ideas and suggestions, I want to be seen as trustworthy, I want to be known for my great technical expertise
- Peers: I want to be friendly and approachable; I want to be open and vulnerable
- Subordinates: I would like to command respect and understanding, I want to be seen as competent and a problem solver
2. Align your own behaviours.
Upon identifying your stakeholders and the vibes you want to give off with each, you can then observe whether or not your behaviours have been contributing to these goals. You might even be able to address some root causes of conflicts you have in the workplace
The Johari Window is a model that addresses how group members can communicate better:
The idea of understanding and managing your own vibe is basically to move aspects from the “blind spot” into the “open area”. Once you’ve reduced the blind spots, you can better manage the perceptions you are making known to others and reduce miscommunication that could happen in your teams.
It is crucial to then align your behaviours to your ideal impressions based on the stakeholder’s categorizations you have identified. For example
- Superiors: Have you been given fewer responsibilities because you are too friendly with your managers?
- Peers: Have you been losing out on meaningful friendships because you’ve been arrogant with your peers?
- Subordinates: Does your team constantly fail to meet deadlines because you’re too gentle with your juniors?
Of course, there could be many attributing factors, and it can only be slowly uncovered through intentional observation or by engaging in honest conversations. This leads us to the next point…
3. Ask for genuine feedback.
It’s called a “blind” spot for a reason, it is sometimes invisible to us unless someone points it out. We might think we are carrying ourselves well, without realizing we are giving off a wrong impression. Being stern might be misinterpreted as being unapproachable, and being friendly might sometimes be misinterpreted as flirty (which could be very misleading and almost dangerous in the workplace). However, there is no way to improve when we are ignorant of the need to improve.
There’s no shame in asking people about their perceptions or first impressions of you. Showing vulnerability and such willingness to learn actually builds good relationships! Just make sure that you are open to the feedback and won’t be defensive upon realizing the truths about yourself.
4. Appoint a “call-out” buddy.
Now that you have identified what vibes you want to give and behaviours to enforce it, you can then seal the deal by appointing trustworthy “call-out” buddies. Let’s be honest, we all need a friend who would call us out if we are behaving inappropriately. Of course, these should be people who have your best interest in mind. It is also important to put your guard down and to receive these constructive criticisms openly.
Having a clear understanding of the vibe we’re exuding is basically having a sense of self-awareness. This allows us to continuously improve ourselves and build healthy workplace relationships. It does indeed take a lot of time and effort but being able to manage our behaviours and emotions according to different contexts shows our sense of control over our own life – which is something super respectable and empowering!