Passive Aggressive On Personal Brand
At work today, I was told that an unknown colleague mentioned negative feedback about my personal brand. For those of you unfamiliar, personal brand in a corporate setting equates to your perception within the organization. It’s the tea shared (that is what the kids call it) when you are not in the room. Someone mentions your name in passing, and the facial expression and commentary that ensue, is your personal brand. At least from that person’s point of view. Personal brand sounds fluffy and unimportant, but it can impact your livelihood. Negative comments, regardless of validity or source, travels. And the destination could be to the hiring manager you want to work for.
When I was first told, my initial reaction was anger. I’m admittedly quick tempered and tend to lash out when disrespected. This time, I did not. I calmly processed the feedback and decided how to handle it. I decided to do nothing. This is also out of character. By nature of being an introvert, I’m constantly in my head. I over analyze situations and develop multiple scenarios to determine how to handle situations. Afterwards, I’ll seek out validity from those I trust. So, why the out of character response?
1. My disdain for passive aggressive behavior. The person that shared the feedback is not invested enough or strong enough to share their feedback with me directly. They are not invested enough in my development to have a tough conversation with me. Or they are not comfortable sharing negative feedback to my face. Either way, their credibility is quite low. Folks in my professional circle have no issue confronting me, when warranted. One friend witnessed my frustration boil over in a meeting and confronted me about it the next day. She is invested in my success and had the strength to have a slightly uncomfortable conversation. If you are unable or unwilling to confront me, I will focus my energies on people that will.
2. I’m looking forward, not back. My current work situation is new, challenging and exciting. I’m in a new division with high expectations and new people to impress. I do not have advocates, yet. For years, I’ve had advocates throughout the firm, but time moves on and people leave. Its time to find my next wave of advocates. Advocates that will combat negative perceptions and highlight my strengths. To do that however, I need to earn it. For the first time in several years, I have a real challenge. I’m in a perpetual interview. That may or may not be true, but that is my approach to it. Honestly, the challenge has reinvigorated me and my career aspirations. I’m working hard, learning quite a bit and finding my path in new terrain.
3. Life moves at a frenetic pace, and I’m lucky to enjoy the journey. At 40 years of age, I’m finally at peace. Peace with my life, my choices and my future. I’m always hungry for more, but I have a sense of gratitude that comes with age and life bringing me to my knees a few times. My career will be fine. There will be bumps in the road, negative feedback and bad days. But, I know my value; what I bring to the table and deliver to organizations. Can I improve? Sure. And I’m actively working on it. Learning new skills, forming new relationships and showing my new boss that I belong. The difference is, I’m doing it for me, not to change the mind of a faceless opinion.