At the EDI Portland Kick-Off last month, the portion of JD Hokoyama’s presentation that really stuck with me was about how our values influence our behaviors and how those behaviors result in perceptions and ultimately how others judge us. Some of my values include respecting authority and having group harmony. These values result in behaviors such as staying quiet in meetings and rarely challenging authority or disagreeing with peers, especially in large group settings. I used to be satisfied with this, thinking it’s okay, because I’m just being true to myself. However, I now realize that this type of behavior impacts others’ perceptions of me, which can lead them to making judgements about me that could potentially be career limiting, such as appearing like I’m not interested, not engaged, not knowledgeable, etc. I can still be true to myself while also changing people’s perceptions of me. Although it is out of my comfort zone, I have been making more efforts to speak up in meetings, contribute more ideas, and also let peers know if I don’t necessarily agree with what they are proposing. I realize things are not going to change overnight and that it is going to take a lot of practice. It is painstakingly uncomfortable (for me) at times and I still struggle with sounding confident. However, I have noticed that I’m getting slightly more comfortable doing this and am hoping to continue to make progress in this area.
At the same time, I am also trying to be more aware of the judgements I make about other people, especially if I am having trouble seeing where they are coming from or why they are approaching things a certain way. I noticed that I am more understanding when I take time to step back and consider the person's values and how that might be contributing to their behaviors which I’m perceiving a certain way.
I’m thankful that the kick-off last month opened my eyes to this subject more and helped motivate me to practice working on my behaviors as well as how I perceive and make judgements about the behavior of others.