A Simple Way to Find Out How Other People See You

iStock_mirrorimageHave you ever caught yourself glancing at your reflection in a mirror or glass as you walk by?

Does Your Mirror Tell the Truth?

Do you have a sense that what you see when you look in mirror might not be telling you the truth? Or at least not the whole truth?

The question you’re probably really wondering about is not how you look to yourself, but what you look like through the eyes of others.

And the way others see you is often not what you see when you look in the mirror.

When you look in the mirror, you see a put-on version of yourself.

You probably have an expression and a stance you use just for the mirror. Do you smile or raise your eyebrows a tad? Do you suck in your tummy and turn to the side a bit to see if it’s flat?

Maybe all you see are the new wrinkles around your eyes that you’re sure weren’t there last month. Or the extra few pounds you know you’re carrying.

How Would Your Friends Describe You?

But what you see when you look in the mirror doesn’t tell you what other people see when they look at you. And the difference in images may be quite striking.

Do you want a clearer idea of what other people see when they look at you?

Here’s a simple exercise that will help you see yourself as others see you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA Six-Word Portrait of YOU

Email five friends and ask them to make a list of six words they would use to describe you.

Don’t elaborate. Don’t tell them what aspect of you they should describe. Just ask for six words they’d use to describe you.

Here’s the email I’m sending to five of my friends. Feel free to cut and paste or to write your own.

Dear (Friend),

I’m inviting five friends to take part in a little experiment to help me understand how other people see me. And I hope you’ll be one of them.

Please take a quick minute to make a list of six words you’d use to describe me. No more than that. Just six words. Whichever ones pop up in your mind when you think of me.

Then send your little list to me in a reply to this email. That’s all.

Thanks so very much for your help.

I’ll let you know what I learn! 🙂

[Your name]

Collating the Responses

As the email responses come in, make a list of the words your friends send, noting where the lists overlap. Together, these words will create a little word portrait of you as seen through the eyes of your friends.

Does your six-word portrait describe the person you see when you look in the mirror? Does that word portrait paint the person you believe yourself to be?

If you’re willing, send me an email with the word picture your friends drew of you.  And add a note about whether it’s the word-picture you would have drawn of yourself.

TryTry ThisThis

Write a Six-Word Self-Portrait

While you’re waiting to hear back from your friends, develop your own list of the six words you’d use to describe yourself. Then, when you get the little word pictures back from your friends, you’ll get a sense of how closely your sense of yourself aligns with the way others see you.

I really hope you’ll share your 6-word portrait in the comments below. And yes, I’ll share mine too.

  • This is brilliant, Andrea. I sent out my invites, will keep you posted.

  • So the words that got 3 or more mentions in my case were “smart, warm, and generous.” A far cry from my first pass, which was “angry, troubled, insecure” 🙂

    • Andrea Kihlstedt

      Wow! That’s quite a contrast, Jezra! Here are some translations I got from another friend. She got back “curious.” She would said “nosy.” And for her translation of “humble” was “laden with insecurities.” Amazing what we do to ourselves. btw…I think “smart, warm and generous” are on the money for you! Thx for commenting, Jezra.