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The importance of self-image and the image of others in the profession

What role do self-image and external image play in the profession? In this blog post, we show you why a realistic self-image is important for professional success and explain which method can support you on the path to self-knowledge.

How do others see me and who am I really? Those who regularly ask themselves such questions do not have to be on a spiritual course of self-discovery. Rather, the questions are part of the necessary reflection of self-image and the image of others. Differences between the two perspectives are not unusual. But what are the consequences of large differences? And what role do self-image and external image play in the profession? In this blog post, we show you why a realistic self-image is important for professional success and explain which method can support you on the path to self-knowledge.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" Anyone who thinks that there is only deceitful vanity in this sentence is mistaken. In fact, the magic mirror reveals to Snow White's stepmother whether her self-image and the image of others match. In concrete terms, this means that the mirror shows whether the image one has of oneself corresponds to what others perceive. In contrast to the fairy tale, this is actually about more than just beauty. Self-image and external image encompass all aspects of our person that we perceive ourselves or that are perceptible to others. But how can we understand both perspectives without a magic mirror?

Psychology of the Reflection(s)

Neither the self-image nor the image of others is based on facts. Both are the result of personal impressions and evaluations. 

Our self-image is primarily composed of the following aspects:

  • Previous experience
  • Skills
  • Body awareness
  • Values 
  • Wishes

Our external image, which shows how others look at us, is increasingly dependent on these factors:

  • How people perceive us
  • How they evaluate us 
  • With which feelings they confront us

It is important to understand that self-image and external image strongly influence each other. For example, if you receive admiring compliments, you will perceive yourself more positively than if others criticize you. Conversely, you have a more positive effect on others if you are convinced of yourself.  Your self-image and the image of others is influenced in a certain direction, depending on which characteristics you radiate and are mirrored. And this has an impact on your performance: privately as well as at work.

Big show-off, quiet little mouse or faithful realist?

We all know them, the different types at work. There's the colleague who always takes the floor and that one colleague who is far too modest. From time to time, however, we also meet the employee who is honest with himself, doesn't put on a big show and fulfills the announced performance. How does he do that? In contrast to the show-off and the little mouse, he is not distinguished by special professional skills, but simply by good self-knowledge, because this is directly related to performance. Someone with a negative self-image undermines his performance, while a person with a distorted positive self-image tends to overestimate himself. The colleague with a realistic self-image, on the other hand, knows his own strengths and weaknesses and can use them profitably as well as improve them. This enables him to communicate his performance clearly and to deal honestly with deficits.

Clear view thanks to Johari windows

The congruence of self-image and external image is thus necessary for reliable and transparent performance. Furthermore, this also applies to the appropriate choice of career. Those who do not admit their weaknesses or do not recognize their strengths often end up in the wrong position. So-called self-fulfilling prophecies are particularly important here: If you believe you can't perform, you actually perform less. It is therefore important to get a clear understanding of your own competence profile, because while a negative self-image often leaves you lacking motivation and drive, an overestimated self-image leads to your performance falling far short of your promises. To get a clear view of yourself, there are several methods that work without a magic mirror.

Dare a change of perspective

The Johari window can show differences between self-perception and perception of others graphically. This helps to become aware of differences and thus develop a new and honest perspective. The secret area refers to information that only you know about yourself. The public domain includes things that everyone knows about you. The unknown area is where things are located that have not yet been noticed by you and those around you. Here are certainly hidden talents that you should definitely discover. It becomes really explosive with the blind spot: This includes everything that others know about you, but you yourself do not. If you know these things, you can consciously use positive things and improve negative things. Without self-reflection, however, the blind spot can become larger. Therefore, dare to ask others for honest feedback. A change of perspective will work wonders here.

Self-knowledge as a superpower

The aim of the method is to increase the public domain through feedback and self-reflection and thus achieve a better match between self-image and the image of others. As a result, you will not only gain self-awareness in private, but you will be able to use it in a targeted manner in your professional life. Both in terms of your own performance and in cooperation with colleagues, a clear and self-confident attitude pays off. Questions about self-reflection are therefore not a spiritual luxury, but indispensable for sustainable success. A coherent performance that builds on competencies you are familiar with not only supports your own career, but also makes you a reliable and authentic employee vis-à-vis colleagues and superiors.

Narcissism and leadership

Learn about the impact of narcissism on the world of work and how to deal with it in our article on narcissism.



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