cognitive readiness social intelligence Mar 20, 2024

Bernie and Emily were fighting again.

They each wanted to solve the current problem in a different way. Their way. Bernie threw out phrases like: “This is the way we’ve always done it.” And, Emily would replay: “In my last company, they did it better.”

Drew felt the team’s tension rising for a while now. There was definitely a rift between factions. The team’s output was slowing, the quality of work was dropping, and his manager was asking about the team in his one-on-one’s.

This fight stood out more though. It felt personal to Drew.

Drew was wrapping up for the day, leaving himself notes for the next morning, but he couldn’t stop thinking about his team’s slide.

Drew had been at this management thing for a while, he knew he was set in his ways but that’s because they had been working, but was now a time to pivot? He wanted to keep his image as a good manager intact. He didn’t want to come off as someone who couldn’t get the job done.

Drew kept thinking.


Drew was thinking about his self-presentation.

Self-presentation is all about how you portray yourself to others: colleagues, managers, and friends. Overall, it’s a form of personal branding. It's about consciously influencing how others perceive you and creating a positive and impactful impression.

To work on your self-presentation, start out with self-reflection, mindfulness, and self-awareness. Think about how your current self-presentation affects your relationships with co-workers, friends, and family. Consider feedback on your:

- communication style, tone, and word choice

- body language and facial expressions

- clothing and accessories

- effort or laziness

Once you have a good ‘current’ list, considered how it might be influencing career advancement opportunities or your relationships at home.

Now, decide how you want to be perceived going forward; what is your desired image?

From your ‘current’ list above, what did you write down that you want to keep? What do you want to change? Use this ‘change’ list to think about your desired image. Can you use the opposite word or term? What would you change into?

Identify your strengths and how you want to be known (e.g., expert, leader, team player; parent, friend, caregiver). Consider the overall communication style, dress code, or norms within your ideal company or culture. Align your self-presentation with your career and life aspirations and the image you want to project as you progress.

Important note: while tailoring your self-presentation, ensure it reflects your genuine personality. Self-present for yourself not for someone else.

Now plan and execute. What do you have to learn or study? Practice when and where you can with mental rehearsal and future presentations, meetings, and one-on-ones. Make sure your practice is timely, repeated reflection; stay mindful and self-aware.


That’s exactly what Drew did. When we left Drew, he was thinking, and that was him practicing mindfulness and self-awareness. He took down notes and discussed a few things with his mentor. He had a sound understanding of where he was.

Those notes turned into outlooks and goals: his desired image, how he wanted to present himself moving forward. This self-presentation wasn’t too different from how he thought of himself throughout his entire career. The difference now was that he had to make a few adjustments to his approach, learn a couple of new skills, and implement them on his team.

And Drew did. As his team got back on track, Drew was able to see that his changes where working. He wanted to be seen as a competent leader and not just as a boss, as someone who could adjust and adapt with an open mind, and as someone who could bring people together, no matter their personality nor background.

The old infighting presented the opposite, but the new teamwork presented that strong leader. Drew was able to self-present and be seen the way he wanted to be seen.

In closing

We all have some idea of how we want the world to see us. For a lot of folks that idea is tucked deep down in their subconscious. Take control of your self-presentation, and increase your social intelligence while your at it. Take a minute to self-reflect, set some goals and actions, and steer the way others see you.

Just watch how your career, relationships, and life thrive when you do.

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