Posted on: September 5th, 2012 by Jen Mueller

Talk Sporty to Me Blog, Leveraging Sports at Work“Other people’s perception of you is none of your business.”

That phrase has been turning over and over in my mind.  Like a pebble you hold in your hand and turn over as you ponder your own thoughts.

I first heard the phrase from Lisa Nicols during a presentation at the eWomen National Conference earlier this year.  Then I read this blog from a psychotherapist friend who also attended the conference.

After thinking it through and making several observations over the last month, I’ve decided it’s a poor philosophy to bring into business.


People’s perception of you in business directly impacts your career path. 

  • For example, the former coworker who’s body language suggested he wasn’t interested in his job.  He was shocked to learn the perception was he just didn’t care.  By the time he found out, it was too late.
  • Or the young female professional who shows up to work dressed as if she’s still on a college campus instead of in a corporate environment.  She’s surprised to learn that there’s a growing perception she doesn’t know what she’s doing and is more interested in finding a date than completing a project.  Once the perception sets in, it’s tough to change.
  • What about the employee who sets standards and expectations but doesn’t realize it comes across as being too strict, unrealistic and borderline bullying?  She’s taken aback to learn her efforts are being perceived very differently from the intent.

You can’t control everyone’s perception, but there is much more truth to saying “perception is reality” than most people want to believe.  It doesn’t mean you have to change who you are, but you might need to tweak your communication skills.   Any of the people involved in the above examples could have gotten a better handle on the situation with more open communication on two fronts.

  1. By being more vocal and talkative with specific goals, ideas, plans, etc..
  2. By being approachable so that a colleague would feel comfortable talking to you about a miscommunication or growing negative perception.


Improving your communication on both fronts starts long before you even talk about business.  The way you make small talk and chit-chat with your coworkers, colleagues and supervisors impacts the perception they have of you.  It’s not just what you say, but how you say it, the subject you use, your thoughts on the subject all of these factors builds the perception that will eventually become reality.  When you think about it that way, there’s a lot on the line.

It’s why we here at Talk Sporty to Me advocate the use of sports topics and sports conversations at work.  It allows you to engage in productive small talk, convey opinions, further your personal brand and build the reality you want to have.

If you don’t know where to start, try the Workplace Conversation Starters blog that gets posted every Monday.  You’ll find a list of suggested sports topics for the week, a short summary of why the topic is significant and questions you can use to start a conversation.

I pondered the issue of perception and reality, how about you?  Would love to hear your thoughts and how it’s impacted you at work.


Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, is helping you change the way you talk about sports at work.  After more than 12 years in sports broadcasting she understands how to leverage sports conversations in business and wants to help others build their sports knowledge and learn these techniques.  She’s available for keynotes, workshops and group presentations.  Contact for more information and read more at