It's fair to say that we don't walk around with a full length mirror in front of us constantly so we can check our behaviour. We are not that aware of the signals we are giving off or what behaviours we are sub consciously demonstrating.
Behaviour is very deep rooted. It is driven by values, beliefs, motivation and attitude as well as our individual personality type. Because it is so deep rooted, we don't look at our own behaviour in the same ways other will.
The trouble is, because our behaviour is so deep rooted, and we have lived with it for so long, we think that the way we behave is absolutely correct. But, more often enough it's not what we think about our behaviour, it's the impact that is has on others which is more often enough the issue.
For example, we may think that we are being confident, but other people may look at that behaviour and think it's arrogance, others might think it's aggressive. We just don't know what the impact is on other people.
When we look at other peoples behaviour it is exactly the same. They are not always that aware of the behaviour they are demonstrating, but it's the way they behave and the way that it impacts on us that causes the reaction that we have to them. We use this to choose the way we respond to them.
We don't know what is driving the behaviour. What we see on the outside could well be very different to what is going on from the inside. We can use the analogy of a swan on a lake. The part we see is the swan gliding through the water, it's almost regal. But, underneath is a very different story. The swan is paddling like mad to keep itself moving. But, we only see the top and this is what we really believe is going on.
Perceptions are a funny thing. When we meet someone for the first time we use perceptions to immediately build up a picture of the type of person they are, and this is what we use when deciding how to interact with them.
So, how can you become more aware of your behaviour and how others perceive you?
Engage Your Brain - Take two seconds before you respond or react to a person or a situation, regardless of the way the are acting and behaving. Say to yourself 'You choose to behave like that, I choose to behave like this'. This will give you the time to engage your brain and consider the way you should respond rather than using a gut based or un-conscious reaction.
Ask For Feedback - If you work closely with people, ask them for feedback on the way they perceive your behaviour. Don't be afraid to do this, don't be worried about the feedback you receive, how can you change if you don't know what to change? Similarly, if you find that someone is having a negative impact on you, then give them the feedback.
Plan Tricky Discussions in Advance - If you are about to have a conversation with someone who is particularly difficult for you, then be sure to plan it in advance. Think about what you are going to say rather then do it all off the cuff.
Take A Personality Type Questionnaire - Get some guidance on how others may perceive you by taking some form of personality profiling questionnaire. These can be a great way of getting feedback on yourself without the need for asking people.
Be Assertive, Ask Questions, Get To Know People - Don't let your gut reactions or biases drive the relationships you have with people. Don't judge, ask questions and get to know more about the person. Keep an open mind and gather as many facts about people as you can, then choose how you will deal with them or interact with them.
You don't need to be to over aware to the point of being paranoid about your behaviour, but being a little more aware of your behaviour can go a long way to building long term and strong relationships with people.