If you think you have a bad reputation on your team, it’s time to change how people think of you.

Teams are hard. If you’ve found yourself off on the wrong foot, you need to fix it or risk becoming an outcast on your team.  Everyone knows the one person who can’t play well in the sandbox.

Obviously, the really specific list of things to do depends on how you are viewed.  If you’re the bully on the team, it will take something different than if you’re seen as a wimp.  But these three tips work for everyone.

1. Start adding value by asking good questions.

If you haven’t been adding much value, asking questions is a good way to warm up.  If you are the “know it all,” then you’ll start changing perceptions the minute you leave room for someone other than you to have the answer. In your next meeting, count the number of statements versus questions you make.  Keep the balance tipped toward questions.

2. Show you’re listening and that you’re open to hearing.

Reflect back not only the facts and information that people are saying, but try asking about how they are feeling.  If you take what you learn and change your course of action, people will feel listened to—and if they think you like them, they are more willing to like you.

3. Ask for feedback.

It doesn’t need to be formal or fancy.  Give your teammates a piece of paper with the following questions:

a) What is the value that I bring to the team?

b) Where could I use my strengths to add more value?

c) What are the limitations you see me working on?

d) Which issues or concerns are blind spots for me?

It might be a little painful at first, but you’re likely to learn that the team wants more of what’s great about you.  You’ll also learn about the things that your teammates struggle with.  Being open to that kind of feedback will instantly change how people think about you.

It doesn’t take much to get off on the wrong foot with people on your team.  Rather than saying that you want things to be different, trying showing that you’re willing and able to change.  Ask more questions. Listen and hear.  Get some feedback.

Have you ever changed a bad first impression?  I’d  love to hear how.

Further Reading

Do your Teammates Know your Struggles?

Dealing with Trust Issues on your Team

10 Teamwork Situations that Define your Character

7 Responses to 3 quick tips to fix a bad reputation on your team

  1. Tammy

    I really like the approach of asking more questions and have used this strategy myself. The key to remember when you’re digging yourself out of a hole of credibility is to ensure that the questions aren’t ‘leading’ or ‘rhetorical’. If they are, you risk the chance of still looking like a know it all. They have to be genuine and curious.

    • Jenny Lee

      Tammy – I love how you’ve mentioned the importance of being genuine and curious. No doubt that mere lip service without truly believing in your words/actions just won’t cut it, and in fact may lead you into a deeper hole. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Audra

    I agree that asking for and being open to feedback is critical here. Being open to feedback will not only help us grow and develop personally, it will help us become a great team member and add more value. Getting into a habit of sharing feedback within the team is important, since this is often like ‘building a muscle’. Working on self-awareness (and not being defensive) will go a long way.

  3. Mehrdad

    Great tips – I know many will benefit from them. Liane, many people seem to be oblivious to their poor reputations. What do you feel are some common signs people can look for?

  4. Bryan

    I haven’t necessarily had to change a really negative first impression (at least one that I am aware of!) However, you can easily apply these points to ensure you get off on the right foot in new relationships, both with individuals and teams. I often take a more casual approach to first impressions, relying on a more informal approach to finding common ground, looking for humour etc. It has served me well in most situations and yet I am sure it has also left some people wondering if I am truly interested (perception may have been that I was acting more aloof when actually what I was intending was to not come across as overbearing.)

  5. Ken

    1. Start adding value by asking good questions.
    This is a really good discussion about our misconceptions about being the dominant speakers in a meeting. Instinctively we can feel like we only add value when we are dishing out the solutions and that asking questions might highlight possible weaknesses. It raises and excellent mind set about how “know it all” participants appear to have all the answers, but this does not lend itself to functional teams . Keeping the balance tipped toward questions is an excellent mindset for building a positive team perception and encouraging participation.

  6. Pingback: Simple Steps to Rehabilitate a Bad Reputation | 3coze

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