Self Development Exercise Two: How Do Others Perceive You?

Once the first exercise is complete, we should have a good idea of how the individual in question perceives themselves to be. This is highly important, since it is that person that will inevitably be making the changes to themselves through the course of their training, so it is necessary for them to truly understand how they see themselves at the starting point, so they can ascertain what needs to be worked upon, and so they might measure their progress if their answers to the same questions differ later on. However, problems arise in that the first exercise is not designed as an objective analysis of a person’s self, since the questions need to be answered from a position of subjectivity to have any meaning (to start with, at least). Thus, in order to obtain a more objective analysis, other people need to be consulted with regards to the individual in question.

Ideally, they need to be a good, varied number of people from different backgrounds – friends, family, work colleagues, fellow students, teachers etc. The more people that are asked, the more likely it is that an accurate assessment will be gained. Since the opinions and impressions obtained will also be subjective, once the results have all been collected, they will require contrast and comparison to see if any particular patterns emerge. If they do, that inevitably demonstrates that the student is consistent in personality and behaviour, and is perceived as such. If not, this is something that will need to be addressed during the self-realisation process, so that they might understand how and why this is the case.

An example of a few questions that might be asked:

  1. What is the predominant psychological state of the person in question (i.e. the student)?

  2. Are they an optimist or a pessimist? To a lesser or greater degree?

  3. Are they an introvert or extrovert?

  4. How do they generally present themselves (physically, behaviourally etc)

  5. Are they Assertive, Aggressive or Passive?

  6. Which of the above three would suit them best, and why?

  7. How would you describe their emotional state? Are they calm? Easily provoked?

  8. How would you describe their physical state? (Refraining from aesthetic judgments)

  9. Do you see any ways in which they could change their approach to other people to be more amenable/approachable?

Those answering the questions need to be encouraged to take a balanced, objective approach to answering them and should be given a good amount of leeway with regards to how they answer – the more detailed the information given in the answers, the more likely those answers are to be useful.

Once they have been collected, compare them to the answers given by the student for the first exercise. Are there any major differences? Consistencies? Hopefully you will find more of the latter than the former – inconsistencies between the two are indicative of a significant difference between the way the student perceives themselves and the way they are perceived by others. It may be possible that they are simply misunderstood, or that their behaviour is contrary to what they perceive it to be. Regardless, this indicates that work needs to be done on the part of the student in question in order to rectify this – as the accounts become more and more similar, it seems more apparent that the student understands themselves better.