A few weeks ago I had some problems with a girl on my team. I had worked with her previously and also had an unpleasant experience. The last straw was an email thread to the entire team including managers, where she tried to call me out. I committed a cardinal work sin by responding to the entire thread with a subtle email which anyone could read between the lines and see my frustration. This lead to my managers talking to her managers and surprisingly this girl had a squeaky clean record.
Since no one had ever said anything about her before, it was clear her manager thought it was me. My manager then posed the question to me, "What will everyone say about you?". This simple question caught me off guard. Its the kind of question that I feel everyone should be asking themselves all the time in all situations. If you thought about the impressions you leave behind, what would you want people to say about you? Clearly, not everyone will like you. I am concerned with the kind of lasting characteristics that people will respect. I want to be viewed as a person of integrity, good character, loyal, and funny.
In order to find out what people thought of me, I did the hard task of asking my co-workers to tell me honestly if they find me difficult to work with. I prepared myself for the worst, and shockingly, everyone I spoke to said no. The word "opinionated" came up a few times, but never "difficult". It was a good exercise to do to make sure people's perception of you are matching with your own. While its true, some will not tell you what they really think, I asked people who I know would be honest with me.
Aside from the work aspect, I wondered what my friends would say. I also think about those interactions I have with the people I come into contact with in my life like cashiers and food service workers. Am I leaving behind a positive footprint in my daily life? No. But, I can start to think about how I leave impressions on other people. But getting back to the question at hand...
My response to my manager was, "They will say I know my shit".