A skilled executive coach always brings the client two things. First, help for the client to see him or her self as others do. 360 interviews are great for this. Second, an awareness of and facility with the “lenses” we all use to perceive and interpret the world. Studies from a top business school demonstrate the vital importance of both.

Prof. Nicholas Epley

Much of everyday behavior is directed toward understanding, responding to, or attempting to change how we are seen by the people around us. We can be easily led astray, however, by common errors in these perceptions. New research shows us that when we want to better understand how others see us, we should start by changing the way we look at ourselves.

“Getting beyond yourself turns out to be very difficult,” Epley said. “You can’t look at yourself through a lens that’s not colored by your own beliefs about yourself. The problem that people have intuiting other people’s impressions of them is that we just know too much about ourselves, rather than that we know too little about others.”

“The difference in the lenses through which we look at ourselves and those through which other people look at us is a major source of mistakes when people are trying to understand how they are viewed by other people,” Epley said. “Our research suggests that if we are going to intuit other people’s thoughts accurately, we have to look at ourselves through the same lens that other people look at us through.



Read the complete article here, Capital Ideas, in the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business alumni magazine.