Written by Michelle Hammond
Memes that illustrate what various people think have been popping up all over the place for just about every occupation under the sun. Why have they become so popular? They are fun. They make us laugh. But they also reveal some truth. They present an opportunity to take a light-hearted approach to a few things that are rather deep.
1) Big differences can harm relationships. We might laugh that our spouse thinks we’re lounging on the beach when we’re really buried in a pile of papers, but those misconceptions, when left to fester can create real rifts in our relationships. While it might not be possible for everyone to have a complete understanding of what everyone else is doing, working towards clarification with those who matter most can be extremely useful. What your boss thinks you do matters. What your co-workers think you do matters. What your family thinks you do matters. Take some time to see yourselves through the eyes of others. 360-degree feedback is a great way to do this – in work, in the community, and at home. And most importantly use that information to spark meaningful discussions about expectations, commitments, and opportunities to learn and grow.
2) They create a shared sense of identity for those who share that occupation. Knowing that I have a shared experience of being misunderstood a “college professor with the summers off” strengthens my tie with other college professors as we examine our jam-packed summer to do list.
3) They highlight that our identities are both personally and socially influenced. For many, the link between what others think we do, and who others think we are is tight. Our own sense of identity - who we are, what we do, and our value - is in part, determined by what other people think of us. Of course, the degree to which others influences our sense of self varies from person to person and across our life stages, but undeniably, our identity is both personally and socially influenced. We need to work towards a more accurate understanding of how others view what we do and how we come across as well a solid sense of who we are that doesn’t fluctuate based on others’ changing perceptions.
What do others think you do?