Are You True to Yourself When You Think No One's Watching?

I was brushing up on my people-watching skills while sitting on my favorite bench at my favorite park in Denver. It was one of those unusually warm and sunny days in the midst of a cold January winter in Colorado.

All-in-all, I probably sat on the bench for 45-minutes, basking in the sun and observing the many people that walked by. Although nothing out of the ordinary happened, I did notice something that I’ve never noticed before, let alone thought about.

During my stint on my bench, at least six different people must have passed by who appeared to be having conversations out loud with themselves. Naturally this seemed kind of odd to me until I figured out that each was simply talking on their cell phone using some kind of hands-free device. With this discovery, I quickly kicked into eavesdropping mode as each passed from my left to my right.

I know, pretty sad…but it wasn’t like I could just block out their conversations either.

Nevertheless, what I found fascinating about my eavesdropping was how much I was able to learn about each talker as they passed by. Seriously…in just 30-seconds (the duration of the time that I could hear their conversations), I could pick up on their disposition, demeanor, personality, whether they were a leader or a follower, and if they were an open person or somewhat closed and reserved. Truthfully, this isn’t rocket science…we all do it (be it consciously or unconsciously).

But it did cause me to wonder.

Within that 30-second glimpse, did I capture the true essence of each of these people? Was I seeing a fabrication of their persona or the persona itself?

And what about me? I’m a great communicator when I’m consciously aware of what’s coming out of my mouth. However, can I say the same thing about those conversations where I’m not consciously aware? I’m not sure.

It does make me wonder how people see me. Am I the “what you see is what you get” kind of guy or do I have two or more personas that show up from time to time?

As a management coach, I use a 360-degree assessment with my clients to determine if how they see themselves is similar to how others see them. It is an important place to start when providing awareness. Perhaps I need to do the same thing for myself. After all, I’m on my cell phone a lot!