How Do Others Experience You?

Relationships and results don’t happen in a vacuum.

This reminds me so much of a dinner a few years back. My husband and I had dinner plans with a client who had become a dear friend. This was a person we both cared about a great deal and were looking forward to seeing. Earlier that day I had run into another friend at a social gathering and ended up inviting her to join us for dinner, thinking that our two friends would benefit from knowing one another.

I so regret doing that.

During dinner, my social-gathering-friend spent the entire time texting someone who was clearly more entertaining than we were, and didn’t show the least bit of interest in anyone else at the table. I was embarrassed, a bit angry, and frustrated with myself for inviting her. These two people had a lot in common and it could have been a mutually beneficial relationship. But of course, because of her behavior, there was no relationship at all.

When we’re not present and aware of how others experience us, we pay a price that goes far beyond cell phone etiquette.

That will be the last time I introduce my social-gathering-friend to people in my community.

How do others feel in your presence? Do they feel valued and seen? Do they know they matter? If not, beware. You may not mean to be “rude” or dismissive. You may simply be doing your own thing. But how you show up matters.

People don’t forget.


Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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  1. Kimberly, I enjoyed reading this. So much here. Awareness comes to mind. Self awareness and letting go of judgement.

    Who knows if your social event friend is aware of her on behavior. Perhaps how she is perceived does not matter to her. She may not even perceive herself as being rude and disconnected.

    More importantly to me is reading about what this experience brought up for you and your perception of your friend in this moment in time.

    It sounds to me, creating a space to offer intimate connection and expand on community is something you deeply value. I share that sentiment.

    In my own experience, when someone else is not I. That same vibration it can feel agitating and disrespectful and potentially conflicting.

    I am curious what would you have done differently that would have addressed the situation in a respectful way, while being aware of your emotions and perceptions and transcend the moment in the highest way possible.

    Would you have given voice to your concerns and perhaps shared the possibility for connection. With someone who shares somethings in common?

    How might you build a sustainable bridge between worlds instead of “closed door”.

  2. The thought your piece brought up, Kimberly, was how easily she might have detonated this, if she had included you in what was going on, assuming what could be going on what something that did warrant her attention if not her presence.
    A parent in hospital, a sibling keeping you updated, could have caused this. A kid off to college and having a hard time but trying to deal with it themself but needing a little TLC and prompts. It could have been so many legitimate concerns – and had they been shared, being a bit absentminded had not only been understood but elicited sympathy.

    What she got instead, was a wasted chance to make a first impression – and a strained relationship with you.

    Have you shared with her how her behavior made you feel? Sharing other’s impact on us with them is risky but ultimately a declaration of love – we want the best for them, including that they don’t shoot themselves in the foot – and trust – that our relationship is strong enough that we can be honest when we are hurt by their actions and that they, too, want to repair rather than distance themselves.

  3. “I was embarrassed, a bit angry, and frustrated with myself for inviting her.” Hmmm. Lesson learned about your social-gathering friend, but how were you to have known she would behave as she did? Your intentions were honest and sincere, and the evening might have gone the complete opposite way that it did. Knowing you, you and your husband were probably very attentive to your client friend, yes?

    That said, I agree completely with you that how WE show up matters.