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How do you occur for others

Do you want to know what others think of you? Are you willing to check it out?

Even though many of us would like to know what others think of us, we end up assuming we already know or trying to guess, instead of checking it out. 

If we were to ask, we imagine being told what we might not like hearing. Or we won't know what to do about it if we hear "bad news." We also imagine that others will think we're vain if we ask them directly. Finally, we may not want the other person to feel put on the spot to say what they think for fear that we might be upset with them.

To find out how we occur for others is a choice of courage. And it can be amazingly valuable as an important part of being 100% responsible for the quality of our relationships.

So the first thing to do is to make friends with that fear by using undoing fear. Use the sentence, "Holy Moly and jeepers weepers, I am so scared what they're going to say they think of me!"

Getting it started

You can do this with a person you've known for years or decades...or with someone you've only known for twenty minutes, like a seatmate on an airplane.

Consider this as the dialogue to set the context with "Bill."

"Bill, I've got an unusual favor to ask of you. Because this favor is out of the ordinary, I want you to feel comfortable in saying, 'I'd rather not,' if you'd like to decline. Can I rely on you to do that should that be the case?"

"Well, let's give it a go. Tell me what you have in mind," Bill responds.

"Thank you, Bill. Recently I've taken on a project of becoming responsible for how others see me. It's so easy for me to fantasize that I know how you (or others) think and feel about me when, in fact, I have little knowledge of what may actually be true.


We all have many automatic thoughts, feelings, opinions, and assessments about everyone we come in contact with, very often outside of our conscious awareness. Even if we know someone only for a few minutes, we will have some feelings and opinions about this person, automatic assessments about them in different areas like:

  • how honest this person is,

  • how much self-confidence they have,

  • how successful they are,

  • how friendly they are,

  • how trustworthy they are,

  • how charismatic they are,

  • and so on."


"We may have very little to base our feelings on, but we have them anyway, regardless of their accuracy. The favor that you could do for me is to give me your intuitive assessment on a scale of 0 to 10 regarding various aspects of I occur for you. When your automatic assessment is very positive, it will probably be easy to share it with me. However, the most valuable feedback you could give me would be in those areas where your assessment is less than an 8 or 9. I would be most grateful for feedback in those specific areas where your automatic assessment is less than totally favorable, okay?"

"Okay, lead the way," Bill responds.

"Thank you! The first one is 'easy going.' On a scale of 0-10, how easy going do I occur for you?"

The above script is just an idea of how to get started.

Here's a trait list

The following is a list of how others can occur for us or how we can occur for them. Use all or selected items from below to create your own customized interview list.

  • Accepting

  • Accommodating

  • Adventurous

  • Ambitious

  • Assertive

  • Authentic

  • Charming

  • Charismatic

  • Conversationalist (a good one, including allowing pauses for others to respond)

  • Cooperative

  • Courageous

  • Creating an atmosphere of trust and intimacy (not necessarily romantic)

  • Creative

  • Diligent

  • Easy going

  • Energetic

  • Enlightened

  • Flexible

  • Force in the world to be reckoned with

  • Genius

  • Generous

  • Happy

  • Hard-working

  • Helpful

  • Humorous

  • Humble (not arrogant)

  • Humanitarian

  • Humorous

  • Insightful

  • Inspiring

  • Kind

  • Knowledgeable

  • Leader (a good)

  • Light-hearted

  • Listener (good)

  • Organized

  • Patient

  • Peaceful

  • Playful

  • Rapport (how much others feel with me)

  • Reliable

  • Responsible

  • Responsive and sensitive real-time to how others are hearing what I am saying

  • Rigorous

  • Risk-taker

  • Safe (how safe I make others feel to share openly)

  • Sensitive (in the good sense)

  • Serious (in a good sense)

  • Stable

  • Successful

  • Team player

  • Trustworthy

  • Vital and fit (healthy)

  • Visionary

  • Wise

You might want to try a few negative descriptors. For these, a low score (0-2) would normally be considered "better."

  • Being a victim

  • Blaming towards others

  • Defensive with others

  • Dishonest

  • Disloyal

  • Feeling unsafe in the world

  • Gossip

  • Impatient

  • Irritable

  • Lazy

  • More interested in speaking than in listening

  • Selfish (in the bad sense of the word)

  • Showoff

  • Unreliable

One special occurrence to ask about

Your voice image makes a big difference in how you occur to others. When interviewing for candid feedback on your voice image, ask for its overall impact and how that impact can vary from time to time. Does it occur to them as loud, soft, fast, slow, rhythmic, monotone, articulate, inarticulate, authentic, inauthentic, pleasant, sexy, comforting, confronting, friendly, compassionate, defensive, blaming, complaining, praising, resigned, feeling sorry for themselves, depressed, sad, harsh, excited, confident, hesitant, irritating, authoritative, inviting, or whatever? In what ways do others like your voice image and in what ways could it be more attractive to them?

Adding more value

If you want to get even more value out of this process, consider asking a follow-up question if they rank you less than an "8" on a positive trait (or more than a "1" on a negative one): "Regardless of whether or not I might be able or willing to make any changes, can you try to tell me why you ranked me as a "6" on that, instead of an "8" or higher?" 

A shorter version for people who know you well

(adapted from a Landmark Education program)

"Thank you for your courage and honesty in agreeing to answer these questions candidly. I promise you I will learn and grow from your answers."

  • "What are my strengths?"

  • "What are my weaknesses?"

  • "What does everybody know about me?"

  • "What can people count on me for?"

  • "What can people not count on me for?"

  • "What would you want to say to me if you weren't afraid to hurt my feelings?"


I challenge you to explore the exciting world of how you occur for others. Approach at least ten people for one or the other of these interviews.

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