You Are Being Watched!

You are always being watched. Your character and integrity are being judged. Think about someone being on the news after being caught on video doing something illegal, unethical, or just plain embarrassing by a fellow citizen with a video camera. How would you feel if you were being recorded and what you said and did was shown to the world?

character and integrity

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons/Christian Haugen

Well, like it or not, the same type of judgments are being made about you all the time. People are watching you now and they always have been. We all form opinions of others, it’s normal. We tend to form immediate judgments. A book is judged by its cover!

The classroom provides a very interesting look at this behavior. I find it interesting that people will behave unprofessionally in the classroom and expect you to think they will operate like professionals in the ‘real world.’

I have seen this play out many times in undergraduate engineering courses. The character a student displays in the classroom will carry forward and follow them. Their classmates and faculty have made a judgment of them and, without some powerful change of heart, that judgment will stick. Past students often ask me to be an employer reference for them, not realizing what they’re asking for.

Remember, everything you say and do brands you! If you do not want your actions, words, and images played on the news tonight, do not offer them up to be replayed and repeated in the mind of someone who observes you during the day.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Erica Brown

    I really enjoyed this article. It is so true how we have to protect our brand at all times. My good name and integrity are the most important things I have to give. Thanks for writing this article.

  • Larry Robinson

    I never thought of this being applied in the classroom, meaning my behavior being watched. I will have to make sure that I am more conscious of how I act in all situations. Sometimes we forget and express ourselves more than needed. Thanks for the article.


  • Pinky Vann

    “Yes, this is very true. I have to agree with the comment Larry made in regard to the classroom. I am reminded about a history class I had taken years ago in undergrad. This class was full of football and basketball players and everyday most of them would come to class playing around, causing distractions and talking while the Professor was lecturing. I’m not sure if they were aware of their actions, but it was very rude and childish.

    Having said that, I am now and trying to be more concious of how I act in different situations and circumstances so that I am sending a positive message not just to friends, peers, family, etc, but also to my future customers. “

  • A book is judged by its cover..! Many people that I know would like to read the prologue to buy it and judge once they read it. I think Dale’s opinion above is made based upon the human psychology where most of the people are attracted by the “colors” rather than the “contents”.

    Dale also mentions that we tend to form immediate judgments which I think derives the above opinion. The actual discussion point here I would like to make is, does that matter….? I mean the immediate judgment formed by many people (Quantity) vs. a wise judgment delivered by few intellectuals or subject matter experts (Quality)…!!! Which one is important..??

    I totally agree that our words, actions, images would tend people to make their opinions about us…!!! But again, it will not be the same across all the people. It depends on how those words, actions; images are being interpreted by certain individuals and certain walks of the society.

    For example a singer’s performance might be liked by certain sections of general audience and might be disliked by certain other sections. But, there would be some musicians, who understand what he performed. so whose opinions that singer should value?

    We born, we learn, we grow up and in that process of evaluation (is this word appropriate here..? :)) we form a character which is very unique to our selves! If we keep on changing, at some point we don’t understand ourselves…and question of self identity arises!! So I would say there should be a perfect blend of exhibiting your character and acceptance from the society….and that is your brand..I guess…!!!

  • I agree with Dale that “You are being watched”. In fact, I would like to change it to “You are being watched always”. No matter what the situation is, we need to be aware of this and always behave in a professional manner. Sometimes we can take it lightly and say that we are with friends and we can do anything. But still, we should not let our guard down and behave professionally. Dale, Thanks for writing this article.

  • Robin M.

    I’ve actually been thinking about this topic a lot lately since reading ‘Resumes are Worthless’. I’ve always had a tendency to get mildly frustrated by what I perceive as incompetence or ignorance and I have never been particularly good at hiding it at work. I know that my coworkers see me as a go to person to solve a problem but at the same time they know they’re going to get some grief about it which is not how I want to be perceived. I actually do enjoy helping and teaching others what I know so I’ve begun to make a concerted effort to not make any negative comments or complaints when asked for help. Even if I might be thinking to myself: “Haven’t I shown you this before?”.

    I think this will go a long way in improving my personal brand because it’s important to be not only technically skilled but also approachable and easy going. I’ve never been as bad as the stereotypical “angry nerd” but I certainly don’t anyone to get that idea either.

  • This is great advice. It’s very true that you have to watch what you do, how you act, what you say (and who you say it to). You can do some serious damage in a very short amount of time. I’ve experienced it! I have been able to repair the damage in some cases, but it takes more time and effort to repair than it does to destroy.

    I think I’m going to print Dale’s post out and hang it on my mirror. That way, I’ll see it every morning and it will remind me to be on my best behavior at all times.

    I’m not sure if we’re supposed to ask questions in a blog or not, but… here goes…

    If you damage your “brand” is there anything you can do to increase the speed and likelihood of being able to successfully repair it? Is there anything you shouldn’t do?

    I ask this because there are probably some folks reading this blog that are saying “This is great advice, but it’s too late, the damage is done.”

  • Good question. Yes there is. After all companies are always seen repairing brands. In fact, in the book “Resumes are Worthless” I talk about just how to do this. Here are a few hints:

    1. First ask for honest feedback. If you have damaged your brand, then first learn how bad the damage really is. This one thing has two outcomes. First you get to the REAL issue instead of what you think the issue is. Second, you immediately begin to repair. When you start HONESTLY asking for feedback, people will take notice. If you say “I feel I have done things wrong and now want to learn how to improve” then you have ALREADY improved your brand – as long as you keep working at it.

    2. Based on your feedback from item 1, move to a plan to improve things. Those people who gave you the most honest feedback might be the ones you have damaged the most. Go and now ask them for help! Seriously – ask them to help you improve. Perhaps make them part of your Personal Improvement Team.

    If you do things like this you show you care and you are really working on it. People tend to be very forgiving.