Guest Blog by Nicolle Germain, MBA

I was recently walking downtown and noticed a man with a great big smile on his face headed in the opposite direction. As our paths crossed on the sidewalk I thought: He must be having a great day. What a nice, friendly guy. I continued on to my destination with a smile in tow (as smiles are usually contagious). That simple experience taught me a valuable lesson about the power of perception.
It is amazing how the smallest act or observance can change the way you see your surroundings. On a daily basis, our perception of the world and people around us is heavily influenced by what we hear, see, and feel. It only takes a mere moment and we make a quick judgment. Good or bad, humans are naturally judgmental creatures.

Perception has great power and influence in our personal and professional lives. I realized after a recent Edmonton Synergy Network breakfast that many of Alberta’s current challenges are heavily influenced by others’ perceptions of our province. The breakfast hosted a panel of successful Edmontonians that discussed the business outlook in Alberta for 2013. Labour shortages, the desire for national economic cooperation and fostering innovation were a few topics of conversation.

Opinions impact the economy, tourism and even how cities are viewed. As emphasized at the Synergy Network breakfast, the majority of Edmontonians love our city, our culture, our festivals, our river valley, our Oilers and most of all our wonderful people. But, why do so many of us (often while on vacation) support the stereotypes and negative perceptions of Edmonton? We are sometimes the worst marketing tool for our city. In order to break the bad habits, we need to stop complaining about how cold it can get during winter and start saying: “Edmonton is a fantastic city. We have a lot of great things such as…” Conscious thought and action are key elements required when creating a positive perception – no matter what the subject matter is.

Just like having a simple smile walking down the street, your words and actions personally and professionally affect the image you portray and the success that follows. Small and negative (sometimes unintentional or unconscious) events add up and can be detrimental to your credibility. What have you done today that has positively or negatively affected others’ perception of you, your business or your city? What will you consciously change for tomorrow?

The simple lesson: Be conscious of your actions. Be aware of your words. Be mindful of how you and your business are perceived. Also, don’t forget to brag about Edmonton – as it is time to tell the world how lucky we are to live here!

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