The Perception of Privilege

The Perception of Privilege
– by Senior Level Coach, Colle Davis

How can you learn the trappings of the perception of privilege if you did not grow up luxuriating in the air of plenty and access to power?


“The attitude of success or privilege, ignorance or poverty is evident to the world throughout your life. People can read you within seconds after they meet you, and believe they know who you are and how they should treat you. This is a primal response and it is what humans do to protect themselves.” – Colle Davis, Senior Level Coach

Caveat: My stance on this is skewed because I’m a white male, 6’ 2” 185 pounds (the same weight I was when I graduated from high school) and I know privilege because I live it every day of my life and model it for others. Over the last three decades, I have taught my clients and students the vital tools necessary to build and display the sweet aura of success and accomplishment necessary for building and advancing their career.

Here are a few examples of life-changing, small adjustments in behavior for impacting people:

  • A woman barely five-foot-tall walks into a room and people think she is five eight or more. Her impact on those in the room shifts in dramatic and verifiable ways. How does she do that?
  • An African American woman learns to adjust one of her behaviors and gets promoted and then recruited at twice the salary because she owns the new behavior in her body. What is her secret?
  • A young man not qualified to move up a position in his company so he learns how to demonstrate listening, and is promoted over several of his superiors because he is perceived as someone who hears what is being said to him, and responds to the questioner and delivers the requested information.
  • A white male in his late fifties is passed over by a person a couple of years older than his daughter. He has been with the company for two decades and has four or five years left before retiring. To balance the scales, he learns how to be an exemplary second-in-command for the new boss and is the go-to person to get things done.

How are these people different from their peers? They have all learned how to implement powerful new behaviors, projected them into the person they wanted to become, practiced them and enjoyed the perks and privileges available to their chosen group.

The changes they made are simple, fun and easy to learn. Here is the glitch, they require change in these areas:

  • A recognition that a change in behavior can impact others in a positive way.
  • A shift is necessary in thinking and the ability to let go of restricting beliefs.
  • Taking stock of current behaviors that both work and do not work is vital to success.
  • Practicing and rehearsing a few new behaviors and measuring the results to create self-awareness and accountability.
  • Asking for feedback regarding the impact of contributions from associates and superiors that will elevates you in their eyes.

These shifts in recognition, rehearsal and implementation require both time and humility. It is the perception of ourselves that restricts us from privilege.

It is our perception we trust, and the behavior we portray to the world can be manipulated and enhanced through knowledge, practice and learning as we move into our new roles as leaders, movers, and trusted advisors.

These verbal and non-verbal techniques can be taught to teenagers, children, spouses, enemies, and anyone willing to suspend their disbelief for a few days to see how their new behaviors impact their environment.

For training and coaching contact Colle Davis or 804 467 1536.s

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