Perception: Is It Real?

13 Feb

Several years ago, I was taking my 6 year old son, Jordan, to school one morning.  We were both listening to the morning news on the local radio station, just as we always did while driving to his school.  Yet, that day was going to be different.  On that day, the news report began with a breaking story on the trial of a man who had killed 5 college students in Gainesville, Florida.  The news announcement started with, “Serial Killer Gets Date with Death”…then immediately, the reporter stated several other news stories that would be discussed during the radio broadcast and ended with, “…the weather is up next” before going to a commercial.  Throughout all of this, I had noticed that my son was unusually quiet.  So, instantly I knew either one of two things was happening:  either he had fallen back asleep (which he often did) or he was in deep thought about something.  Naturally, I was curious to know why the silence.  I asked him, “Are you worried about something that you have to do today at school?”  He replied, “No.”  I asked, “Did you get enough sleep last night?”  His response was, “Yes.”  So, I said, “Well, did you forget your lunch or something else?”  And his reply was, “Dad, why would anyone want to kill cereal?”

Of course, after I stopped laughing from his question, I immediately realized that I had just learned a valuable lesson:  everyone has a different perception.  We both had heard the same words spoken over the radio broadcast; however, I was thinking about how a person could bring themselves to murder another person…and my son was thinking about why some guy likes to kill a breakfast food!  WOW – that was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me.

Let’s translate that ‘ah-ha’ moment to your workplace.  We all have perceptions of what goes on at work:  perceptions about our supervisors, perceptions about policies and procedures, perceptions about our co-workers, and more.  Sometimes our perception may be accurate, but just like I learned from my son…sometimes our perception can be way off the mark.  So, how can you harness the energy of perception so that it will help you succeed in marking your spot?  Here are a few ways that I’ve discovered:

  • Listen Intently – When someone is speaking to you, limit other distractions and listen to what is being said.  Your employee, manager, co-worker, friend, or whomever is relaying a message to you.  So, it’s important that you strive to receive that same message accurately.
  • Communicate Effectively – Choose your words wisely when speaking to someone via in-person, phone or e-mail.  Don’t be vague or too broad with your message.  Utilize the best words that will be clear and concise so that the receiver of the message will understand its true meaning.
  • Be Aware of You – How does your walk match your talk?  What does your Facebook page say about you?  How do you interact with others?  Are you always 5 minutes late for that meeting?  Your online presence and your daily actions speak volumes on how people perceive you.  So, take notice of yourself and be sure you are displaying the image you want others to perceive.
  • Trust Your Gut – This is a big-one.  We all have that initial gut feeling about things from time to time.  Something just doesn’t seem right or you have a bad feeling about hiring a potential employee or implementing a policy.  Take time to check the facts and don’t rush a decision if your gut is telling you otherwise.

As we have all discovered at some point and time in our lives, perception isn’t always right but it’s very real.  If you apply these elements, you will develop a better understanding of perception and how to best use it to mark your spot in your world – whether that be at home, work, school or in your community.  Now, the next time you’re eating that bowl of Lucky Charms…think about the importance of perception, then go do something about it.

I am interested to know your thoughts about perception!  What do you think?  Leave me a comment and let’s explore this further.


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3 responses to “Perception: Is It Real?

  1. Kevin Chan

    February 14, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Well said, Craig. Do you know of any tools that can help align perception with actuality? My former employer had us go through the Emergenetics profile evaluation, and it was quite useful in facilitating communication.

  2. mariamaness

    February 14, 2013 at 6:58 am

    “The eye sees what the mind looks for”
    The Othello Principle
    Very interesting post and great suggestions!
    What are your suggestions in removing those biases we all have, and make fair judgements of people instead of grouping them into the stereotypes we created in our minds?

  3. Matthew Boyce

    February 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I like the personal story. Great advice. Now that Skype messaging and email are so prevalent in the workplace, it is very tempting for some to use these like they might text a friend. Messages are just fired off without much though. At work, I also always start an email with a greeting and end with a “Thanks,” or “Best,” and then my name.


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