perception v’s reality: the key to great communication

If perception is reality, why is there a different word for it?

Wikipedia says:

Perception (from the Latin perceptio, percipio) is the organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment

It also says:

In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.

So when people say perception is reality, are they right?
In business, this is a phrase I’ve heard a lot over the years. The interesting thing is that personally, I don’t buy it. In my world, perception is purely subjective, and everyone perceives the same thing in different ways. Therefore, reality can only be the intention at the starting point – whatever that might be.

We trained, coached, advised and managed to the nth degree to be aware of how we are perceived and therefore adapt our styles. Of course, this is necessary in order to maintain a harmonious working environment, but spending all day, everyday considering how people do or might perceive your actions is pretty exhausting.

If you ask your colleagues or business networks how they perceive you, you’ll get a multitude of answers. The majority will play it nice and sit on the fence, so to speak. They’ll tell you all about the good point and brush over the not so good. The minority will have a strong opinion – and tell you about it. In my world, these people fall into one of two categories: Insecure or intuitive.

The perception of the insecure
This is a dangerous place to be. When someone doubts themselves and their own abilities, it’s human nature to detract from that by focusing or projecting onto someone else. It’s like bullying really. So if you’re on a mission to understand how you are perceived (or have been told without asking), from this type of person, then the only version of reality you’re getting is theirs. It’s only real in their world – perception is reality – except it’s not.

The truth is, these types of people know exactly what the ‘real’ reality is. A good friend of mine said to me recently that people see the world in very different ways and we must consider that when working towards a common goal. That’s the key. People see the world in very different ways. Therefore, people should see each other in reality; what they’re actually doing and what motivates them, rather than assuming that based on their own feelings, thoughts and ethics.

The perception of the intuitive
It works both ways though. I am writing this from a viewpoint of clarity – in my head. I’m sure many would disagree with that. That’s their perception, this is my reality. But I honestly believe that if you are in tune with how people function at a basic level, therefore removing the layers of opinion, judgement and politics on top; you’re left with the same framework for everyone.

If you start there, you can understand and reach every person. You can also understand that some don’t want to be reached. So the perception of the intuitive is that there is no perception, only reality. Perception can play out in black and white, written communication, where the people aren’t there to speak for themselves. The written word is perception’s stage, life is not.

Is perception reality?
Who knows. It’s a philosophical question you could debate until the cows come home. One thing is true though; in the world of business today, perception is overused and abused. If we really value people for who they are and what they bring, we should just ask them what they’re trying to achieve. And trust that it’s true. If we don’t trust it, then we don’t need to force our reality onto them. No matter how we perceive them.

If we understand this, we’ll always communicate from the heart, to the heart. This is where the treasure lay – the magic key to great communication.

If you enjoyed this, you might like the art of conversation or tweet-itis (have you got symptoms?).

Press Like, leave a comment or follow by email, I’d like to hear your views! You can also follow me on Twitter @lifeinzuri.

About lifeinzuri
Thirty-something Englanderin copywriter and business owner in Zurich ... Blogging about life, love, language barriers and small business on the best journey of my life :)

2 Responses to perception v’s reality: the key to great communication

  1. Pingback: dare to innovate! « communication for our generation

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