Everyone views the world through rose colored glasses. We all come from varied backgrounds and are equally unique. These differences should be celebrated and used to create a better understanding of the world we live in. Beyond the worthy goal of inclusion, these differences help all of us see things in a new way. Behold the power of perception!
When most of us see a cat we typically think: cute, cuddly, funny, or simply not dangerous (well… maybe not all of us). However, from a mouse’s perspective, when he sees a cat, he sees and smells danger. Trust me, if you were the mouse’s size, you would too.
A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the concept of Active Listening and its importance in our daily lives. A large part of being an active listener is translating the message into a language that you understand. That translation process inevitably includes our personal perceptions.
Whenever we encounter new information, we try and make sense of the information using our experiences. Because of this application of our experiences in interpreting our world, we can run into the dangerous trap of our perceptions leading us down the path of misunderstanding and confusion.
A perfect example of misperceptions is driving. Most drivers tend to get slightly upset (okay, get angry) at other drivers. They won’t get out of the middle lane, they cut us off, they don’t use their blinker, they drive too fast, they drive too slow, etc. This anger often causes us to feel that the other drivers are out to get us, that their behaviors and actions are a personal attack of some kind. The reality is that more often than not, the other driver simply made a mistake and was in no way out to get you.
These concepts are not new to us, but those of us who aspire to be better communicators have to start cleaning our own house (i.e., yourself). Take inventory about how you are perceiving the world. Do you feel that you’re not getting enough information? Is the world out to get you? Does everything you touch turn to gold?
In order to better understand those we interact with, we must first understand how we translate the world and the behaviors of others. Once you understand this, you can begin pushing past those dangerous perceptions and try and see the world from the viewpoints and perspectives of others.