Manage Perceptions

I’m sure you’ve heard it many times that “Perception is Reality”. That is such a true statement and it fits all aspects of life. I’m not talking just about work. It’s everywhere! It’s at home, school, sports, office, etc. Heck, you can have courtside seats at the NCAA Tournament with Virtual Reality (VR). So, wouldn’t it make sense to manage perceptions?

You name it and there is someone taking notice of either a product, conversation or gesture and what they observe is real to them. For example, you can send an email to someone and they might think you are mad, yet you weren’t. Who’s wrong; you or them? Did they misinterpret what you typed or did you present it wrong? Of course more than likely you will probably say they interpreted it wrong because you knew what you meant. But isn’t that really your perception of what you typed?

Manage Perceptions for Success

Regardless of your position, if you want others to assist in achieving a common goal then I strongly recommend that you manage their perception of the situation.

What I see is Real to Me

Don’t just push your expectations.  Perception is actually the ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses. Think about how you might see and understand the situation through their senses and explain the goal accordingly. This means you must understand your team members and sharpen your people skills. Hopefully, you can get their buy-in instead of forcing the objective. This isn’t easy but a team that believes in their leader will go the extra mile.

For example, my grandson was having trouble with algebra. I tried to explain it the way I learned but he couldn’t grasp it. Both of us were getting frustrated. However, I asked him what he knew and what he thought about it. This gave me an insight as to his thinking and once I learned how he saw it, I was able to explain it to him where he understood it.

Listen to Their Perceptions

To be a good leader, it doesn’t matter how good you think you are. What really matters is what your staff or team thinks of you as a leader. Are you fair, consistent, trustworthy and willing to listen to them? Realize listening doesn’t mean that you do what they ask but understand what they are asking. You can either implement what they request or provide the appropriate answer as to why you aren’t putting into action their request.

I always asked my supervisors and managers that reported to me, what they thought of their leadership skills. Then I would ask them what they think their team would say if I asked them that question. I always tried to perceive how they saw things and tried to manage that perception for the good of them and the organization.


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