There’s an old saying that “Perception is Reality”. Perception is not reality but admittedly, perception can be someone’s reality. That’s because perception has an influence on how we see reality. So in essence, perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is actually true.
Isn’t perception simply how a person views things? For this example, let’s take two views of something with the only difference being the physical height of the people viewing it. Jack is 6’4′ and can see things Jill can’t see because she is only 5’3″. While taking a walk, Jack sees something and asks Jill to take a look. Unfortunately, her view was being obstructed so she couldn’t actually see what he was talking about.
Jack was surprised because he believes everyone sees what he does. He kind of takes that for granted. More than likely he will probably understand once she explains the situation to him. However, he wants to get a better understanding as to what she actually sees. To accomplish that, Jack crouches down to her eye level. He finds it quite interesting by how things look differently from her viewpoint. He realizes that her view easily gets blocked when standing with a group of people where he can see over the crowd.
Dealing with perception is no different. It’s like Jill’s viewpoint. In an effort to get a better understanding, Jack was able to physically put himself in Jill’s viewpoint. Unfortunately, we aren’t always able to physically place ourselves into the perceptions of others. To understand the perception of others, we need to ask questions and believe in what we were told. We need to understand what they are perceiving and hopefully why. Only when we deal with the perceptions of others can we truly help and coach them.
Additionally, asking for another person’s viewpoint or perception can actually help you. Take golf for example. A person hits the ball and unfortunately, it lands in the high grass. Sadly, when they go to the area where they think it went, they can’t find it. However, they take for granted that the other people they are golfing with will assist in finding their ball. Someone usually finds it. Why can one person find it and the others can’t? It could be as simple as they saw it from a different viewpoint.
It is essential for leaders to understand the perceptions of both the team and the individuals. Just like with tall Jack, the leader needs to understand what others see from their viewpoint. Only when you see their point of view, can the leader coach the person. And there will be times that once the leader understands the perception of others, they still will not be able to get the person to see it another way. Just try to manage the perceptions to achieve the desired results.
Furthermore, a leader needs to keep an open mind as well. There is always the possibility that when a leader asks questions, they can learn something from others that actually helps and changes the viewpoint of the leader.
So how do you understand perception? It’s active listening!