People live from their perception

People live from their perception

This is one of the guiding principle I learned when trained to become a coach. We all live from our perception of a reality that we see and interpret through our personal filter determined by our beliefs, our past experience, our values, our fears, etc… This is natural and what is important is to become aware of it in order to remain as open minded as possible, to avoid a potential lack of understanding of other people and to be less judgmental. This also helps us as coaches to more easily let the coachee find his own solutions rather than bringing our own solution.

Here are some illustrations, because sometimes pictures speak better than words:


So, who’s right?

If each person were open-minded enough to go and see from the other person’s perspective, they would be more likely to think: OK, this is not as clear as I thought, he may be at least as right as I am…”

Watch the following image. What do you see?

Lady young or old

A young lady or an old woman ? (the right eye of the old woman is the right ear of the young lady and the nose of the old woman is the chin of the young lady)

This is a well-known example but this illustrates very well that the reality can be seen and interpreted very differently. We can see a young lady or an old woman. And even if we both see an old lady, do we think she is sad, scary, neutral? This is the case for about anything in life.
For instance:

  • Last year, my younger son became upset when his 2 elder brothers did not want to show him what they were doing because they actually were preparing him a surprise. Even when they explained to him that they were making him a surprise, he didn’t calm down, still feeling hurt of being excluded, maybe because he did not really understand the goal of the ongoing action or maybe because he understood but it was more important for him to be part of the group and participate rather than to get a surprise. Each one had a good reason to react the way they did and only the difference in their perception of the situation led to the dispute. That’s when Dad had to say “OK guys, come on and let’s talk” …
  • Another example in the corporate world: some managers might be very directive because they have always been in a directive environment and they consider it effective and a proof of leadership but their employees might see that as a lack of trust and empowerment toward them. And vice versa, some employees might see their “not directive” manager as lacking authority, or indecisive. All this depending on their past experience and internal beliefs.

Uncovering these gaps in perception is key to create the best outcome possible in our relationships and therefore in our personal life or business. It doesn’t mean we have to approve the others’ point of view but to be open-minded and acknowledge this different perception without judgment, which allows for more possibilities in the end.

How is the perception of your employees, you colleagues, your boss, your clients, your friends, different from yours?
What are you 100% sure (and is there actually anything that you are 100% sure) and what is based on your personal filter?
What can you do about it?


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