It's not you, it's me... managing your perceptions

This February, we're all about creating new habits, changing minds and changing lives. We'll be posting a blog from one of the team around this theme every week. This week is business psychologist, Sara Duxbury, helping us to understand how we can manage our perceptions.

Our thoughts and perceptions about ourselves can get in the way of us behaving or responding the way we want to. Both at work and in other areas of our life. Most of the conflict we have with other people arises from thinking our perception of a situation is the ‘right’ one, but is that the crux of the problem? Can’t everyone be right?

We’re not very good at only taking the facts of a situation into account (unless we asked everyone involved to complete a written and signed statement of events – and that would be weird…). Most of the time we don’t have access to all the facts, so our brain (trying to be helpful) will fill in the gaps for us. It does this with our previous experience of this person or the last time you were in this situation, with what we have learned growing up, how someone we admire would approach this situation etc. So, what we end up with is our ‘truth’, a mix of what happened and what we perceived happened. Meaning that we believe that our truth is what actually happened.


Where this can be a challenge for us is when we have made a situation mean something it doesn’t. A good example of this is when you pass someone you know in the street, you say hello and wave, and they don’t say hello or wave back. What can you make that mean? “They don’t like me.” “They think I’m annoying.” You effectively make a decision based on your perception of the situation and most likely the next time you see this person you might decide well they ignored me so I’ll ignore them back! But let’s rewind a moment, where was the factual evidence that you based your perception on? As soon as we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on what we believe happened, we give ourselves the opportunity to ponder what else could be possible. “She might not have seen me.” “I’ve changed my hair colour recently so she might not have recognised me.” When we have the opportunity to check our thinking, we give ourselves the opportunity to respond differently and potentially achieve a more positive outcome e.g. the next time you see them “oh, I saw you on the street the other week, but I don’t think you saw me”.

By understanding that everyone can be right, simply because they see things differently to you (even if you’re both looking at the same thing!) you are giving yourself the opportunity to open up the conversation, reduce potential conflict and collaborate more.

If you're interested to learn more, get in touch with Sara via email or give her a call 01625 526979