Is Misperception Real?
“You’re so little! I’ve been reading your work for years, and when we talked on the phone I had this image of you as being much taller!”
I wasn’t insulted. It was almost flattering. After all, there’s research to show that tall women are often more successful in business than petite women.
But why did she have that perception? What is perception, anyway?
Perception is about sensing; it’s about how you understand something.
The woman’s perception of me was based on my voice, my picture (headshot), and my writing. And even though she was wrong about how she visualized me, her perception is still valid because it was a sense, not a fact or observation. Perhaps the concept of “misperception” (which isn’t even a word, according to MS Word, though it shows up in Dictionary.com) can exist, but in my mind, it only exists in the past tense, and only by the individual who can say “I misperceived.”
Perception is different from understanding, I believe in misunderstanding! Misunderstanding is usually the result of communication break-down, not necessarily a sense, or some unconscious bias.
Perception, by definition, is a sensation — and very personal. It doesn’t matter the intention of the speaker, because the listener’s perception is valid, even if it’s misguided or coming from a place of bias. We all carry bias as a result of our upbringing and our human nature. We come to certain conclusions within seconds of an interaction with another human.
It’s a choice we make to change our perception through curiosity and open mindedness. A person cannot “mis-perceive”, because perception is a sense, or feeling, or interpretation, it’s like saying someone didn’t feel something. How would you know what someone can or cannot feel?
Perception is EVERYTHING; no matter what your intention, if the perception is different, the communication is broken and your relationship may be damaged.
Those people who are self-reflective and intentional about how they’re being perceived are a lot more likely to be successful in their endeavors.
Because the people around them know what they want and will provide the support and advocacy they need to succeed. We cannot be successful on our own; we need people to believe in us, buy our products and services, trust in our ideas, and share good reviews.
Thank you for reading, commenting on, and sharing my posts! Want to connect? Please personalize your request with a story or joke so I know you’re for real!
A skilled teacher and entertaining speaker, I offer storytelling presentations, workshops and one-to-one coaching. I teach people how to find their stories, organize them, and share them across platforms. When you learn more about your own story, your communication with others improves, guaranteed. Learning to tell your story is the key to your success.
You can find more of my work on my website, elkinsconsulting.com.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on July 13, 2016.