Perception – It’s All in the Mind

But there are problems we encounter as we perceive things the way we want to and so the road blocks are created…

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”     Aldous Huxley

Differences in Personalities: People have distinct personalities and so their perceptions also differ from one another, which cause conflicts and affect their working relationships also. Once we were having a discussion amongst a group of Senior HR professionals from various companies, when one of them said, “Why do we bestow so much magnitude to perception at work, when we have been placed together to attain some common objectives and why not just work towards them and be convivial, why study personalities of individuals and how they think? While recruiting them we should ask each one of them to leave their discernment at home… just work and believe me it will make life much easier and conflict free”.

Alas! If only we individuals were able to do that. Let’s just evaluate people on the quality of their work and personal character.

Valuing Cultural and Regional Differences: Perception of people still influence employment, our HR professionals need to control such things before they go out of hands. If not nipped in the bud, perception towards religions and culture can affect the team work. Let’s accept an individual as an individual entity, forget about the religion they belong to or the culture they come from. For example, do you really get to the level of asking your IT guy which religion he belongs to before he/she touches your computer..??

No, we would not do that in the workplace, then why make perceptions about certain religions and cultures that it starts affecting our relationships and work.

Overcoming Prejudicial Thinking and Office Politics: Assuming unsubstantiated facts and being bigotry towards some people, discriminating on the basis of caste, creed, age, gender, some one being overweight all of these come with having a perception towards these things. I know of many stories, where the discrimination happens because of past experiences, or certain beliefs we carry. For example, we give people names related to the place they belong to, such as Bihari, Punjabi, Mallu and what not?? Why discriminate? Then there are plethora of stories about how one culture is dominant in the company which often disregards all the other cultures.

Cultivate a culture that formally defines appropriate conduct and incorporates company values such as respect, open communication and customer service into the workplace. Team building, training and terminating all barriers within the organization can really work as a remedy.

Handling Those “Difficult People”: For example, sometimes, we may have the perception that the people we are working with are no good at their job, and therefore we may tend to avoid working with them, for the fear of being held responsible for their mistakes and in doing so, affecting our working relationship with our team members, and ultimately, the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization.

Embrace the uniqueness of everyone by encouraging discussions of differences and variation of opinion.

Dealing with Gossip: Another problem with perception is that you attribute intentions to people’s words and actions. Thus when you feel a person is hostile towards you, then even praise from that person can be misinterpreted; when such a person tries to help you, you feel that there is some covert motive behind that action. Perceptions will always be there, since no person can truly know another person; however one’s perception should be based on facts, and not on hearsay / misunderstandings. Where facts are not available, one should always believe that the other person is good.

Clear cut communication and transparency can make things much smoother and a culture of trust makes it easier for people to gossip about mostly other non influential stuff.

Perceptions of Power & Authority: A colleague who used to be your peer, now has been promoted as someone senior to you (not that you are reporting to him/her), suddenly you start perceiving him/her as arrogant or authoritative or develop a negative attitude towards them, why? just because they don’t get time to sit with you for lunch anymore, or because he cannot come out for that smoke break ( popularly called ‘sutta’ break) or he asked you for some kind of report. Isn’t that your perception? Where as the fact is that he is still the same. The other side is we generally tend to perceive power and authority with superciliousness and belligerence, the old school may help you develop such perceptions but the fact can be very far from what you perceive.

Wait!! Just look in to the present, for a while forget about the stereotypical notions you have, or opinions you have formed over a period of time, may be this guy with power and authority may not be the same as others.

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