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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  • Aswiniswain5

    Very well said… Particularly, about perception comes from facts and not from here-say… We must not perceive anything unless & until an event is backed by some facts & proofs….

  • Bhaskar Mhaske

    thanks archana,
    acutally i accountant by porfession but i have certain cast based perception. I am trying to overcome the same but till its not going out of my mindset.

    Please advice me. 

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hi @d54fc1c4adb452827a313f104ef7baa0:disqus ..i did not understand your question?? are you facing some trouble because of cast based perception or you have certain perception about people from different caste…Please elaborate…
    Awaiting your response…

  • Mahesh Baraskar

    Perception somtimes like belif and hard to chnage ,what one should do in such cases

  • This idea to “leave their
    discernment at home… just work and believe me it will make life much
    easier and conflict free”, has  much to say for it. From a management point of view, when people are brought together to work on an assignment, the personality traits and characteristics do play a big role in the synergy of the work unit. The manager must have some sense of “who he thinks these people are and what he sees as their contribution and weak spots” to do otherwise invites trouble.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    thank you @7bf6059451a660da5d32eca043dd3612:disqus facts is what we ignore, facts is what we overlook and just relate the situations to our own set of beliefs and past experiences..I wish we all could change this specially at workplace.. 

  • Jitend

    How to improve perceptions in general?

  • Umesh.G.Chavan

    Very nicely written article. I find this article very apt & usefull.

  • MajRajarshi

    We understand personal perceptions based on religion, community, sex may lead to erroneous judgment of our colleagues leading to conflict.
    But perceptions of different cultures for eg. in Europe – even being 2 minutes late for a meeting is taken as a very casual approach to work and the individual looses his/ her credibility. In India, someone makes an issue for a delay of 2 minutes in a meeting would be regarded as a making a mountain out of a molehill.

    So in that context isn’t stereotypes sometimes required if we are working in a global environment. This would help us mold ourselves better while interacting across cultures and communities.

  • Enideve


  • Mubasheer Ahmed

    Very helpful . Thanks.

  • Sarikaamatya

    Very good. It’s really helpful. Thank you

  • Saini Urvi

    I agree with above.
    But how to deal with promoted one colleague when he get fills with ego after that promotion.

  • Raghavendra

    Thank you very much this helps me a lot as i m HR Manager

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks @gotudada:disqus 

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you @2344241710eea73ad1d5f00439fe9a1f:disqus ..i really hope our prejudices and judgements can take some rest..:)

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you @79bbc4e9fa54207cfb576ef64d4a2551:disqus 

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hi@d022a8baeb6614f88f3421394e2a9268:disqus ..let him/her be filled with ego, in sometime will be back to normal or will repent later…stay the way you have might be your perception or misjudgment that he/she has become rude..

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Great!! That’s what it is written for..I’m glad it is of help..Keep sharing and reading…

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks @4ab758fc974cd9aeb4def2a7eaff0de4:disqus prejudices and preconceived notions creates problems…manager knowing some personality traits and weak points of employees can surely be of help, but when knowing becomes judgements the problem starts coming in….  

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you @aa0871a6003da0e7516cc8b925ed9d97:disqus for your valuable insights..our readers will surely gain from this..Keep sharing..:)


    Can any one suggest some management techniques for better efficiency and accuracy of the administration of purchase department of a large organization ?


  • GBHaecker

    Someone told me before I took action or drew a conclusion based on someone else’s words or behavior to ask myself 3 questions. 1. Do I believe the information I have to be true? 2. Is it true beyond a shadow of a doubt? and 3. And if I were not allowed to believe it to be true, would I do something different than what I plan to do right now?  This advice works extremely well when it comes to matters involving perceptions.  I believe once people recognize how much of what they believe and do is based on perceptions and not fact, they become more open to a different way of looking at things.  Its like “step one” is to recognize you have a perception and it probably is not fact.

  • Nice comment by GBHaecker 1. Do I believe the information I have to be true? 2. Is it true beyond a
    shadow of a doubt? and 3. And if I were not allowed to believe it to be
    true, would I do something different than what I plan to do right now?” Managers and employees should learn to practice this method.

  • Aroonakips

    it’s amazingly wonderful having such pieces of advice..i look forward to more of that

  • Truthalive International

    Perceptions about ourselves in the workplace is inevitable but should be over-ridden by organisational goals. This should be so because the organisation itself is bigger than any individual, how much more a fraction of personality traits of individuals. Let’s be more interested in what the individual can contribute to the growth and sustainability of the organisation where he/she finds him/herself.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Really nice..and extremely wonderful contribution by GBHaecker..I’m really glad that you shared with us….

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks Aroonakips….Keep reading!!

  • Natraj 38

    Hi, I firmly believe in all the points highlighted above and to describe about myself, I am a jovial guy who does not believe in barriers created by way of position, salary, dressing, appearance and get along uniformly with all people in the place of work irrespective of the above. But unfortunately, sometimes this is mistaken and leads to unnecessary gossip. I help my colleagues, peers and literally everyone with their problems or issues whatever it be since I have gained knowledge in every field of life let it be the smallest thing to telling which bus to take to a destination till which car to choose. Please let me have your valuable comments on my way of working.

  • Ritu

    hi! m new in professional world…. i face many new scenarios everyday and this article really helped me…it was all about “what, why and how we shall we percieve but i have a question that what weightage should be given on perception of others abt us???

  • NC Sinha

    It is good that there are differences, Else, they will be reduced to being robots. Robots are efficient, but have limitations as they will respond in a set manner all the time while situations may demand some adjustment here, some manipulation there which only a trained individual will do in his/her own individual ways. But those individual ways will have to be within the given parameters of the organization so that there is no chaos.

  • Basheer316

    Amazing facts and these will truly use help for a better work
    culture. Having said that, could you please elaborate on the following: “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”.

  • Basheer316

    what can be done to overcome such perception, is there are any designed mechanism to clear this barrier apart from clear cut communications & transparency? 

  • nikita

    Impresssive enough

  • akif shah zad

    hello mam can you help me out…