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  • Writer's pictureGinny Telego

The Impact of Perceptions

When was the last time you entered an interaction thinking one thing and then realized later on that what you initially thought wasn’t accurate?  Most of the time this misalignment of perceptions is harmless.  But sometimes it can have strong negative implications on the outcome of the interaction.

Often we are not aware of our pre-conceived perceptions or how much they actually impact our way of working and the effect it has on others. 

Why Perceptions Happen

Our brains are bombarded with millions of pieces of information daily and we need to have a way to filter that data so our brains don’t explode.  One of the ways our brain does this is by associating the incoming information with something that connects to other information our brain has on file – even if the new information isn’t exactly the same as the information we have on file.  While this helps us to not be overwhelmed by the plethora of data coming at us, it can cause us to not seek out additional information to confirm that the perceptions our brain presents to us are true.

Why think about our perceptions?

In the workplace, our perceptions can cause us to react and respond to our team members in ways that create misunderstandings and conflict – which then leads to damaged relationships, lost productivity and, if not addressed, can impact employee retention.  Think about it: if I perceive that you are being stubborn because you aren’t doing what I asked, then I’m likely going to behave in a way that comes across to you as aggressive (or even worse, passive-aggressive).  Your response is then going to be resistance in some form and the cycle begins of unproductive interaction.  But what if the reason you’re not doing what I asked is that you don’t completely understand what I want you to do? How might that change both of our responses and create a better outcome? 

This happens ALL the time when people are participating in our experiential leadership and team development workshops with the horses and it’s not until they realize that part of the reason they are struggling to get the outcome they want with the horses is that the perception of WHY the horses are doing what they are doing isn’t accurate.  Read more here about this and how to shift perceptions to get a better outcome.

When we develop self-awareness of the beliefs, perceptions, and assumptions that we have about ourselves and others, we can regulate our responses in interactions and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.  This in turn helps maintain healthy relationships, decrease conflict, increase productivity, and be a place where people WANT to work.

What perceptions have you had that impacted the outcome of an interaction with a member of your team or a peer?

Ginny Telego is the President and Chief Facilitator at The Collaboration Partners, a consulting firm that focuses on partnering with horses to offer experiential leadership and team development.  A life-long horse addict with a Master’s Degree in Business Psychology, she is passionate about helping people become courageous leaders in their organizations and communities by learning from the wisdom of the herd. 

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