Friday, March 8, 2013

Perception, Perception, Perception

Realtors often explain the value of property by the descriptor: location, location, location. In dealing with people – employees, customers, leadership, and even families – the success descriptor should be: perception, perception, perception. Why? Because perception affects every facet of our thinking and our actions – how we interpret what we hear, see, believe, think, feel, and more. And very importantly, perceptions can vary significantly from person to person. Additionally, because we often view our perception as “the” perception, or as fact, it can create problems, and as the story related below, even humor.

Dr. Foster Cline, of Love and Logic fame, sent this little story to me. We have used it before but it is worth reading again.  He calls it: Laughing In The Middle Of The Night   

   At 3:00 in the morning, I’m up to download some coffee in the middle of the night.    
   So, crawling back into bed, Hermie [Foster’s wife], asking about my coming to bed after she had turned 
   in: “Honey, what time did you finally turn in last night?” “About 12:00”
    With slight reproach, she notes, “You probably watched a movie.”
    “Yeah, I watched an old Star Trek movie.”
    “What was it?”
    Admitting it wasn’t necessarily worth two hours out of my life, I admit, “It was about a ‘B’”
    “About a bee?” she inquires.
    “Yeah, about a ‘B’, I respond.
    To me, she was showing surprising interest in a scifi flick and she asks, “Tell me about it!”
    “Well,” I answer, it was about a possible clone of Captain Picard, and the clone’s threat to the Federation.”
    “And it was about a bee?” My gosh, I think, she really is interested! “Yeah, about a B”.    

     Surprisingly, she wants to know still more about a Star Trek movie of all things: “Well, tell me about it!”
    I answer, surprised, “You want to know more!?”Well, okay, 

    “The clone was working with the Romulans, but  they turned on the clone, so it all worked out 
     and the Federation was saved.”
    “But where does the bee come in?”
    “Honey, it was an okay movie but it just wasn’t that great.”
    “Yeah, but I still want to know about the bee.”
    “Well, the special effects were okay, but the acting and story line….. I don’t know… It was just dated.”
    With a little frustration, out of no-where, it seems to me, she says, “Just tell me about the buzzy bee.”    

    And all of a sudden the light of mutual misunderstanding dawns on us both, and we laugh and laugh.

Although this is obviously about communication, the underlying problem was perception.

On a more serious note.

A school district had a program designed to bring the staff closer together. Individual staff members throughout the year gave gifts or treats to their most disliked. The superintendent participated. At the end of the year when everyone removed their masks, so to speak, the superintendent was very much surprised to discover that the individual who had selected him and who had negative feelings was a person he considered a friend. Why? The problem dated back to a single event and perception. This individual had made a suggestion to the superintendent. He had enthusiastically responded with: “great idea – where did you get it?” He thought he was very positive, but she felt insulted – after all, she was obviously not smart enough to come up with good ideas on her own – this must have come from someone else.

Being aware of differences in perception will help us understand others better and consider more carefully our words and actions. There are several ways to do this. Many are presented in “The Wrong Bottom Line . . . Still,” some in previous articles, and some will be covered  here later.