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Jan '11

Perception = Reality?

I was writing an email to our mission planning group today and had written this phrase (perception = reality).  I thought it was the perfect addition to the point I was trying to make but the longer I stared at it, the more I questioned it.

Is perception really reality? I think I can agree with it wholeheartedly if it was lengthened to say “A person’s perception becomes their reality” but I’m not sure about it in the broad sense. It’s the age-old question of if there is an absolute truth or not.

If we perceive that something is true, regardless of how untrue it may be, until we change our perception, that is our reality. We live our life with only the knowledge of what we perceive as being true.

So, I guess I’m ok with that phrase and it probably would have fit in my email just fine. But, the point is, someone’s perception is their reality so what do you do if a person’s (or your own) perception is different than the facts.  It’s the idea that you can’t change feelings, whether right or wrong, they are just feelings. Perception is relatively similar to feelings–it’s deeper than that but has a lot of the same characteristics.

This leads to an idea that Aaron discussed with me a while ago. The idea that people, under the same conditions and with the same facts, will in most cases come to the same decision. I don’t think we’re talking about ideological leanings because that again has to do with feelings but in the sense of decisions, I think it has a lot of value.

An example of this is something that happens very often at work places. A boss tells an employee to do something because it is very important. The boss fails to include the information about why it is important. The employee then, personally doesn’t think it is all that important, so they either don’t do it quickly or don’t do it well. However, had the employee been given the same information about the importance of the task, they most likely would come to the same decision: “this is important.”

We must always be aware that our perception may be different from someone else’s and that may make our realities different. This does not mean that one person is right or wrong. We should strive to understand their point of view and always be aware of ours and work to see why the two may not add up.

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