Perception is Reality

Wow, this is so true! Something may not be true in anyway, but if the perception is it’s true, then the impact of that perception is reality. Let me explain. I worked with a team recently who had the perception if anyone spoke up against the boss, that person would get fired. True and factual? Probably not.

However, a recent firing was tied to that person’s speaking up in a meeting and the perception was the two were related. The likelihood of them being tied together was slim, and because the firing was an HR issue the team wasn’t privy to the reason the person was let go. And that’s how rumors and perceptions begin.

The consequences of the perception included the team being fearful and the team not engaging in healthy conflict because of those fears. Because the team didn’t talk about the hard things, they were missing out on making the best decisions and second guessing any decisions that did help the team move forward. Perception stunted their progress.

What can we do to fight perception?

As someone who is fighting the perception versus the reality, you can:

1) Live with integrity of words and actions. Only time will prove what I say is what I mean. Anything contrary in my character and actions speak the loudest when it comes to perception.

2) Address the perception again and again. Tell people your story and ask for theirs. Communicate clearly about what did happen to the best of your ability. Sometimes with an HR issue all you can communicate is, “I can’t tell you what happened, but I can tell you these two things are unrelated.”

As someone who may get sucked into the perception of what’s going on, we can:

1) Question our assumptions. Did the facts support my assumption? Is there any other possible explanation?

2) Disengage from the rumor mill. When folks start talking amongst themselves, chose to walk away or encourage those around you to address the situation directly with those involved.

Life is hard enough without fighting assumptions. It takes courage to address our perceptions with one another, but it’s worth the effort and it will help your team move forward together rather than being stalemated by what might be true.

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