What is Perception?
Encarta World Encyclopedia defines perception as “the process of using the senses to acquire information about the surrounding environment or situation.” Perceptions are formed on the basis of what you see, hear, smell ,taste, touch and feel.
Why Perceptions matter?
Edward de Bano has said, “Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic.”Perceptions can be powerful and can impact decisions.
Perceptions play a vital role in building brands, industry, and business. Customer perceptions can make or break a business.
Michael Levine in his book,”Broken Windows, Broken Business” says “It is your customer’s perception of your business that will dictate his or her level of loyalty to your business”. Make one mistake, and you can damage that perception.
Perceptions can at times be misguided. But perceptions matter. You may have a noble cause in mind, but your actions will form perceptions about who you are. There can be a major disconnect between how you perceive yourself and how other perceive you. This can sometimes lead to frustration.
In the workplace, you may be working hard for that much-coveted position, and may think that you are fit for the promotion, but your boss may have a different opinion. What you think of yourself could be different than what others think about you. That is their perception. The result can be that you get overlooked for promotion.
In his book “Be your Own Brand” author David Mcnally says-Your personal brand is a perception held in others minds, and it has evolved through their interactions with you. Through repeated contacts between you and another person, his or her perception of you sharpens and your brand in that person’s mind becomes clearer. In other words, people are forever observing who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
At times perceptions are manipulated by information that precedes the perception. Stereotyping is also a perception effect.
Can perceptions be changed? It is always difficult but not impossible. Perceptions once formed ,have a habit of staying on for long. It always helps to recognize perception gaps and address them promptly before they become permanent.Perception management process is a continuum process .
Unmanaged perceptions turn into reality, so understand how people perceive you. As leaders ,you must know what your team, peers , boss ,stakeholders think about you so that you can change their perceptions. To do this, you need to be self-aware and also understand the impact your current behavior has on people around you.
Recently I spoke to a team manager , who was expecting his promotion. He was to take up a senior role, but at the last moment, his boss declined. Some of his team members had given a negative feedback on his delegation skills. They felt that he never trusted any of his team members and would micromanage. This came as a surprise to this team manager as he always believed that he was a good delegator. Being in the denial mode for long, cost him his promotion.
A 360-degree feedback is a good way to understand perceptions about you. Insights gained from these surveys can help you identify your blind spots. Address them to manage perceptions about you, that can harm you in the long run.
If this article compels you to think about the perceptions that your team and boss have about you, ACT FAST!
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
― Aldous Huxley