Perceptions are everywhere – the good, the bad and the ugly. They run rampant among job seekers/employers, freelancers/prospects, husbands/wives, children/parents. They help us understand the other party and to form an opinion, whether these perceptions are accurate or not.
It’s not until we truthfully engage with the other party that these perceptions gain some validity. And by truthfully engaging, I mean asking a lot of questions such as, “This is how I understand what you just said. Is this how you meant it?” This is the only way to understand where people are coming from. Communication is a finicky thing.
Where some people go wrong, though, is when they express their negative perceptions of another in a public forum. Now, granted, your perception is your own and you formed it for a reason. But if you act out publicly, you might be doing both yourself and your brand a disservice. If you have a negative perception of someone, the best thing to do is speak with them about it, especially if you hope to have some sort of relationship with them in the future.
Misunderstandings based on perceptions occur all the time, but if I’m not sure I’ve understood something correctly, I make a concerted effort to give the other party the benefit of the doubt and give them every possible chance to help me understand where they’re coming from. I also share with them the actions they demonstrated that led me to form my opinion. Nine times out of ten, the situation is rectified and we can move forward amicably.
It’s the one time out of ten when the grievance based on a false impression is aired publicly that may keep the relationship moving forward; even though the two parties could have worked extremely well together.
These situations are unfortunate, but as a recovering job seeker and now a self-employed professional, I’ve learned that perceptions are everywhere and people base their decisions on them. The best we can all hope for is truthful dialogue and an honest exchange.
How do you deal with the idea of perception in your relationships? Do you give the benefit of the doubt and ask a lot of clarifying questions? Has someone’s perception of you ever been completely wrong? How did you deal with it?