Relationships Are Not About Reality, They Are About Perception!

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on April 15, 2013

Visual EyesEver had the experience of someone telling you,  “You’re not listening to me!”  and you heard them say it?

Obviously, you were listening, yet somehow, they failed to perceive it.    It wasn’t about reality.  It wasn’t about facts.  It was about the very subjective experience of being heard, and how that person comes to know that it is happening.    Rather than reacting to it by defending yourself (I was so listening!) explaining (I’m distracted because I have a lot going on) excusing (if you were me, you would find it hard to concentrate too) and justifying (I heard enough!)  you have a tremendous opportunity to add that perception to what you do.

If you don’t know how people see you, hear you and think about what you say,  or what they need to see, hear and experience in order to consider what you say, what you don’t know can hurt you. Everything you say and do is filtered by perception, which results from a mental process called generalization, where little things add up–both the good and the bad.   You could be losing and think you’re winning.  You could be winning and think you’re losing.  Why leave this to chance?

Instead, add perception to what you do by asking for feedback.  First, create context by saying your desired result.   “I want to be the best manager you’ve ever had.”  “I want our service to exceed your expectations.”  “I want to be considered for a promotion.”  Then ask for help.   “I can’t do that without your help.”   Then find out what you’re doing that you could do better, what you’re not doing that you should be doing, and what you’re doing that you should stop doing.

Most importantly, ask for the evidence that would tell them that you were or weren’t doing what they tell you.   You can use the same basic approach in giving feedback, too.  Give people a good reason to hear you.  “I want you to succeed at your job.”  “I want to have a strong working relationship with you.”  “I want to be able to count on you in trying times.”  Then offer your help.   Small understandings lead to powerful generalizations.  Perception is everything.

Your comments and feedback are welcome below.

Be well,



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