Why Perception is Important in Relationships

Jordan Brown

Read Time: 2 minutes, 58 seconds

Quick note: I got a ton of great responses to yesterday's survey. Many more than I expected. I'll review them all and find a way to turn it into a fun weekend issue. Thank you so much.

Today, we're going to talk about perception.

The way I see something is not how you see it.

And this sometimes can lead to problems.

A difference in perception is a difference in experience.

But when you take the time to understand how another person is perceiving a situation, you come out better off than when you went in.

What Perception Is

Perception is a finicky thing. Sometimes we're totally confident that we're seeing a situation in its totality, only to discover that we were missing a key element all along.

And this is not just limited to misinterpreting others' motives or ideas; it's also about how we interpret our own.

If I'm in a group and I think that Johnny McJohnson is viewing the situation in a certain way, that automatically changes how I react to Johnny. The rest of the interaction could be colored by how I think Johnny is seeing the situation.

That's all groovy if it's true. But what if it's only partly true? Or completely false? Then, we have a problem. The words I say could be totally off-base. And that is why it's important to get more information before we assume anything.

We are only as good as the information we get.

How to Understand Someone's Perception

But how do you do this, understand someone's perception?

How do you get the information you need to make good decisions and take good actions?

Well, one of the most important tools you have is the questions you ask.

Let's take a look at this.

When you ask questions, you get information in return. The information you get from others can then be used to alter your perception of the situation and glean important data about others' perceptions as well.

Now, there are all kinds of questions you can ask, but some are more important than others.

One type of question is a clarifying question. A clarifying question is one that helps you hone your interpretation of what's going on--questions like "What do you mean by that?" and "Could you give me an example of what you're talking about?"

Both of those questions give you the details to complete the picture. They get you closer to the truth. When you ask questions with the intent to clarify, you show your willingness to find common ground. But there's something else you should know about this type of question.

How you ask is just as important--if not more important--than what you ask.

There are thousands of questions you could ask to clarify a situation or interaction--but there are only so many ways you can carry yourself in the question-asking process.

It's best to carry yourself in a confident yet inquisitive posture, with good, open body language. That means arms open, not crossed, legs relaxed, not tense. If you seem defensive when you ask a question, you're going to get an altered response. Remember, this ALL comes back to perception, and everything that you do affects how others perceive you.

We could easily talk about this for hours, but I'll leave you with this nugget.

You don't have to agree with someone's perception, but you must realize that the way someone perceives something crafts their reality. Even if it's false. Even if no one else agrees with it.

That's why you must get to the heart of it. It's why you must take the time required to understand perception.