I once sat in on a communications college level class where the teacher said that when you communicate with someone, there are actually 6 ‘people’ involved in the conversation. There is you, the other person, how you perceive the other person, how they perceive you, how you perceive that they perceive you and how they perceive how you perceive you. That’s a lot going on in one conversation, but perceptions are a huge part of communication. How we perceive ourselves and others can color our views of ourselves, others and how we communicate.
Our perceptions are often not based on reality. What we perceive is often based upon our own personal realities and not based on fact. Our perceptions are colored by our experiences, feelings and beliefs, none of which are the exactly the same as another person’s. Perception is defined as ‘the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding’. Perception is a cognitive act and can therefore be distorted. Cognitive Distortions are thoughts that cause reality to be inaccurately perceived. Please see the article “Cognitive Distortions.”
Perceptions can cause problems because oftentimes one person will perceive something one way while another person may perceive it in another way. This can cause complications and confusion especially when the two people are not actively communicating with each other. Active communication can clear up any issues caused by misperception. By making sure that your perceptions are communicated clearly, and by understanding other people’s perceptions, you can have a better understanding of the world and environment around you.
Perceptions are a fact of life. Everyone is going to perceive ideas, beliefs and actions in different manners based on their experiences. Just because their perception is different from yours, doesn’t mean that either perception is wrong. The world is full of perceptions and beliefs that help us view and understand our worlds. Perceptions are not good or bad, black or white. They are what they are and it is helpful to understand that to better communicate with the world.