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November 6, 2009

When I was in seminary getting my doctorate, one of the course requirements had me fill out a self review of strengths and weaknesses.  In addition to my view of myself  the class required that I have five members of the congregation fill out a review  on me.  The five people had to range from teen to senior in order to get a broad view of how I was doing.  The scary thing was that in the areas I considered my strengths the group saw weakness and in areas I considered my weaknesses they saw strength. My perception of how I was doing was 180 degrees from how others perceived me.

Perception is defined as something detected by instinct or inference rather than by recognized perceptual cues.  Which means anything perceived is from the viewpoint of the perceiver not necessarily what is truth.  The problem comes when we believe our perception and do not dig deep enough to get to the truth.

This has consequences at many levels and in many areas of our lives.  For example, if a neighborhood perceives that a homeless shelter will lower property values, they will oppose the shelter.  If a group perceives that gay marriage will destroy families, they will oppose gay marriage.  If Republicans perceive anything that the Democrats propose is bad, they will oppose anything Democrats propose.  These decisions based on perception rather than truth can keep people in need from help, equal rights to be denied , and legislation that may do some good from ever seeing the light of day.

In my current position a group that I work with felt I was being unfair in how work was being distributed.  Their perception was that I favored certain people over others.  The truth was that not only was I going out of my way to be fair, the facts showed that the work was being fairly distributed and each employee was within a few hours of getting the same workload as anyone else.  The perception was causing the problem, not the truth.

 While I am a strong advocate of “trusting your gut”, all our lives might be better if we take a minute to verify what our senses are saying with what is reality, at least that is my perception.


One Comment leave one →
  1. November 6, 2009 11:56 am

    In Marketing they say: perception is reality. Thought-provoking post, with a nice laugh in the conclusion.

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