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Changing Perceptions

Have you noticed some people make you feel nervous and anxious for no apparent reason? When they offer simple feedback, you feel defensive.

What happens if you offer feedback to someone else and they get immediately defensive or upset? That wasn’t your intention, was it?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced moments where you feel like you’re banging heads rather than seeing eye to eye. Those moments where you clash with someone else without understanding how it’s come to that.

Do you come into conflict with friends, clients or work colleagues and feel you’ve been misunderstood or that people have the wrong impression of you? Wouldn’t it be good if you could rewind and take a different approach?

Why are our perceptions different?

To address this situation, we need to understand we all have different perceptions. Have you been to an event with a friend and when they talk to others about the occasion, their version of it is different to yours? 

Our brain is programmed to trigger an immediate emotional response within milliseconds of an event. It absorbs the information and stores it in our mind. Sometimes, we choose to replay the scenario in our heads over and over again. We tell our friends what happened, text our family, tell our work buddies. We re-think it and replay that feeling and emotion and it gets more impact every time. Our internal representation of our experiences then has an impact on the way we store similar events now and in the future.

There will be differences, or even disagreements, at times when you recall the same event as someone else and your memory or perception is different to theirs. This is because different factors, feelings and personal relationships were pulling different strings for them than for you at that time. Therefore, they see the same situation differently.

Can we learn to see things from a different viewpoint?

Thinking about our different preferences to everything from food, music, art and exercise to whether we prefer detail to strategy or are thinkers rather than doers can help us to start to see things differently.

We can then begin to find ways to better manage relationships and to communicate better with one another. We can learn to press ‘pause’, give ourselves time to reflect, accept, move on and use that experience in a positive way going forward.

Take a moment to recall a time when you’ve experienced a clash with another person. Then ask yourself:

-Have you considered the other person may have a point of view that you just can’t see now? Is there a possibility that both your ultimate intentions may well have been the same? Write a list of what your intentions are, and what theirs might be too

-Would you like to better understand the other person’s behaviour so you can tweak your own approach to get the best outcome going forward? Are you open?

-What would your friendly, wise, old owl say to you about the situation? Write this down.

This all affects how we feel, and how we feel affects what we think – and guess what – these affect how we behave. So, STOPPING for a breath, OPENING to another perspective and allowing your mind to wander into their world, opens a whole new way to understand that you hadn’t noticed before.

What do I do next?

If you want to know why you respond or behave in the way you do with others or want to better understand why someone else may think differently to you – Specific Learning and Coaching can help! Please email us for your free Perceptual Positions Tool, which we’ve designed to help you review past misunderstandings and conflicts to enable you to bring about positive changes in the future.

We hope you enjoyed this article and would love to hear from you

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All the best

Lindsey & Charlotte

[email protected]

01604 212734


Changing Perceptions

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