My friend is driving and I’m sitting next to her.
She drives along a wet, winding, country road and when she gets to a bend, my foot twitches because this is the point when I would have breaked.
She doesn’t break until what seems like a minute later. I already see myself in the ditch with a dented car…
The way we perceive things and translate them.
When two people look out of a window, they will not see the same things. Our attention is individual and selective. We focus on different things.
Our perception has a major influence on how we react and sometimes we take our perception as truth and matter of fact.
Of course we did not end up in a ditch 🙂
I received a visual image, which I translated into a meaning: danger, need to break, NOW.
My friend probably had a similar meaning, but the danger may not have been as imminent to her.
These meanings are created through our culture, knowledge and experiences. I may be afraid of spiders (because I just don’t like the buggers), but someone else may not and can just squoosh them under her foot.
I told my friend to drive slower (and we were by no means speeding). I told her I’d have breaked earlier.
We often find ourselves in situations where we need to negotiate our perceptions with other people.
If we are aware of the differences, we are already on the right path.
Here are a few things to consider next time you perceive something differently someone else:
- What visual image or detail did you focus on? Is it the same as the other person’s?
- Why did you focus on this point? Where does your meaning come from?
- Ask the other person how he/she sees things (with open ended questions)
- Get him/her to explain the why behind it (culture, knowledge, experience)
- Try for an hour to see things like that person, behave like and be that person.
- Be open minded and non-judgmental: you will get the best stories, new insights and will learn a lot. It will also help you to be more creative as you start seeing things with fresh eyes.