Are you sure? Is it real or an illusion?

Have you ever had your boss say “Can you come into my office” and your first thought was “I’m in trouble or what have I done wrong?” only to find out they just wanted to talk to you about some matter?

There is a great TED talk by Beau Lotto that demonstrates how we perceive something can lead to a false or misleading impression of reality – illusion. Perception is a valuable way of making sense of things happening to us, however, when we assume that our perceptions are real we can get into trouble if we don’t check them out.

How many times have we all gone to a networking event and were sure before we even walked into the room that the other people there would see us as an intrusion and would not want to talk with us? We all know how that normally turns out.

I often coach managers and the people they work with and I hear what they think and feel about each other. In most cases, their perceptions of each other do not match my experience. In the workplace, it doesn’t take long to form an opinion, judge someone and interpret something someone said or did, or didn’t say or didn’t do. This can then define who they are for you and what you can expect from them in the future. Sometimes all this happens without a word being exchanged.

We are always going to have perceptions, interpretations, opinions and assessments. If we assume they are real and don’t consider that they may be illusions, we won’t take the initiative and ask what they think and why or what’s important to them, because we think we already know. The number of times I’ve been surprised when I’ve taken the time to get to know someone and found out that they are nothing like I initially thought they were.

Taking the time to get to know people builds effective and satisfying relationships and makes a substantial difference to a person’s productivity and the productivity of the team they are a part of. Are you really sure that you know the people you work with, or is it possible it could be an illusion?

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