Things are not always what they appear – that is one of the problems with perception.
People form judgements and make conclusions about the motives and characteristics of others. Depending on personality and past experiences, people infer and judge differently. Keep reading to get some tips on how to improve your perception skills and get a better read on people…
Why Should I Develop My Perception?
First impressions are based on very little information and are influenced by factors such as social norms, stereotypes and physical cues such as dress. Implicit personality theories are collections of beliefs and assumptions that everyone has linking certain traits to other characteristics and behaviors.
What Is Your Perception?
According to Huffington Post: “South Africans are the people most likely to perceive things to be worse than they actually are, Ipsos’ 2017 survey entitled “Perils of Perception” has revealed.”
One very common perception bias is the fundamental attribution error, where people tend to blame circumstances for their own failings, yet blame the failure of others on their personalities.
The Primary Effect
We usually draw a conclusion about a person from their looks. This then affects how we treat that person. The first thing we find out about a person have the most influence on our judgments about them e.g.
- A person’s weight. Overweight people are often seen as undisciplined, disorganized, and unattractive.
- The clothes a person wears. We jump to conclusions about a person’s success, professionalism and even talent based on their wardrobe.
- A person’s age.
- Whether a person is male or female.
Is it possible to stop judging people on external factors?
Our minds tend to quickly jump to conclusions about people with little real evidence. Discrimination of this type is not good for us. It robs us of opportunities to build relationships with healthy, loving, intelligent people. This is what separates humans from other animals: We can choose our behavior.
Sum up a person more accurately by asking yourself the following questions:
- Are they a person of integrity? Do they have a proven track record of honesty, authenticity, and openness?
- How do they treat others close to them? How do they treat others that are ill, in need, or have problems? Do they make any kind of meaningful contribution to the world for which they volunteer or earn very little?
- Where have they applied their skill and talent?
Develop Active Listening Skills
Become an active listener by making a conscious effort to hear not only the words, but more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent.
- Pay attention – give the speaker your undivided attention
- Show that you are listening – use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention
- Provide feedback – reflect what is being said by asking questions, paraphrasing and summarizing the speaker’s comments periodically
- Defer judgment – don’t interrupt with counter agreements
- Respond appropriately – assert your opinions respectfully
I’ll leave you with a thought provoking quote. Think about how you feel when others judge/perceive you inaccurately. Going forward, be mindful of your perception, and keep your biases in check:
“Do not judge me until you know me. Do not underestimate me until you have challenged me AND do not talk about me until you have talked to me.” – Unknown
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