Intention Does Not Equal Perception

Even with the best intentions, in any interaction the power belongs to the perceiver.

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It’s very difficult to be a human being.

We all live two completely separate lives. There’s the one that goes on inside our heads that only we can see, and the one in the visible world that others see.

The invisible world in our head is where we perceive ourselves. It is here that we judge ourselves based on our intentions.

But, in the visible world, we perceive and judge others through their behaviours. Without the ability to see into another’s head – without the ability to perceive intention – all we have to go on is what actions we observe.

Of course, when we “perceive” another’s actions, that perception must pass through our personal lens. Whatever makes up who we are – our past, our present, the way we think – colours the lens through which we perceive the actions of others.

And so, the perception of the perceiver will always trump the intentions of the sender, even best intentions.

Most people really do have good intentions. Despite the claim of many that they work with (or for!) a sociopath, sociopaths are an extremely small percentage of the population. Clearly, there is a disconnect between intention and perception.

So, what to do?

  • “Temet nosce”. Get to know yourself. What biases are you toting around that colour your perception?
  • Get to know those around you. Walk a mile in their shoes.
  • Get to know how those around you perceive you. Is there a gap?
  • Be mindful of how you “package” yourself, your messaging and your actions. Think how your audience will perceive you. Is this an instance where a little extra effort will get much better results?
  • Be prepared to explain not just your goals, but also your motivations.
  • Learn how to take the emotion out of situations and conduct open and honest conversations.
  • Overcome anaklesis.

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