In big corporations like SAP, perception plays a pivotal role because diverse and multi-cultural teams have to collaborate for productivity. The following sections explain how perception is relevant for organizations as well as for individuals.
Robert has always been known to lead by example at workplace. Other employees are eager to join his team because they have heard from others about how he leads by example – holds himself accountable while expecting his peers and team members to be accountable, shows empathy for their challenges, respects and encourages others.
Reeta and Maddy are colleagues. Reeta is anxious to get ahead, works hard, and takes assignments proactively at workplace.
Reeta is viewed by Maddy as ‘kissing up’ (one who flatters a superior, in order to get special attention). While Maddy’s perception (and fear) is that Reeta is making her own work look bad, Reeta may in fact be working towards her dream or may have a personal issue that causes her to work extra hard.
Perception is all about how people project or interpret you or themselves and how you project or interpret yourself and others.
Is Perception so important?
Perception begins from the day you are born into this earth where people start forming opinions about the newborn as naughty, beautiful etc. and continues until death when people at burial start talking about the dead person based on how that person was perceived around. As we grow up, we realize how important it is to be perceived well in the society by our near and dear ones.
Every company or product creates its own perception in the market and thus business thrives on that perception by customers. Brand perception is owned by the consumers and not by the brand. This is precisely why companies use huge budget and creative ideas in their branding activities to create this positive perception about the company and the products developed. Key values of an organization are reflected in brand perception.
Colgate, a brand name in the Indian household created a positive brand perception that defined trust and thus people thought of Colgate as the best brand for dental health.
Let me share an interesting example of an Indian brand that failed due to negative perception despite of the best intentions. Tata Nano, the cheapest car in the world aimed at bringing motoring to the masses in India. However, Nano failed for being affordable. It is said that the lower income masses of India for whom the Nano car was built did not want the stigma of owning the cheapest car in the world.
Individuals are also perceived at home, workplace etc. by people with whom they interact or live or collaborate. Relationships survive if perceptions are set and managed well from the start. However, relationships suffer when there is either a wrong perception due to misunderstanding or circumstances or when the good perception is marred by wrong actions that prove or reveal the opposite of what has been perceived originally. Typically, this is what most women or men bring up in certain marriages after few months or years of living together.
What should you aim at?
Focus on doing all that naturally creates a right perception; not crave for perfect perception without being what we ought to be to deserve that perception. Being true and responsive to qualms of conscience has a great role to play in how one manages self-perception and forms perceptions about others. Perceptions are bound to suffer if people are not sincere to appreciate or see value in others.
Value and cherish those perceptions that are created based on some of your actions and thoughts; those you have left behind through impactful interactions.
Building a Genuine Perception about Yourself
Here are some key questions that help us work towards building genuine perceptions about ourselves rather than creating false perceptions.
- Do you live up to the perception your near and dear ones have about you?
- Do you pretend to create perceptions in your favor?
- Why would you need to pretend when you can do or be the perception that you are trying to create?
Do not care about perceptions that misinterpret your confident style as boasting. Just ponder on the vast difference between boasting and confidence. Ensure that you and your actions do not let such perceptions define you.
Empathy requires that you feel or experience this yourself before creating false perceptions about others in your circle for reasons known to you. False perceptions demotivate, create resentment, anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction.
Our peer group can impact our perception positively as well as negatively. It is a great gesture if you could identify and question those instances in which people are trying to create false perceptions about others known to you. Courage and integrity is all that is needed to do this. Do not join the band wagon to create false perceptions about others. It is no great achievement but only amounts to timidity.
People form wrong perceptions about others due to many reasons such as misunderstanding, insecurity, bad motif etc. Have courage to help yourself and to help others battle wrong perceptions while enjoying the healthy perceptions around. Make others feel good through your proper perception about them.
Now that you have heard about my thoughts on perception, I invite you to share your experiences, thoughts, and tips about managing perception.
Help Yourself with these Questions
- Why is it important for you to manage perceptions?
- What would it look like to be perceived differently than what you are?
- How would you feel with genuine perceptions?
- What would be some of your positive gestures to handle perception the right way?