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Is your perception out of focus?

>> 8 September 2010

My husband is driving and I'm sitting next to him.

He drives along a wet, winding, country road and when he gets to a bend, my foot twitches because this is the point when I would have breaked.

He 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 husband probably had a similar meaning, but the danger may not have been as imminent to him.

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 his foot.

I told my husband to drive slower (and we were by no means speeding). I told him 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 sees things (with open ended questions)

  • Get him to explain the why behind it (his culture, his knowledge, his experience)

  • Try for an hour to see things like that person, behave like him, be him.

  • 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.


Sangita 10 September 2010 at 11:34  

Hi Mimi,

At present I wish to say your focus on creativity is perfect. Perceptual differences do help us to learn a lot if we try to dig out the answers to all the questions as you said.

I think it would be a far more better experience for me to check out how my perception differs from others and learn out of it. I would love and enjoy trying what you said.

Nice article!


MindFul MiMi 16 September 2010 at 15:57  

I am glad you like my focus. Knowing what our own perception is (with all its flaws and glory) is already a first step. We all have prejudices, we all have our own two eyes that see things differently. If we accept that, we accept that others have other opinions, not to make us mad, but just because that is their perception, the way their eyes see things. There is no wrong or right about it. It just is. That lessons took a lot of brooding, stress, prejudices and false accusations out of my life :-) I hope it can bring that to you as well.

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