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Perception = Reality. Reality = Truth?

Over the weekend several of the conversations I had were based on a simple statement ‘were we being told the truth’. Whether it was the government communication and transparency, the Ukraine/ Russia war, whether Trump will run for office again or the cost of living crisis. The overwhelming thought amongst the different groups of friends was that in today’s world it was very difficult to decide if you were being told the truth. How do we find out the truth? Why is the truth so important?

Plato famously characterized truth as something eternally beautiful for which the human soul most yearns.

Well, I’m not to get too deep and meaningful on you but to me, truth develops social bonds. In prehistoric times these bonds were vital to our survival. In our modern world, these relationships help us belong, not feel lonely. They help us connect with ‘our tribe’.

Why is this important within our work?

When it comes to both employees and clients/customers I believe perception, reality, and truth are all important.

Let us take your team. How they perceive the business is vital because this affects everything from their decision making to their behaviour. If they believe your organisation does not care about something (irrelevant of it is true or not) they probably won’t care about it. And if they passionately care about it, they will become challenging to manage or maybe even leave.

How often will someone within the team fill in the blanks if they don’t understand a decision the business has made. They want to understand why and so they try to interpret the information they have. If they don’t have all the information to analyze what they decide on could be the truth or more damaging it could be gossip.

Perception can also affect how you see the people around you. Individual perception of reality is affected by our previous personal experiences. EG If I asked you all to draw a house, I’d get hundreds of different houses, all based on your personal view of what a house looks like. In a work context….If historically, someone at work has left the business after starting their shift late for a month. The next time someone comes into work late for a month you might jump to a conclusion and start to worry they are going to leave the organisation. It might be something completely different.

“Perception is an intellectual, psychological process which is subjective as individuals perceive similar incidents differently.”

Eye close up to represent perception

Customers/clients' perception is their reality and truth. Again, this is vital for building your reputation as a business. This is about managing a customer experience to match their individual expectations. Pay attention to what is important to your customer/ clients and make sure you look after these aspects first. They will tell you what is important to them in every interaction with you, your business. The language they use, the items in the process they focus on, the questions they ask.

Remember these things.

How do we make sure that reality and truth are aligned in our world?

  • Check-in. Check the reality with others – keep asking the team and your customers/clients for their opinions. What’s their world like today? The more people you ask the better view you will get of the world outside your space.

  • Encourage feedback - Have representatives from stakeholder groups on your committees, in your adviser groups, in your beta product testing groups. Ask clients for reviews or even surveys. Encourage them to engage in asking questions.

  • Increase communications – not just talking to people, but also the written and visual stimuli to the various stakeholders. Give as much information as you possibly can. Ask others to present information back to you and others.

  • Get your team critically thinking about business issues? (Definition: Perception is a process by which people regard, analyze, retrieve, and react to any kind of information from the environment. *) Get them working on business solutions, thinking more detailed about the problems the business wants to solve.

  • Have an open book/open door policy. Encourage debate, dialogue, discussion about your industry.

  • Have a diverse team; not just people from a different race, gender, etc but also have people who think differently, who come from different social backgrounds around you.

We can all be influenced by what we read and what we see – remember this goes for your teams and customers/clients as well. What we perceive is a reality to us, but it might not be the truth.

Simple action - just involve them more, be open, and constantly fight to find the truth.



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