That’s a simple truth, isn’t it? How often have you watched a television program or a movie, or been walking down the street and heard someone say something or overheard a particular song lyric and had it speak to you? Perhaps it reminded you of advice that was given to you by someone important in your life.
While I was out and about today, I noticed two men arguing with each other. The first was an employee of that particular establishment and the second appeared to be a customer.
The employee was walking away from the customer as they argued when I overheard the customer say, “I don’t think that’s right. That isn’t the way I understood it…”
The employee followed up by saying, “How is that my problem? That’s you, that’s YOUR perception! Why would you assume that your perception is my responsibility in any way?”
I have to admit that I was missing a HUGE chunk of the story. It was playing out like a bad soap opera in front of my eyes, but without some context as to how this conversation started, all I had to work with was the scene playing out in the moment.
Now with the lack of said context, what I saw was a frustrated customer trying to explain something to an employee who appeared to have decided the conversation was over as he was walking away. Poor customer service, to say the least. But I digress…
My point is, his comment resonated with me. I’ve often heard people say “I can only control the words coming out of my mouth, not your reaction to them.” And there’s a significant truth to this. We walk through life on a daily basis and react to things based on our perceptions. How often has someone cut in front of you while driving? How often has someone made a comment that seemed inappropriate or rude to you, even if that wasn’t the person’s intention? What kind of a reaction did it elicit from you?
Our perceptions are how we interpret the world around us, so it becomes critically important that we be able to do so sensibly. What sounds like something negative to the recipient may have been intended as something positive from the sender.
That’s why we need to communicate better with each other. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, clarify and seek out more information. This can help to eliminate conflict and ensure that you’re getting the intended message. ☯