Life isn't about reality. It's about this...

Just last Friday, my boss and I sat down for my annual review. She had great things to say, including the fact that she has seen me "grow immensely" in the last year or two. Mind you, I've been with the company for close to five years.

It isn't as if she went by hard data or any accomplishment lists to arrive at such a conclusion, for I provided none. I don't work any harder than I did a couple of years ago. So why is she so certain that I've demonstrated growth on the job?

I think perception -- the state of becoming aware of something through the senses -- is at play here. What is perceived as real can be more powerful than reality itself. The lenses through which we each see the world are dissimilar.

I may perceive you to be a shy, rude, or arrogant person, but perhaps your neighbor views you as warm and happy-go-lucky.

You may be phoning it at your job or in your relationship, but as long as your boss or partner "thinks" you're putting in effort -- that you're truly invested and not just spinning your wheels -- you can employ the ruse to get by.

Yes, some of us are better at faking it to make it. Perception is the reason so many women swoon over guys who couldn't care less about them. They're under the mistaken impression that the guys have feelings for them, but little do they know they're merely being strung along. All that's needed for the women to fall under the men's spell is for them to perceive that the guys are in fact interested in them.

Perception is quite a powerful tool, when you think about it. It's the primary driving force behind people falling in love, a candidate being chosen over others for a position, and our decision to choose a particular career path.

As we well know, though, perceptions can often turn out to be faulty -- thus the reason divorce is so prevalent, so many employees wind up being poor fits for jobs, and people might switch majors multiple times in college.

Many factors may serve to cloud our judgment and give us a false sense of reality, including:

  • People lying to us
  • People acting on their emotions rather than using rationality to guide them
  • Lack of research
  • Making lazy assumptions
This concept can also extend to the world of marketing and consumer psychology. As long as consumers perceive a product as having value and meeting their need (whatever it may be), companies will continue to rake in the sales. It doesn't matter whether the item is cheaply made or composed of fine fabric; if they perceive it as valuable, they're going to buy it. It's no wonder marketers spent so much money on advertising in order to change or maintain our perceptions of brands. 

Do you agree?

For more insightful posts, please click here: How to Understand People

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