“Change the way you look at things
and the things you look at change”
It’s amazing to think that we are already entering May of this ‘new year’. Where has the time flown? Where are we at with our goals and understanding of current processes? Are we still stuck in old ways? Perhaps a new lens, another set of eyes will move us to that next level.
Understanding perception requires a fine adjustment to the lens of personal self-awareness. For, it is not only our perception that contributes to the formation of reality. The perception process involves both the perceiver and the perceived. Both are interdependent with the complexities of historical background, cultural influences, and current societal implications.
In 1958, Joe Luft and Harry Ingham, two leading psychologists in perception theory, developed a model that they referred to as the ‘Johari Window’ to show aspects of perception. This model (see below) can be used to discover the ways that we think about perception in relation to the self. We may need to open or close a window to remove organizational blind spots.
The way that we apply use of self in work environments contributes to the organizational behavior that we, as individuals, bring to the larger organizational setting. Each individual in an organization carries with them myriad perceptual responses, including influences from collective past experiences in personal, familial, cultural, and professional settings.
Perception often has to do with the cultural norms, roles, and expectations that individuals adopt from the greater society. As individuals, we accept unconsciously certain roles and rules and assume these as our identity and behavior. Many of these are based on distorted perceptions. They appear as distortions because each individual is unique and cannot carry out the perceptions of others. Perceptions arise from our physical sensations of sight, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. No two people experience perceptions the same.
Teamwork is affected by perceptions. The impression that an individual’s presence puts forth contributes to other’s impressions of you. Teamwork that is productive recognizes the diversity among each of its members. In this recognition, the individual differences are built upon as multiple resources to complete the totality of the group. In systems thinking, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” For, it is when a system operates from its most full potential that it is in its highest performance.
Impressions form perceptions. Although, sorry to say, they are often formed with small amounts of information that is very likely to be inaccurate. Forming impressions is a natural and unavoidable cognitive activity. Solomon Asch was one of the most influential researchers in the history of social psychology. His classic work on conformity contributed to the knowledge in the area of impression formation. Asch says that when we look at a person, immediately an impression of the person’s character forms within us. We instantly form a highly complex story. This capacity is a precondition of our social life. Asch tried to establish principles that explained how these impressions of individuals were formed. Asch wanted to find how a person cognitively organizes the various characteristics that are perceived into one prototype of the person. He developed what is called the “warm-cold study”.
This phenomenon became known as the “halo effect”. It derived from the model that Asch put forth, where individual differences are observed. It is necessary in a work environment to attempt to recognize and overcome the stereotypes that are formed from these narrow perspectives. A broadened perspective can increase problem solving abilities, motivation, and team work. It is necessary for a manager to determine if individuals have been selectively perceived in any given situation or event.
As a leadership consultant/coach, I hold a belief that an internal drive to step toward higher human potentiality, as Maslow refers to self-actualization can bring the organization to internal integration. This allows all components to work together successfully in a dynamic synergy. Change becomes a constant for growth. Conflicts hold the potential for continuous improvement and sifting through the misperceptions. Negativity can successfully occur when an individual’ unique traits are recognized and utilized. Problem solving across the line, from point A to point B is no longer a satisfactory resolution. It lacks the permanency of lasting results. This pattern will only repeat itself and maintain homeostasis. It lacks the transformational change that can occur with vertical depth into the below the surface issues.
Let’s take a broader look. Let’s clean the windows and look through a new lens to see things that we may have not ever seen.
For a deeper look into this topic, contact Janet M. Ver Fine Ph.D.
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