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How Perception Changes Opinions About You

It’s hard to predict what’s going on when you see people behaving the way they are. It’s easier to jump to conclusions but open-mindedness reduces what could be incorrect conclusions. I learned this valuable lesson one day when I was at work.

People Assume You Are Who You Appear To Be

I was the event coordinator, so I saw how an event is organized behind the scenes. There were a lot of moving parts, so the day before, I was running around and meeting with people responsible for all the pieces, from food catering, to presentation rooms, to signage, and so on.

A day passed in an hour, so I forgot about a meeting with coworkers to help assemble some prizes. As they stuffed envelopes, I stared into space, thinking about how many more tasks I had to do and desperately wanting to keel over and sleep.

The next day I received a complaint that I had taken advantage of my status as coordinator to make coworkers do my job while I sat around and watched them. My supervisor told me an important lesson about perception. My coworkers didn’t know about my hectic day and how I was in zombie mode when they showed up to help. I should have said I had another errand and left the room. The point is, I should have looked busy.

Similarly, I read about a social media manager who used her phone to post and monitor comments on the company’s social media feed. She was accused of being lazy and using her phone on company time. As a solution for transparency, someone suggested getting two phones, each with distinct phone covers so it was easy to see at a glance whether she was on her personal phone or company phone doing company work.

Key Takeaways

It’s easy to jump to conclusions about people when you don’t know the whole story. We’re all busy and we don’t have time to stop and think about what we’re observing.

As observers, it helps to have an open mind and ask ourselves if we really are seeing the whole picture. As the person being observed, especially at work, we should be aware of how our actions can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. It’s all about how we perceive others and how we want others to perceive us.

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