Four women. Road trip. Before heading back, we needed to gas up. The credit card wasn’t working at the gas pump so one friend approached the convenience store to see if the attendant could process the payment. She attempted to open the door. Locked.
But wait. What did she see on the left door on a yellow post-it note? She leaned closer.
What happened next provides the twist in the tale. My friend returned to the car to explain the situation, exasperated. Another friend (me!) took a photo of it. The third pulled out her VISA to pay for the gas, successfully. The four of us debated what led a convenience store clerk to quit via sticky note, leaving the entire gas station without any employees to run it.
How Perception Shapes our Reality
Isn’t it amazing how our perceptions shape our reality? From my point of view, I can’t help wearing my “HR hat” and interpreting what happened through that lens. Another saw it through the safety lens and the third through exploitation/exhaustion. Which viewpoint is right?
Of course, the answer is “we don’t know.” All we can do is interpret the set of circumstances in which we find ourselves through our own reality, which has been formed individually through the events of our lives.
How I interpret reality is different from how you interpret it because of the cumulative effects of our experiences. Can you see how we are not always on the same playing field (or gas station in this case) as a result?
The impact is that we believe our perceptions are “right” based on empirical evidence amassed over a lifetime. The consequence varies from not listening to other viewpoints to staying stuck in our viewpoint to trying to convert others to our way of thinking.
Changing our Perceptions
The challenge becomes, how do I stay true to my convictions while allowing for other perspectives as equally valid? You probably already know the answer to this one:
Yup, it’s simple. Most of us (un)consciously close ourselves off to different points of view. We don’t like conflict, or we believe our opinion is superior to someone else’s due to our [insert appropriate academic/ethnic/gender] background. Sometimes we’re just tired and aren’t ready to hear it.