Miriam-Webster defines perception as the way you think about someone or something; the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses. I have had several recent conversation related to perception and having been thinking how that plays into business relationships and context.
The first was how you are perceived by others and whether you need to change some of those perceptions to move forward in life. I was asked to come up with 3-5 perceptions that other people have about me. I used “cold/unfriendly” as one of those perceptions. In actuality, I’m cautious when getting to know people. It takes me a little while to get used to new people and open up. Once you get to know me, you find I’m willing to talk about anything and I will be incredibly loyal. I can see how that can be perceived as cold or unfriendly. Ultimately, I am aware of this perception, but have chosen that caution and loyalty in the beginning works well for me right now.
The second related to how different stakeholders perceived a project status. Some felt that nothing had been done and interest was faltering by the new users. While there had been some issues in the project implementation that caused some delays, the implementation had actually progressed and lots of work was being done to resolve the open issues. While both sides had responsibility for the project state, the perception of the situations were very different.
Perception comes into play every day, in every personal or professional situation. While you aren’t necessarily going to be able to change every perception, you do need to be conscious about how others are going to perceive a situation. Each one will be tinted by their individuals experiences. Keep in mind that all perceptions are rooted in grains of truth. Use this to guide your responses and actions when there are differences in perceptions.