Perception Can Kill Us
“Perception” for the purposes of this article is more about, “what people believe based on what has been said”, instead of the Wikipedia definition. It is about a persons understanding, real or imagined, of what was heard, either completely or partially, by another person.
A harsh title indeed, so how can perception really get to be that bad? Everyday people base what they are going to do, what they have done in the past and even what they will do in the future on what they have been told. And it is within that statement that things can, and do go terribly wrong! In the many years I’ve been Coaching and Training individuals & businesses, there is one thing that I have learned to be absolute and true almost regardless of what has been said; any statement can be and is (every day) interpreted in at least 2 distinctly different thought processes. It is these processes that cause us to act on what has been said, and it is our interpretation that can cause these to have potential negative results!
On a daily basis we make promises based on our loose interpretation of a question or statement. And every day someone else listens to what we’ve said, and bases their direction off those statements. As example, “your widget (whatever product you want) should be ready in a couple days” in most cases could be interpreted as, “it’ll be done in the next 2 days so I can have everything ready by weeks end”. Unfortunately, as we all know, stuff does and will continue to happen, and what should have been done “in a couple days” won’t be ready because your expectations aren’t always clear to others. The end result is that you may never have thought twice about the delay that now is going to hold your end customer up on something that could potentially be traumatic in his world. The best laid plans or intentions sometimes fall behind, and it is here that perception can kill us!
So what can be done to help minimize the effects to everyone within this process? Communication! Yes, a simple word, but one that can be the difference between correct perception, or incorrect perception, and certainly a word that seems by definition to be being used less and less. By simply keeping people informed as to where they are in the process accurately, a lot of potential issues for EVERYONE can be lessened by huge amounts. This is never more true then when the end user has multiple people answering his/her questions, how can the answers be the same………..simply put, they won’t be! In any organization regardless of how large or small, there should be one contact person to answer questions OR a well organized system that allows everyone within the company to know what has been said previously so that only the most accurate answers can be given. Will this completely eliminate mistakes or misguided answers………...probably not, but it sure will help!
To close, understand that everyone’s perception is relative to the knowledge they may last have been given. If the information is incorrect because of a lack of communication the whole process breaks down. Have one person of contact for end users to be able to ask questions and then make sure that person is the one who has communicated with everyone within their team prior to speaking. For it is these missed communications that cause the end user to build a perception of a company or individual as well as their usefulness in the big picture. Perception is the only thing we as individuals use to determine who we do business with, today and in the future. Make sure the perception of you and your business is what you want it to be through clear, concise communication! And make sure your customers perception of you & your company is what you designed it to be!