Making Judgments: Perception Is All
As human beings, one of the most difficult judgments we have to make is interpreting the huge amount of information we are bombarded with all day long. Most people are lazy about what they perceive and receive, interpreting outside stimuli according to the way they've always interpreted things or the way most others interpret them. But this doesn't lead to making judgments that are sound. Instead, if our work requires us to interpret information objectively, we need to remember the dangers of perception and prejudice. Here's a short but very apposite anecdote to make you think again.
Perception Is All: the Anecdote
A traveller was walking down a road when he met a man from the next town.
"Excuse me," he said. "I am hoping to stay in the next town tonight. Can you tell me what the townspeople are like?"
"Well," said the townsman, "how did you find the people in the last town you visited?"
"Oh, they were an irascible bunch. Kept to themselves. Took me for a fool. Over-charged me for what I got. Gave me very poor service."
"Well, then," said the townsman, "you'll find them pretty much the same here."
Perception Is All: Morals of the Story
• Remember that there is no such thing as objective reality. Everything we see with our senses is interpreted by our perceptions and thoughts.
• Become aware of the things you label without question. Ask yourself how such labelling helps you achieve your goals.
• When making judgments, learn to question what you see and the views of others.
• Accept that others' views are valid for them if not for you. Don't argue over who is right. You both are.
• Beware of making false assumptions about what you see.
• If you have a choice between a negative interpretation of what you see and a positive one, always choose the positive one.
• What you get is always in line with what you expect to get.
• Whenever making judgments, learn to move to a neutral position where you can dispassionately assess the facts.