How To Understand ‘Perception’ To Improve Behaviour & Communication At Work – Part I

Human Resources

We are about to launch into a 4-week series on how to understand ‘perception’ and people’s mentalities to better know how to improve behaviour and communication in the workplace.

 This is important because when we know how to communicate better with ourselves and together as teams, we are more positive, resilient and intentional in how we manage different circumstances. We know how to avoid sabotaging our efforts and performance at work when driving results individually or with our team and how to build trust and rapport with colleagues and team mates by sharing and understanding each others challenges and problems. To build star teams that work cohesively together we need to dissolve systems, improve the processes and clarify the vision responsible for removing silo mentalities - a team of stars working for their own egos. The 4 part series will be broken up into:

 1.    Assumptions

 2.    Maps

 3.    Mental Frames

 4.    Silo Mentalities


We begin this week by taking a ‘shallow dive’ into the concept of ‘assumptions’. Here is a story I once heard:

 Once there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck”, they said sympathetically. “Maybe”, the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing in three wild horses. “How wonderful”, the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe”, replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe”, answered the farmer. The day after military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe”, said the farmer.

 Moral of the story: Avoid being too quick to evaluate a situation. Stay level headed.


Our reality is really just our perceived actuality. We see the world not as it is, but as we are.


 The way we see something will define the way we think about it, which then becomes the source of the way we act. A great quote I heard once was “a problem is only a problem when perceived as a problem”, profound! The more unbiased or objective we can remain in a conversation or in evaluating something or someone, the greater opportunity we have to understand them and see the situation as it is; not right or wrong, good or bad.


 - Someone sent you an offensive email

- You got laid off at your job

- You didn’t hit your targets this month

- You didn’t close the sale

- You got frustrated at your co-workers behaviour

 In today’s age of technology a big challenge can be misinterpretations over the phone, email or SMS. This is because tone and body language isn’t easily communicated when you are not face to face with someone. It’s very easy to misdirect meaning in communication, which can then trigger a negative emotion. Actions like CAPS LOCK, making jokes or sly remarks via technology that provoke your attention quickly can suggest a different outcome to what was truly intended, depending on how we see it.

 Taking action: Try staying objective and not attached. Choose to see a situation in a more empowering way, without denying the facts of what actually happened. Simply ask:

 What else could this mean?

What else could this person be meaning here?

Is this a punishment or a reward?

What’s great about this?

Is this the beginning or the end?

Am I focusing on the problem or my purpose?

How can I communicate my need that’s not being met here?


Benjamin Young

Speaker | Coach | Trainer | at Job Performance Coaching & Training

I help executives, managers & team leaders to influence human behaviour and in essence get more out of individuals and teams in terms of execution and results, sustainably. I help both leaders and employees improve excellence, energy & productivity in the workplace. I do this by teaching three specific skill sets: 1. Dealing with having too much to do 2. Staying cool under pressure 3. Influencing Behaviour -(Presenteeism, Absenteeism, Underperforming staff, Constructive Feedback)