Friday, May 24, 2019

Insight: It’s subject to interpretation

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Is it going to rain, today?” I asked my husband as I opened the blinds the other morning, noticing dark clouds in the distance. “Actually, the question should be, ‘is the sun going to shine, today?’” my husband responded, poking fun at our frustration with the springtime rains.

Generally speaking, we all are ready to burst into summer season activities with sunshine on our
backs. What I have noticed, however, that while some of us are about to go stir crazy, including yours truly – others haven’t noticed the rainy weather much and have moved through the spring rains unscathed.

What fascinates me is how we all perceive the same experiences in a different manner – and more interestingly, how we jump to the conclusions that our perceptions are universal – only to discover, to our dismay, that they are not.

In a recent conversation about leadership, a friend told me that perception is reality. It was the first time those words had seeped into my ears. In fact, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant and had to look it up later. I discovered that in leadership terms, how you are viewed can influence your effectiveness, credibility and future professional growth and development.

I suspect this carries validity when you are making your way in the working world and you want to be a trusted, reliable member of society.

But what about “perception is reality” in this circumstance: In an article written by Judith Fein for Psychology Today, she shared an experience she had in another country. “….we saw a musician playing an unusual, stringed, traditional instrument on the street. Using sign language, smiles, and a word or two in Thai, we communicated that we were very interested in both the instrument and the musician. With a wide grin, the latter invited my husband, Paul, to play.

Paul picked up the instrument and produced a sound that was more screech than music. We all laughed, and then the open-hearted musician started giving Paul a lesson. There was a patch of grass nearby, and I sat down, watching, listening, fascinated. My legs were tired from having walked about six hours that day, so I stretched my feet out in front of me, in the direction of Paul and his instructor. To my complete shock, our guide arrived and slapped me on the face.

Rather than jump up and slap him back, which is not my style, I stood up and faced him down. Before I had a chance to speak, he admonished me, ‘Never ever point the bottom of your feet at anyone. It is a sign of total disrespect.’”

Although there is validity to the “perception is reality” – no matter where you go, but their may be some validity to Aporva Kala’s quote, “Your perception may not be my reality.”

As for the springtime rains and my experiences of “reality” as a result – perhaps a slight shift will be all it takes to relieve the frustration I feel. If not, I’ll do my best to refrain from slapping myself.

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