Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many. – Phaedrus
Perceptual biases can distort our thinking. In most cases, we engage in distorted thinking unconsciously. Learning about these distorted thinking patterns can help us effectively intervene and deal with them. This is especially when it comes to interacting with others.
Many barriers can prevent us from perceiving others correctly. While it might be difficult to overcome these barriers, it is possible to do so with a little bit of effort and by raising our awareness of our communication habits. This is where communication checkpoint comes in handy.
An example of a communication checkpoint is a perception check. Perception checking will help you to understand others more accurately and prevent you from jumping to conclusions. Before you respond to someone’s feelings and thoughts, you need to check that you have understood what they are saying.
What is perception checking?
The perception checking process is universal yet simple process. It involves repeating what a speaker said or describing their actions to ensure that you have understood them correctly. This can be done in an instant (Passive perception) with practice. This allows the speaker to clarify something in case they were misunderstood.
○ How do you know when to do a perception check?
There are various situations when you need to do a perception check:
· When there is a confusing situation. A perception check will help to bring clarity to the situation. You check your perceptions by repeating back what the other person said to ensure that we have accurately heard what they are saying.
· When there is anger and emotions are high– Perception checking can help to neutralize the situation and calm things down so that better interpersonal communication can take place.
· When you want to practice healthy communication – Perception checking will help you to improve your active listening skills and validate other people’s thoughts and experiences while also allowing you to share your feelings and thoughts.
○ Emotional intelligence and perception checking
“Perceptions about people can be powerful. They can also be powerfully wrong.” – Craig Dresang.
Emotional intelligence requires that you first understand a person and what they feel before you respond to them. One of the best ways for you to know how someone feels is by doing a perception check.
Process of perception checking can be broken down into three elements:
1. Description – Description of the behavior you observed without judging it or evaluating it.
2. Interpretation – Think of some possible interpretations of the given situation.
3. Clarification – Request clarification of the behavior. This allows the speaker to explain what they mean. It also allows you to empathize with them. Moreover, you will be able to keep the communication process going.
Through the skill of perception checking, you can enhance emotional intelligence, encourage honest conversations and enjoy strong relationships.
○ Critique of perception checking
While perception checking is a great tool and can be used in a variety of contexts and situations, it has various limitations. For instance, it is not effective when the people who are communicating cannot see each other face to face.
For example, when using written communication, nonverbal communication, or any other non-face-to-face communication vehicle. A perception check in such a case might sound more like an accusation hence, have the opposite effect of what you intend.
Moreover, perception checking might seem like you are too blunt for people of different cultures, such as among Asians or Latin Americans.
When you ask a direct question, it might be misinterpreted as an attack by the other person, and they may not respond favorably to you. So it may not work well in an intercultural conversation with people of a different culture.
How to Make Your Everyday Routines More Enjoyable with Perception Checks
Real-life perception check is essential, and learning the art of proper mental interpretation of external stimuli can result in a lot of positive outcomes.
There are things that you can do on a daily basis to improve your perception of the world around you. This allows you to interact with others and your environment more meaningfully.
It can be something as simple as the dress’s color that someone has chosen to wear that day to work. For instance, a black dress could mean someone is in mourning or having a bad day, or it is the latest fashion.
Or, when at work, a colleague walked past you without talking to you. Your first interpretation would be anger thinking she has snubbed you. But it could be that she could be too busy and preoccupied that she hardly noticed you.
When getting home from work in the evening, you find that your son didn’t empty the trash can as you had instructed them to in the morning. You are likely to think that they were being lazy and irresponsible. But maybe they had to do something else in the morning and didn’t have time to finish the task before the school bus arrived.
Some other associated skills of perception-checking that can be adopted daily are giving conscious attention when someone speaks and practicing compassionate listening when someone explains their issues with you.
When you apply the perception check strategy, your conclusions would be far different from your initial reactions.
4 Powerful Changes in Life by Applying Perception Checking
Our communication with others is largely based on how we interpret what they say, their actions, and their behaviors. However, our interpretation can be subject to bias due to our previous experiences, age, heredity, personality, and other things.
This can lead to misunderstandings. That is why it is important to differentiate between the truth and what we understand through a perception check.
1. Breaking Negative Patterns & minimize conflicts
A perception check can help you sort out a situation before it gets out of hand. It minimizes conflict by aligning our interpretations with that of the other person.
During the conflict, you can easily feel as if you are not being heard. This will put you on the defensive and make the situation worse. A perception check will make you feel that your voice is being heard and that your opinion is valued.
One of the major goals of perception checking is to minimize conflict arising from incorrect interpretations of what was said. Through proper discernment, you will be able to take into account the other person’s thoughts and intentions, thus making it possible to see the big picture and interpret their actions correctly.
2. Enhanced Clear Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills
“Your perception may not be my reality.” – Aporva Kala.
You must complete all three stages of the perception checking process in order. When carrying out this process, be sure to separate facts from assumptions. It is also important that you do not assume what the other person feels or says.
Take into consideration the cultural context since things have different meanings based on cultural backgrounds. Your perception must check whenever possible.
Perception checks take into account the big picture. It considers the other person’s thought’s intentions to understand the true meaning behind their words and actions, thus enhancing clear thinking.
3. Effective communication
Everyone experiences and interprets the world differently from others. Therefore, you must clarify your own perceptions and align them with others’ for mutual understanding and good communication.
A perception check makes someone feel at ease since they are being heard and understood correctly. This builds effective communication skills, as people feel safe enough to open up to you. This helps to build interpersonal relationships. Part of perception checking involves reading non-verbal cues as well, such as gestures or facial expressions or non.
Checking our perceptions before jumping in and giving our feedback helps us to know whether we are right or wrong in our assumptions. Or maybe if there is something that we missed in the communication. It gives us an opportunity for better understanding and communication in our relationships.
4. Renewed Motivation to Get Things Done
When we interact with others, sometimes their behavior leads us to draw conclusions, which might be wrong, yet we think they are factual. Most times, when we run with our individual perceptions, they can turn out to be flat wrong.
The benefits of perception checking also include reducing ambiguity and facilitating proper communication.
Doing so will reduce negative thoughts. This can motivate you to get things done. How motivated we are depends on how we feel. We will focus on the positive if we feel understood, supported, and appreciated rather than ignored.
Overview: Art of Perception Checking
We have all been misunderstood at one point or the other. You might think that you are communicating one thing, but it might be understood differently by another person. When this happens, it can lead to conflict or strain our relationships. Perception checking helps to bring about clarity and understanding.
Just like any other important skill, developing your perception-checking skills will take time and practice. Write down the three elements of this skill and strive to do a perception check whenever you can.
Implementing perception checking in your relationships might be hard at times, but you will enjoy the benefits in the long run. Practice perception checking to enhance crucial communication skills in your relationships. You can use this tool in various relationships, such as with family, friends, colleagues, or your spouse or partner.