There’s no escaping it. Perception is present in almost everything we do. Whether we’re buying a product or meeting new people, perception is lurking. But it’s far more complex than how we see and understand the things around us. So let’s take a closer look.
First, what drives this byproduct of judgement?
Perceptions are interpretations that use our senses as well as our concepts and beliefs. And this is exactly what makes them tricky! Shit tends to get complex whenever we blend objectivity and subjectivity. This we can’t change. But we can learn to better control it.
Let’s do some simplifying.
I classify perceptions in three ways: the good, the bad and the ugly. While we strive to be perceived as good, sometimes things go bad. And sometimes they simply start off bad. But that’s okay. Any of these variations can involve a rich blend of tangible and intangible factors. They can also teeter a fine line between one or the other. This makes them vulnerable to change.
So how do we manage them?
There is a wide variety of factors that we can finesse to help shape perception. Imagine a cluster of dials. Each representing factors such as appearance, presentation, design, experience, smell, touch, taste, beliefs, etc. There will be times when we get these dials right from the start. And there will also be times when we get them wrong and have to make adjustments. We need to pay attention to our audience and their expectations. We can then fine tune these factors to increase satisfaction and the resulting perception.
But what about the ugly?
Alas, there is an outlier in my simple classification system. One that we can not control. I call it The Ugly. These perceptions stem from deep rooted concepts or beliefs, or from more basic preferences such as colour or taste. We can not tune our dials to meet all expectations, which is okay. You know the adage “you can’t make everyone happy.”? Well it compliments ugly perceptions quite nicely.
Perhaps there’s a simple lesson to be learned despite the complexity of perception. Don’t try to make everyone happy. We need to be aware of the factors in our control. And we need to know the range at which we can tune them. This will give us our best shot at balancing the good, the bad, and the ugly of perception.