Of Bias and Perception
“We don’t gel together”, I taunted my husband the other day.
“Okay!”, pat came the reply.
“You don’t try to understand me, you don’t realise when am serious and when am not. That’s my pain.” I told him in mock anger.
“I really do and I try hard. Some things are best left unsaid. You need to understand that”, said the husband.
What does it really mean to understand someone? Does it depend on how we communicate with them or does it depend on their perception of our-self? Our actions, words and behaviour are interpreted differently by different people. But how is it that they truly understand what we mean to say? Some people do not have a problem with this. They are the heart of their group and everyone wants to be with them. Whereas others are boycotted and everyone thinks negatively about them. How can people collectively feel the same about someone. Who is it that is perceiving the other in a wrong way?
Can we control how people will perceive us every time we communicate with them? It is only about how we communicate? No, it also depends on our body language, how open and frank we are. It most importantly depends on our past experiences and our attitude. A person with a positive attitude will take things positively and tend to ignore the bad stuff or negative vibes. A pessimist will see things in black and find negative things in others and in every situation. This is the basis for making or breaking relationships.
We also tend to have a cognitive bias. Cognitive bias is the distortion in the way we perceive things and it is almost always negative. While in personal relationships it is the emotional bias that we have against another person. We highlight the negative things in a person and tend to ignore the positive things. This creates a negative image of that person in our mind. Then no matter what the other person does, we see it from negative perspective.
It is not possible to have a blank and open mind every time while talking with others. It is important to identify this problem in the relationship and work towards solving it. It may not always be that the other person is perceiving us wrongly. It may also be because he or she has had bad experiences in the past in the given situation. If these perception and communication problems are not solved or nipped in their bud, then the relationship will get to the level where each is misunderstanding the other and there is no real communication taking place. This leads to ego hassles, broken or no communication and torn relationships.
In such a case it is easier to focus the negative attention on the person rather than on the problem or issue at hand. We are inclined to attach the behavioural attribute of a person to the person himself and start attacking the person. Whereas the behaviour and the person are different. A person has different behaviours. So we should try to detach a wrong behaviour from a person.
We need to see things rationally instead of having a selective perception – our tendency to see only what we want to see and not what is actually out there.
We are happy when people understand us easily with no effort from our side. But what happens when they start doubting and invalidating us? That is the time we start to analyse the relationship and start building a strong base with trust, love and honesty.