Perception is one of the foundations of our society. It’s what causes the stock market to reach fantastic heights or, as we have all seen recently, abysmal lows. Financially, professionally, even personally, this is a very important aspect in our lives.

In The Mandt System training we are constantly reminding people to check your perceptions. In other words is what you heard what was said?
I think it is important to remember there are always two sides, nearly every waking moment; people simultaneously play two roles in the game of perception, those who are perceived and those who do the perceiving. Each role is crucial in future growth and success.

Let’s take for example that on your first job, you did not take perception as seriously as you should have. You figured success at work was simply a matter of doing a better job than anyone else. For a while, you may meet these expectations, doing your job fast and efficiently, thinking that you had mastered the art of success on the first attempt. After a while, you stop shaving and in some cases even missed a few showers, thinking that physical appearance no longer mattered as long as you were performing efficiently. This lasted for a good amount of time and then came your performance review. It states you had done very well on the performance side; work was of high quality and had no deficiencies. But the other section was full of negatives; employees complained to their managers your grooming was not acceptable, you were not being respectful of others and didn’t seem to take the job seriously.

You’re devastated by your overall “poor” performance review. It had never occurred to you that this would happen. You knew you worked hard and did a good job, everyone there agreed that your work was better than everyone else’s. You struggle to understand why such excellent and efficient work would lead to such a “poor” review. Logically, it makes no sense to you; you think it should have at least been an “OK” review.

While it was a painful way for you to learn this lesson, we later found it was due to in most part to perception. Ultimately, we learn that perception is an important element of success in any job. In some cases, it can actually supplant real performance. While I do not think that this is the way it should be, this is the way it is. Being successful at any job is not merely whether or not you work hard; it is also reliant on how you look and how you interact with others.

Pay close attention to how you appear and act in front of others. Try to place yourself in their shoes and see how they are likely to perceive you from their perspective. Be conscious of the perception being formed of you at all times and never assume that you can avoid being judged by others or be immune to the consequences of any negative opinions.

Above all remember: perception is reality!

Sally Phipps – Mandt Faculty