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The Confidence Booster 30- By Dr. Ted Msipa

                                 Perception is key to Growth

This Thing Called Perception

Does it not surprise you that two men work for the same organization, earning the same salary and even driving the same kind of car yet they view the organization differently. One is excited and expectant yet the other is frowning and frustrated. The answer lies in their perception. Women are generally bad drivers and men are good drivers. Men are from mars and women are from Venus. Rich people are dangerous ritualists and people who live for too long are usually witches. All these are perceptions.

Defining Perception

Perceptions are our thoughts, attitudes, towards ourselves and to others. We base our behavior on the foundation of our perceptions. So how we perceive a person is how we normally treat them. We silently put stickers and price tags on people and their opinions. Generally speaking, we respect those with positions of power and authority. We hardly spare a thought for those who are our peers and subordinates. We perceive rank authority to simply define us.

Influencers of perception

Our perceptions are built primarily on two premises, the internal factors such as personal values and motto, and external factors such as the environment we live in, the culture and its stereotypes. Our perceptions are built on our choices, the intensity of relevant environmental factors and the repetition of certain relevant events. Status is also a major influence of perceptions. My favourite book states that, the rich man’s riches protect him but the poor man’s poverty destroys him.

Selective Perception

People may sit under one roof and yet hear a different message from one preacher, one lecturer and one communicator. This is primarily because of what we call selective perception. Selective perception is the grace to hear what you want to hear. We usually have the unique ability to hear what validates our ego and personal preferences. Yet at times the truth comes like bitter bile.

Five Key Variables

On a more serious note, our perceptions can be anchored on five key variables, these being intensity, repetition, contrast, motion and status. Intensity will accentuate the stimuli and makes it grow more visible. Repetition makes the stimuli unavoidable; contrast will bold the highlights and hence bring more visibility. Motion will create more presence and hence attention, a moving car is more visible than a parked car. This is true for ladies as well, those who talk a lot are easily visible than the quiet and the moderate ones. Status will give weight to the monied but chokes the pauper. No matter how intelligent the poor man is, nobody is interested in his wisdom, yet people can drink water even at a foolish joke by a rich man.

Implications of bad perceptions

As leaders at the workplace and home, we should learn to deal with perceptions so that we are not misled or mislead others in poor decision making. We need to avoid stereotyping. This is simply basing our judgements on popular impressions such as black men cheat in relationships. We also ought to be on the watch against halo effect leadership. This is where we judge someone as good because they did show us a positive trait. Life is too big to be assessed like that. There is also the case of horn effect which simply assumes that someone is bad because of a previous negative effect in the past. A person is too big to be evaluated on a single decision. Similar to me effect, looks at people coming together based on habits, beliefs and demographics. They begin to treat each other well based on the notion of a same WhatsApp group.  Managers and leaders should manage perceptions as adults not like controlling parents.


Perception is such a key factor in our lives. We deal with it on a daily basis, we influence it or instigate it. We are a part of stereotypes on a daily basis. But the truth of the matter is that perceptions have killed a lot of destinies, many have been disadvantaged and many have gone under the bus. Every situation is different, every person is different. Do not allow first impressions to mislead you. They may only be that, first impressions. Rationality and objectivity should define your decision making. You need self-awareness to make decisions. Get more information and rise above perceptions, self-awareness is key. Learn to treat others with empathy. You live life once, maximise the moment. Christ remains the ultimate leader and once to promote you. Rise to conquer.

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