How Our Perceptions Become Reality At Work

The saying goes “perception is reality”. Well, it is, as far as humans are concerned. What we perceive is real to us. As a manager, it would be appropriate to see how your team’s perceptions could be enhanced every day.

Try this ‘time-out’ exercise next time you have a team meeting. The five minutes it takes will be well-rewarded:

Have a volunteer stand up in front of the group. Tell her to close

her eyes and think of a person she likes very much. She should try

not to show her feelings to the group. Let her concentrate on this

person for about half a minute. Then tell her to concentrate on a

person she really dislikes. Again, with closed eyes, she should not

show her feelings to the group. Do this again for about 30 seconds.

The other team members should remain silent, just observing any differences.

Now you ask the volunteer questions about the two persons e.g. which

person is taller, which one is older, which one earns more money,

which one does more sports, etc … After each question, the volunteer

should close her eyes and think of one of the two persons and the

other team members have to guess if the answer is “the one I like” or “the one I dislike”. Even if the volunteer tries to keep a “poker face” the

audience will guess right almost 100%.

This exercise shows that our body is always communicating our

thoughts even if we try to avoid it. Our body language gives away how we are feeling and what we are thinking, as it emanates from our subconscious. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to cover over the fact we are nervous, frustrated, angry, in love, overjoyed, etc, simply because these emotions will bubble to the surface and show in our behaviour.

The volunteer in this exercise will show specific micro-signals whenever they are thinking about one particular person, and these can be picked up by the trained eye.

So, get your team to recognise how they can improve their perception skills by reading another’s reactions and body language. The more they practice, the more likely they are to see another person’s reality, i.e. the way they perceive things. And that will naturally improve their communication skills. Bonus, eh?

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 1 November, 2010

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