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Objects in mirror may NOT be as big as they appear...

“There are always two sides, make sure you know both of them!”

Perception by definition is the process by which individuals select, organize, and interpret the input from their senses in order to give meaning to the world around them. Simply put, it is the lens by which we view all situations. Perceptions are built through a variety of experiences and beliefs, both personal and professional. Within this paradigm exists both proximal and distal perceptions. Proximal perceptions are those which are closest to us and more readily changed by way of situational dynamics. For example, an argument between yourself and another person can alter your perceptions of everything until the situation resolved. Distal perceptions are those you own based on long-standing beliefs. These may be fundamentally created from extensive personal experiences, or ones you purpose to own on behalf of someone else. For instance, a distal perception may be a belief that a certain type of vehicle is the best based on years of service, or that you do not trust another person, because someone you love does not trust them.

Coincidently, perception is an assuredness afforded to each of us; our perception IS our reality. Those who dispute our perception are considered ‘below equity’, while those congruent with our perception, we considered ‘equitable’. The unfortunate attribute of this, however, is we often subsequently qualify ourselves as being above equitable, in other words, take on the belief that “I am right and those opposing me are wrong”. When perception disparities exist, the normal response is to mitigate the inequality they feel. People do this through channels of gossip, creating tension, making false accusations, and becoming passive-aggressive in behavior and productivity. As frustrations of perception disparities become extensive or unresolved, ‘attitudes’ form.

Attitude can be defined as a negative exacerbation of one's feelings of inequity. When perceptions are not acknowledged and mitigated effectively, attitudes form, and performance will become stalled; subsequently, separation will assuredly materialize. It is essential that a leader recognize attitudes are an individual-level phenomenon. However, when a leader does not effectively identify or clarify a perception disparity, the team member will take it upon themselves to balance that inequality. Some may do this through an “eye for an eye” temperament, measures of retribution, passively through aspects of avoidance, exclusion, or lack of productivity. In the worst of cases, the team member will seek to balance the inequalities by gaining alliances with their teammates. Team members WILL and SHOULD talk with each other, to think otherwise is irresponsible, however, when this happens distal perceptions are created and ultimately there is a systemic attitude within the team. Remember, attitude is still an individual-level phenomenon, so when it becomes systemic, a leader is faced with multiple individual-level issues.

Maintaining an atmosphere of tolerance, awareness, and commitment to balancing perceptions will lend a great deal to mitigating attitudes. While incremental attitudes may develop, systemic attitude is a direct reflection of poor or unaccountable leadership practices. If the attitude of the team is not what it should be, a leader must first consider the behavioral practices they are leading with, tolerating, and avoiding. Perception is reality, a leader must appreciate and teach their team that two different sides can both be right, depending on the side you are looking from…

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