Perception is the process by which people judge a situation, place or most importantly, a person. It is amazing how differently people can perceive you to be, dependent on the background of the person doing the judging. Lets not kid ourselves, for we all judge each other based on a comparison between ourselves and what we know of the person. Sometimes, if not most of the time, who we perceive people to be is not correct. This however, does not stop us from holding unto our perception of people. Once that perception is made, it’s hell to change hence the saying, first impressions last.
The Danger in Perception
Our perception of people determines who we can trust and how we treat people. This is not only a bad thing but it shows how flawed our process of deduction can be. Many times during interviews, the right candidates are passed over for jobs as the flawed perception of the candidate by the panel of interviewers come into play. The candidate could have done something as innocent as stutter over a word during the interview and it would be held against him/her, resulting in them not getting the job. Our perceptions are also guided by the stereotypes created by society. Take for example, the perception that all Jamaicans live on the beach, wear dreads and smoke marijuana. That is an image that is fed to people around the world. It is done by the tourist board to get more tourists to come to Jamaica and is widely advertised abroad. So can foreigners be blamed for thinking all Jamaicans are like that? Or even the example of Kingston representing the rest of the country whenever violence breaks out. This is why it is important to be careful of the information that is fed to us on a daily basis.
Perception and Society
Who is responsible for this misinformation that influences our perception though? Most of the information we receive on a daily basis comes from the media, whether it is from TV or the radio and other people, which collectively, is the voice of society. It colours our perception on how to interpret information and can be used as a major influential tool. Fortunately, there are other avenues to collect information but it requires us to be open minded and exercise some amount of critical thinking. With this in mind, not only must we be careful about the information that we take in, we must also be prepared to challenge the information being broadcast and inform ourselves about issues so that we are better prepared to have a better perception on things and come to a better judgement on important matters.
How We Use It
This same principle can be applied to our perception of people. We may hear people intentionally or unintentionally spreading rumours about someone and may end up inadvertently spreading these rumours. This results in other people having a bad perception about that individual, resulting in the individual having a bad reputation. This has far reaching implications for that person as it may affect their chances of benefiting from opportunities, whether scholastic, business or financial or even relationship wise that may become available.
This only highlights the importance of communication and why we need to talk to each other in order to prevent the development of the wrong perception being formed of each other. However, this is all dependent on a willingness to deal with each other fairly and without malice, which ideally is how we should interact with each other but don’t based on our individual biases and self interests. It is also dependent on whether the individual cares about who they are perceived to be and whether they will allow people’s perception to prevent them from living their life in the way that they choose.
Perception and You
At the end of the day however, as long as you know who you are, people’s perception of you shouldn’t matter. Each of us mean different things to different people, so if we were to try and please everybody, we wouldn’t be able to truly be ourselves. As long as you are not infringing on anybody’s liberties or putting anybody out of their way, then people’s perception of you shouldn’t be a problem to you. Your actions and not the opinions of others should be a good enough determiner of who you are. After all, action speak louder than words.