My last blog included a reference to the number of people from both sides of my family. After reading the blog post, one of my cousins pointed out an aspect that I had excluded – the difference in size of the generations. As I sat with her feedback, I came to see how perceptions vary and became intrigued by how I had used a different definition of family for my Dad’s and Mom’s relatives.
My perception was based on my experience. We visited with my Dad’s cousins and so they felt like part of the family to me. On the other side, I knew none of my Mom’s cousins; there was no connection beyond her large immediate family. I was reminded of the day I saw my maternal great-grandparents’ picture posted on the internet by someone I did not know. It turned out he was a relative from a branch of the family I was unaware of.
Seeing the difference in definition I had created brought to mind the importance of understanding that people receive and perceive experiences differently. Here are a few things to ponder:
- The children in a family have an age range of 18 years. Do the youngest and the oldest have the same perception of their parents?
- Two people go to an amusement park where one loves to go on the rides, and the other is overwhelmed by crowds. Are both going to have a perception that an amusement park is fun?
- Several people are interviewing for a job and one is an introvert, one is an ambivert, and the other an extrovert. Are they going to come across in a similar way to the interviewer and be assessed the same way?
There are many ways we “classify” people and a variety of experiences we have that impact our views of the world. As a society, we have many different types of assessment tools – thinking styles, communication styles, personality preferences, and more. Add to that all the groups that we belong to and whose values we may align with including religion, politics, education, and geography where we grew up. There are also the experiences we have growing up ranging from traumas, illness, addictions, birth order, accolades, whether we had loving or dysfunctional parents, and the list goes on .
All of these create filters through which individuals view the world.
When you see someone who is different than yourself, or experienced something you have not, what is your first response?
- Are you intrigued and curious by what you might learn from them?
- Do you judge them based on how they are different from you?
- Can you relate to the experiences they had, even while you had different ones?
In what ways are your perceptions different than others in your family or your circle of friends? Do you use those differences to learn and expand or to judge? Can you understand how someone might perceive an experience in a way that is dissimilar to how you perceive it?
© 2018 Systems of Change, LLC