Perception Processes



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    Perception is the view of the world through our filters. We are attuned to a selective band of frequencies. We can pick up a song playing in the background of a noisy environment whilst unable to understand the conversation of a person sitting beside us. The brain, recognizing the song pattern, will fill in the melody and words turning up our perceptual volume. The brain does not have the necessary information to do so with the conversation.

    The brain often takes the bits and pieces of a conversation and creates a sentence that is meaningful, which the subconscious then believes to be true. This function occurs unconsciously and continues in this pattern unless we interrupt it by checking that part of the brain against another to clarify its integrity.

    Our brain parts work together in a complex fashion powered by our past. As children, we unconsciously adopt the values and attitudes of those around us, coupled with our individual experiences and significant emotional imprints, we create our subconscious blueprint. The brain gathers information from this to form our perceptions.

    It is important to consider other peoples varying perceptions when implementing transformational change. Our expectations are delivered to our subconscious so if we expect people to resist our ideas, our subconscious receives that message and whatever we see as resistance is a meaningful whole and our senses will find it to validate our ‘truth’. We will interpret what we see based on our beliefs and biases. Everyone else is doing the exact same thing, all of us without any conscious awareness creating a complex set of dynamics.

    Areas of the brain are also correlated to different emotions and thinking patterns. All areas of the brain work simultaneously but one area will always be dominant. This will differ in each person at any given time hence everyone interprets the same reality differently, simply representing a symbolic view.

    Leaders must be consciously aware of these different perceptions and honour the process without judgement. Engage people by understanding that these are just processes to evoke trust in others to participate in transformational change.

    Perceptions: Visual

    Perception is the view through our personal filters. There is a large discrepancy between our ideas and a person’s understanding of them. Areas of our brains have different roles that are independent but influenced by the other parts. Some play dominant roles and others can totally eclipse some functions during critical experiences. Our visual cortex interprets sensory data from our eyes into significant form. Our retina has a blind spot in both eyes, which do not carry any visual information but we do not notice the missing gaps.

    Place a spot and a cross on a piece of paper like so:

    Close your right eye and look at the plus sign. Move the page nearer and farther away whilst holding your gaze and your head still. You will notice that the dot ‘disappears’ at some point. This is your blind spot. It appears when you move the page again.

    The corelation between this and leadership is to demonstrate the percepual distortions that our brain produces in its need to create meaning. Perception produces that which we have chosen to believe as reality. The visual cortex preforms “reticular activation” and reproduces similar images. It plays a huge part in human behavior.

    We train our reticular activation system to retrieve a particular whole among the sensory data. It shows up patterns that only appear to be there. You perceive the message as real unless some other part of your brain intercedes with an experiment to confirm the image. For example if you know somebody, you will recognize him if your vision only views a part of him. The data reaching your eye in incomplete, your brain fills in the missing data and identifies the image as the person you know. Your brain could come up with a strategy to confirm this information by sending a message to you to call out to this person. The process can produce correct or incorrect information.

    As leaders it is essential to realize our brains fill in the gaps and that our ‘truths’ are in fact only perceptions.

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