Knowing what we are seeing and having the labels/tools to react is the start of mindful perception. Perception is the “timing” of communication, if we can predict what is likely to happen in a situation we are observing we will have the ability to choose a response.
The paradox we face in searching for an understanding of perception is that perceiving is something that we do naturally. We see what is around us and/or hear without expending any particular effort.
The idea that perception is not that complex misleads us. Effortless perception is a small part of what is happening as you perceive. We normally define perception as a way to inform us about our environment and what might be important to our survival in that environment.
This unconscious type of perception helps us react to our environment. So, our perception creates both an experience of the environment and enables us to act within it. Our reactions raise the classic debate — stimulus versus experience.
For our purposes, we will define perception as the ability to observe communication. This is an extension of the previously mentioned “predict” level.* The difference is that with perception we look for different things based on the context of what we are watching.
|One person||“What likely is this person’s values, beliefs, presuppositions and perceptual filters?”|
|Two people interacting||“Who is likely to influence/dominate?”|
|Three or more (group dynamics)||“What is likely to happen next?”|
|Systems/organizations||“What is likely to be produced/reinforced?”|
It is important to note that to increase your effectiveness and influence as a communicator, perception does not just happen.
Understanding what we see, without deletions and distortions—mindful perception is the entrance into the artistic level of communication.
Often the difference between power and influence is not the technique employed but the “timing” of the employment. For most people this level eludes them.
The best way to learn perception is to video tape/film human communication and then study the footage. By watching reality in a distorted fashion (e.g., fast forward and slow motion) insights are gained. Literally, we have to distort “time” to learn “timing.”
If you know which half you are a genius.�