Some months ago, we published an article called “The Fallacy of Common Sense”, arguing that there is no such thing as “common sense” and everyone holds a unique perception of the world, a unique “truth”. And this “truth” is heavily influenced by our confirmation bias.
This argument could be a very good explanation why people disagree. Our perception of the world is the mixture of facts and our very own beliefs (i.e. the acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof). In other words, our beliefs are the filters of our perceived reality. Which is a fact for every single individual in the world, including the ones we interact with in our personal or professional lives.
This is exactly where most of us make a serious mistake: We judge one’s behavior based on our own filters. We say “..in his position, I would call her..” or “..I would expect that she would tell him the truth..”, and so on. And because others behave in a different way than us we get mad, disappointed, feel betrayed, etc.
Imagine a scene where your boss invites you to a meeting where she announces that you will no longer lead a specific project and will be replaced by a colleague, who is your worst internal competitor, by the way. When you ask why she replied that she had mentioned this in a previous meeting, but you remember nothing (your boss’s behavior). You think this is a major defeat for your career. You feel your boss does not trust you anymore. Worst thing? She has lied to you about having discudded this in the past. You suspect that your colleague has unethically acted behind the scenes to take this project from you (your perception). You leave the meeting extremely angry warning her that this is something that you will not accept and that you are not done yet with her (your behavior).
Now, try to “replay” the scene from your boss’s ankle. She is new to the team (joined a couple of months before). She strongly believes that responsibility in critical projects should be shared among project leaders and she would like to avoid single points of failure and bottlenecks. She knows nothing about your internal politics and competition with you colleague and she trusts that you both are the leaders she trusts, based on everyone’s reports within the company. She is preparing a major transformation project and she intends to assign it to you (her perception).
If you could understand her perception, would you change your behavior? Understanding other people’s filters is a prerequisite to bridging the communication gap in our personal and professional contexts. Everything starts with the simple realization that each human being behaves according to their own filters. Understanding those filters will have a tremendously positive impact on your communication with others.