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  • Susan J. Leviton


Call it a point of view, a lens, or an attitude, but how you perceive another person’s actions or a situation will determine how you feel and think, which will in turn affect your behavior.

Imagine that a manager promotes one person over another who has been with the company longer. The latter might feel bitter and angry and start looking for another job. Or might feel hurt and disappointed and become depressed. Or start to doubt themself and wonder if their work wasn’t as good as they thought. These are three very different reactions to the same situation.

It is certainly possible that their perceptions are accurate. But it is also possible that they are not, and that the employee is missing important information. This could lead to hasty and detrimental choices. If, however, the employee takes a let’s-check-this-out attitude and talks to the manager, they can make decisions based on reality.

On a personal level, misinterpreting the words or deeds of a partner, friend, or family member can have just as bad, if not worse, consequences. It can lead to bad feelings and the loss of relationships. “Poor communication” is one of the most common reasons couples go for counseling.

In both our business and personal arenas, our life experiences color how we interpret things which may sometimes work against us. If a situation causes intense emotions, it might be wise to run your thoughts by someone you trust before making important decisions.

"It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it."

--Dale Carnegie, "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

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