13 May, 2016

Understanding Perceptions

Understanding Perceptions

Photo Credit: Anon

Over the last week I have been lucky enough to have been placed in situations that have broadened my perceptions. Perceptions are amazing things. You can find yourself arguing till you are blue in the face with someone when you are looking at the same thing, but seeing it from a different point of view.

A perception is defined as the interpretation of sensory information in order to understand the environment. So in the first instance, interpretation is required. This interpretation depends on how an individual is viewing the environment.

The second part of perception is the understanding of the environment. This understanding depends on the knowledge and experience of the individual. Given that everyone has different levels of knowledge and different experiences then their understanding of different environments will differ.

It is little wonder then that we have conflict around issues when our knowledge and experience varies vastly around the different environments that make up our community.

Academy Perceptions

At the start of the week I ran a workshop for a peak body that is developing a new athlete development academy. They wanted me to help set the foundations for the development of an academy culture. The development of a culture is an interesting article in itself, but trying to develop a culture when so many people are involved, with different expectations and perceptions is challenging.

The youth involved have a perception of not only what they want out of it all, but also a perception of what they want their parents and the coaches to do or not do.

On the other side, parents who are increasingly trying to develop their teenagers into responsible and independent young adults, become frustrated when they fail to see the gravity of their actions or as with many teenagers their inaction! Their interpretation and understanding of the environment differs to that of their teenagers.

So one of the first exercises we did was to talk, parents and teenagers, about each others expectations, challenges with each other and hear their point of view. Listening is an important part of understanding! Understanding is required in order to develop a deeper lever of interpretation.

A breakdown in communication and the relationship between parents and teenagers is often due to different perceptions on situations. Neither may be right or wrong, but each will lack knowledge in certain instances and therefore make different interpretations.

A failure to understand these different interpretations will result in conflict.
A failure to learn will result in a fixed mindset.

Perceptions of Scale

The second experience that I had this week was a trip to Melbourne for a meeting with CEO’s from around the country with a National Sporting Organisation. Working in the Northern Territory, I often have to remind myself that we are only as big, population wise, as a suburb in Sydney. However this doesn’t make the smaller states or Territories any less important than the bigger States, but just that we bring a different perspective.

Whilst the smaller stakeholder in the relationship might not have the finances, resources or membership numbers to be considered a high priority on a National stage, they still have a valuable perspective that must be considered. It is the smaller stakeholders that often are dealing with issues that can be easily solved. For a low effort investment, a high payoff or reward can be achieved. These sorts of ‘wins’ are often greatly needed and appreciated in business.

This should also be considered within associations and state sporting organisations, where the smaller clubs will have a different perspective to that of the larger clubs. It might not be because they are being difficult or lack an understanding of the environment. Their interpretation of the environment is just different to that of other clubs.

Perceptions of Culture

Next weekend, I will have another experience as I travel to Jakarta to assist in the delivery of a sport development program. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect. I am unsure of what the perceptions of all the participants are. I am unsure of what the perceptions of our Indonesian partners are. But the best thing we can do is talk, understand and learn. Then we will have a better understanding of how everyone is viewing the environment.

I’ll let you know how it all goes!

© 2017 Paul Mead

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