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A Simple, Effective Way to Manage (Mis)Trust and (Mis)Perceptions

Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on

Most people inadvertently invite mistrust by inadvertently creating misperceptions.  Following receipt of 360 feedbacks in literally every leadership workshop, someone will say, “That’s a misperception”, to which he or she gets to hear, “Their perceptions are their truth about you, AND if you were not attending a program, would these ‘misperceptions’ still be floating around out there? The good news is now you know, and you can do something about it, because if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you keep getting what you’ve been getting.” OK, we all know that, but what conceptual framework can one adopt to turn it around “seamlessly”?

First, imagine someone color blind viewing an object with another person who sees it differently. They are both right but disagree. Only through communication can this misperception of one another be identified and corrected. Too often people shy from what they perceive as a confrontation, which is simply the sharing of discrepant views. It need not be an emotional encounter. If we approach the discussion defensively (i.e., believing it is going to get emotional), we more easily create misperceptions – and mistrust.

So how can you create a healthy discussion where it seems evident to you that you are right, and the other person is less than right or wrong? You want to walk away from that interchange without having ruffled feathers. Therefore, you must focus strictly on the task at hand, (the problem) with the goal of what would work best rather than who is right or wrong. It is the need to be right (the definition of ego) that eclipses a win-win situation because the focus is on the other person rather than the problem you are discussing.

Sometimes the most IQ-endowed people upon practicing this perceptual concept have said they learned not only how they had been inadvertently creating mistrust in the past, but they also learned quickly how THEY had been misperceiving the very people who had been misperceiving them! So engage others FIRST in a trusting manner if you want them to engage you in a trusting manner. You will learn a lot faster exactly which of the two had likely been the more responsible party for the earlier shared conflicts.