Perceptions and Opinions : RW Power Series

Perceptions and Opinions

by Rodney White on 07/01/17

The first thing that we must do is to define the differences;

Perception is a 'Noun' that means, "the way we see things" (Our point of view)

Opinion is also a 'Noun 'which means "a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge."

The difference between Perception and Opinion is similar to the old question of what comes first; the chicken or the egg?  Unlike the chicken vs. the egg question, perception vs. opinion has an order as defined in the definitions above.

Our opinions are shaped by our perceptions.   Simply put our judgments are a product of how we see things.  Since each of us is driven by our own senses, our judgments are equally as singular.  It is this singularity that makes communication virtually impossible.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

--George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw’s take is quite interesting because it points to the responsibility on all sides to ensure what is communicated includes what was meant as well as what was understood.

Zig Ziglar often told a story about an older couple who had been married for years.  The parable starts like this:

An old man and old woman have been married for forty years. They love each other in every way. The years have been kind to them and between them; except there was a hidden resentment.

For their entire marriage, the man had always given his wife the heel of every bread loaf. Whether it was a sandwich, garlic bread, or just bread fresh from the oven, she always got the heel.

"Why can't I ever have the soft middle of the bread?" she'd stew. "Why does he always keep the best part for himself?"

After 40 years, one day she couldn't stand it anymore.  As he served her a sandwich made from store-bought bread, there was the heel as the top of her sandwich.

"Why do you always do this?" she cried. "I hate the heel.  I like the soft part!  I've only eaten it all these years to make you happy. Why can't you ever take the heel to show you love me?!"  "I've always given it to you," the man said softly, "because it's my favorite part."

How sad; their perceptions were not the same and each made a judgment and took actions that did not have the intended consequences.  In his perception he assumed she knew the heel was his favorite and therefore had appreciated his gesture for all of those years.  She felt that what he did showed a lack of love for her. 

How many times does something similar happen to all of us during the course of our lives?  How often do we allow our perceptions to drive our opinions and both drive our perspective? 

When we learn this basic tenant of communication, and accept the responsibility that the intended message has been received, communication will improve.  The bottom line is that we must accept the old axiom to "always try and look at the situation from the other person's point of view."  It is when perspectives (views) change that our attitudes and opinions (judgments) also change.

Rod the Storyteller 

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