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Perception vs. Intent: Navigating the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Understanding Perception vs. Intent in Communication

In our daily interactions, the gap between perception and intent can be vast and filled with misunderstandings. Every day, we interpret others' actions through the lens of our own experiences and biases, often crafting stories in our minds that may not align with the original intentions. This blog delves into how our perceptions shape the narratives we believe and the importance of seeking clarity through curious questions to bridge the gap between what we perceive and what was intended.


The Complexity of Perception and Intent:

Perception is our interpretation of the world around us, influenced by our personal experiences, beliefs, and emotions. Intent, however, is the motivation or purpose behind someone's actions or words, which can often be obscured by our perceptions. Misalignments between perception and intent can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, highlighting the need for open communication and inquiry.



The Stories We Tell Ourselves:

When faced with a situation, our minds quickly try to make sense of it by filling in gaps with our past experiences and preconceived notions. This process, while natural, can lead us to construct narratives that are not fully informed or accurate. These stories, driven by incomplete perceptions, can affect our emotions and reactions, potentially leading us down a path of misunderstanding and assumption.


The Power of Curiosity and Questions:

One effective way to navigate the often murky waters between perception and intent is through curiosity. By asking questions, we open a dialogue that allows for clarification and a deeper understanding of others' perspectives and intentions. This practice not only helps in dispelling our own misconceptions but also fosters a culture of open communication and trust.


Practical Steps to Align Perception with Intent:


1. Practice Active Listening: Engage fully when others speak, focusing not just on the words but also on non-verbal cues that can provide deeper insight into their intent.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage dialogue that reveals more about others’ thoughts and feelings, helping to clarify their intentions and your perceptions.


3. Reflect Before Reacting: Take a moment to consider whether your initial interpretation of a situation might be influenced by your biases or past experiences.


4. Seek Feedback: Regularly check in with others to see if your understanding aligns with their intentions, adjusting your perceptions accordingly.


The dance between perception and intent requires us to be both mindful and proactive in our approach to communication and interpretation. By recognizing the stories we tell ourselves and actively seeking to understand the true intentions behind actions, we can build stronger, more understanding relationships both personally and professionally.


Think about a recent situation where you may have misinterpreted someone’s intent. How might asking curious questions have changed the outcome? Share your experiences and insights on navigating perception and intent, and let's learn together how to communicate more effectively.


Shannon Hassan- Forward Focus Consulting

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