Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

Differing Perceptions Effecting Communication

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How have differing perceptions affected your communication with others? What steps might you take to avoid misunderstandings created by perceptual differences? I believe that differing perceptions between people is the greatest cause of misunderstanding in communication. Our text defines perception as “awareness of the elements of the environment made possible through our senses” (Walker, R. , 2011, pp. 22). The perceptual process is very much like the use of mental models that determine not only how we make sense of the world, but how we take action.

It can significantly influence our overall approach in how we communicate with another person. Although there are many different steps one can take to avoid misunderstandings created by perceptual differences, there are two that I believe have the greatest impact. The first step is through expanding your intrapersonal intelligence. Our text defines intrapersonal intelligence as “the ability to form an accurate model of oneself and to use this model effectively” (Walker, R. , 2011, pp. 26). Intrapersonal intelligence is developed through the process of reflexivity.

Our text defines reflexivity as “reflecting on our thoughts and actions to understand what motivates those thoughts and actions” (Walker, R. , 2011, pp. 26). Slowing down to better understand what is motivating our thoughts and actions allows us to make adjustments in our perceptions prior to communicating. This helps in avoiding perceptual inferences such as negative stereotypes and attribution. The second step is through expanding your interpersonal intelligence. Our text defines interpersonal intelligence as “the ability to understand other people: what motivates them, how they work, and how to work cooperatively with them” (Walker, R. 2011, pp. 26). Utilizing the skill of inquiry will aid in growing your interpersonal intelligence and ultimately reduce the impact the perceptual process may have. The more educated you are about another person’s position the better prepared you will be understand them and communicate with them. The power really comes in combining both of these steps while communicating. I’ve been using the skills of reflection and inquiry since learning about them last semester. I use them successfully at home with my wife and children and on the job with co-workers.

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Although I believe I have developed greater intrapersonal intelligence, I believe the increase in interpersonal intelligence has helped me even more while communicating with these people. In the past I didn’t take the time to understand what their motives and positions were while communicating. Now I make sure I better understand their position, including the perceptions supporting them. This allows me to see the situation from more angles before developing a response. Reference Walker, R. (2011). Strategic Management Communication for Leaders (2nd Edition. ) Mason, Ohio: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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