I have always been fascinated by the ‘why’ of human behavior. At the heart of the work I do in my practice with my colleague Gary Jordan is Perceptual Style Theory (PST). This comprehensive, well-researched behavioral science theory, is the direct result of our pursuit over the last 30 years to make sense of the everyday differences people experience between themselves and others. Our objective has always been to provide a tool that people can easily use to understand themselves and their natural gifts, while also gaining an appreciation for the value of the differences and gifts of other people.

PST is built on seven key principles. This is the first of a series of articles that will look at each principle in depth. We present them here as a statement of the theory behind our work and as an invitation for comments and discussion.

Principle #1: People Perceive the World Differently

Everyone experiences many different attitudes and approaches towards life, but all too often these differences are seen as the result of a lack of knowledge, bias, or stubbornness. In other words, people often take a stance that they are right about the way they view things and others are wrong. PST offers an alternative to this judgmental stance by stating that the variations are due to biologically based perceptual differences. People literally perceive the world differently, and this differing perception leads to different conclusions about what is important, how things should be done, and what is the “truth” of any situation.

Differences Come Naturally

People tend to assume there is one objective reality that everyone is more or less aware of. Research implies that not only is that untrue, but perception is actually a filter applied to objective reality, resulting in natural differences between people.

Perception derives from sensation. It is the point at which we take the input we have received from our nervous system and assign meaning to it. Perception acts as a filter between the world and our understanding of it. Without interpretation perception cannot occur.

Just a Different Slice of Reality

PST states that each person is limited by their perception to access only a portion of reality, and they build their beliefs, values, and conclusions about the world based on the portion of reality they perceive. From this perspective people who perceive the world differently from you are not wrong, they are just seeing a different slice of reality than you are.

Think about it for a minute – you’ve seen many examples of this in your life. From cop shows on TV where each witness to the same crime sees something different, to sharing memories with someone and wondering why they got it wrong. And then there are the old adages like “seeing is believing” and “perception is reality,” both with the hidden meaning of “how I see it is the right way and you need to adjust.”

There are great examples of the reality of perceptual differences in literature, film and art. Some of our favorites are the book An Instance of the Finger Post by Ian Piers, the film Rashomon directed by Akira Kurosawa, and those fun optical illusion pictures like old woman/young woman shown to the left.

Perceptual Style and Conflict Resolution

What are some examples of perceptual differences you’ve experienced in your life? Given your new understanding of the impact perceptual styles have on our reality, you can use this knowledge to gain a more neutral perspective during your next disagreement. Hopefully you will be able to stretch your understanding of different points of view and improve communication and limit conflict with others.

Author's Bio: 

Lynda-Ross Vega: A partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., Lynda-Ross specializes in helping entrepreneurs and coaches build dynamite teams and
systems that WORK. She is co-creator of a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. Download a free recording of her latest teleclass at http://AttendThisEvent.com/?eventid=11027235. For additional free information on how to succeed as an entrepreneur or coach, create a thriving business and build your bottom line doing more of what you love, visit www.ACIforCoaches.com