There is a well known phrase “Perception is reality.” The meaning behind it is not that hard to grasp… reality is what you see, hear, or otherwise perceive. What’s more difficult to understand is the depths to which that affects everything we do every day.
Every person who witnesses an event sees it differently, because each person has their own perception, their own reality through which the event must be processed. The example that makes illustrates this the most clearly, I think, is when someone says something to another person, who takes it in a completely different manner than it was meant… the words mean something different in the listener’s world than they do in the speaker’s.
Each person basically has their own world, which sometimes interacts with the worlds of those around them. Any time we deal with another person, everything we do goes out from our world and into theirs. That includes words, actions, and even inaction.
All people have some overlap in their worlds, some shared perceptions, but which parts overlap change from person to person, and sometimes from day to day between the same two people. The more you know someone, and the more time you actively spend with them, the more closely your worlds tend to overlap… both worlds start altering to become more like that of the other person.
The amount of overlap of your worlds can also generally be described as your closeness… the more overlap you have, the closer you become, and the more you see things the same, which then reinforces the closeness.
This is true regardless of whether you like the person or not! When you spend more time around someone actively doing something with them, you will become closer to them, and more like them, like it or not.
That makes it incredibly important to be conscious of whom you are around the most. Another saying captures this very well: ”A man is known by the company he keeps.” That’s because the man (or woman) becomes more like the company he keeps.
Want to be closer to your husband or wife? Spend more time actively doing something with them. It doesn’t really matter what. While that sounds ridiculous, it’s true (arguing, however, is not something you do with someone, it’s more something you do to someone). Passive things, however, don’t require your worlds to interact, and don’t bring you closer.
Strangely enough some activities can switch from passive to active (or vice versa), even in the middle of doing them. Watching a movie is the easiest example… it may start out passive, but if both of you “connect” to the movie, it can easily become a shared, active activity. A conversation can do the same, if you capture their interest, or the opposite if you lose their interest.
Want to change something that you don’t like about yourself? Spend less time around people who share the trait, and more around people who have a trait (or traits) that you do want to pick up.
Try looking at the world like this… try to realize that every other person that you meet has their own world. It can really change the way you see things, and make you far more effective at anything involving other people. It can seriously improve your relationships, both personal and work. It can even help you to make your own world better.
Photo from Flickr