Changing the Way We Perceive the Obvious

We have a bad habit of making assumptions, both in our personal lives and at work. Assuming that we all look at the world in the same way and share the same perspective can have serious repercussions.What might be obvious to you, might be unnoticed or understood differently by someone else. What consequence does that have on our daily lives?

As a part of this year’s Senior Executive Program for Women, one member of our faculty brought questions like this into focus for the global leaders in attendance.
During her presentation, Amy Herman, President of the Art of Perception, Inc. and author of Visual Intelligence, shows two works of art side-by-side and asks the participants to describe their similarities and differences. The participants note various details about the figures in the images, but then Ms. Herman makes an observation of her own: the fact that one is a painting and the other is a photograph usually goes unmentioned, as was the case in our program.

This seems like a glaring difference, but that is exactly the problem: because everyone perceives it as obvious, no one thinks to bring it up. But what would happen if you were describing the images to someone who could not see them? What would happen if these images represented two options for the future direction of your company? Time and time again poor communication is cited as the top reason for conflicts, or even divorce.

In our fast-paced lives, being clear about the small, simple details might feel like a waste of time. However, taking that time to review your base assumptions together and making sure that you are all on the same page could save you or your company from future disaster. As Amy Herman reminded our participants, nothing is truly obvious.

To learn more about the Senior Executive Program for Women, please visit the program webpage.

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