Disparity of Perception and Reality

I love to watch golf on TV. My kids laugh at me, because when they walk into my room late at night, I am frequently watching replays that I viewed earlier in the day. This, of course, happened this last weekend with the US Open and Bryson DeChambeau’s impressive win.

I just read an article highlighting DeChambeau as the only player in the field who practiced the night before the final day of the tournament to iron out some kinks, taking advantage of the floodlights that were provided. I often compare aspects of golf to communicating – so, maybe with a skewed eye, I read into something he said:

How I’m perceiving reality. It’s very difficult to explain, but essentially, I can feel like I do something, but it can come off totally different, depending on what reality actually is, so I gotta get my perception and my reality [aligned].

The same applies to communications! There’s a way we come across, and there’s a way we ‘think’ we come across. There’s always a gap between perception and reality for everyone, and the best communicators have shortened or decreased that gap. I believe that’s what Bryson did by practicing to win. As Vince Lombardi once said, “only perfect practice makes perfect.” But what does perfect practice look like?

At Decker, we have always used video to show the disparity between perception and reality to business leaders, managers, or salespeople alike, to help build awareness and identify areas of improvement. Now, in this remote world, it’s an amazing thing – you’d think we would all have more awareness because we’re constantly looking at ourselves, along with others, on a Zoom-type call. In our virtual coaching sessions, our Senior Consultants often use Quicktime to record the executives they’re coaching, then playback the video for them to review. It amazes me that the business leader is in complete awe of what they seeing. “That’s not how I came across!” Look back up at the DeChambeau quote, that’s what we ALL need to do in our communications: ‘get my perception and my reality [aligned]’. You may think you are smiling, but in reality, it’s a dour face. You may think you show energy in your voice, but it might sound monotone. You may think you told a great story, but it was whitewashed with no details…

Continue to think about and be more aware of the experience you create on your screen, make it as good as possible – use each of the dozen calls you have a day to practice and decrease that disparity. Communication matters, especially in this challenging environment of not being together in person.

3 thoughts on “Disparity of Perception and Reality
  1. Ben, thank you for the clarity on the difference between self perception and reality. I am a manufacturer’s rep, a single man agency. I do not do as much as i should in the communications with the companies I represent. What you have stated struck a chord within me. There are so many challenges with Covid restrictions on sales calls and work is very slow. I appreciate the way you have presented a key problem for me to work on in my business.

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