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  • Writer's pictureAmii Barnard-Bahn

🔑 Unlocking the Mystery of Perceptions: Why Changing Others' Views Is a Challenge

Hi friends!

Have you ever found yourself on a journey of self-improvement, diligently working to change certain behaviors, only to discover that the people around you seem stuck in their perceptions of who you used to be? It's a common challenge, and one that can be frustrating. Today, let's delve into the intriguing world of perception, understanding why it's often difficult for others to see the incredible changes you're making in your behavior, and explore strategies to bridge this gap.

The Power of Perceptions

Perceptions are like mental snapshots people carry with them, capturing their understanding of who you are based on past experiences, interactions, and even rumors. These perceptions, once established, can be remarkably resistant to change, even when you're consciously putting in the effort to grow and evolve.

Imagine you've been known for a specific trait or behavior in the past, and suddenly, you're making significant strides to transform it. You're doing a fantastic job changing, but those around you might still associate you with your previous self, even if that's no longer accurate. This incongruity between your evolving actions and their established perceptions creates a cognitive dissonance that can be hard for them to reconcile.

The Comfort of Consistency

Human beings have an innate desire for consistency and predictability. It provides a sense of stability and reduces cognitive effort. When someone has known you a certain way for a while, changing their perception of you requires them to adjust their mental framework, disrupting the comfortable consistency they've grown accustomed to.

This challenge isn't a reflection of their lack of support for your growth; rather, it's a testament to the strength of human cognitive habits. People need to rely on mental shortcuts, and when those shortcuts have been reinforcing a particular view of you, altering that view can feel like a heavy cognitive lift.

Confirmation Bias and Change

Confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs, further complicates the situation. If others believe you possess a certain trait, they may unknowingly filter incoming information to reinforce that belief. Your consistent efforts to change your behavior might be overshadowed by instances that align with their established perception, reinforcing their view of you.

Additionally, your changes may not be immediately noticeable. Although it may be your top priority and focus, personal growth often occurs incrementally. The shifts you're making might not create a dramatic contrast in the eyes of others, especially if they're not paying close attention.

This is why in my coaching methodology, my clients regularly share their goals and request periodic feedback from stakeholders. This process requires the people around them to take the time to focus on my client’s behavior, to actively notice, support, and participate in their effort to change. This accelerates the alteration of long-held perceptions, which is a gradual process. Patience and persistence are key.

Bridging the Perception Gap

So, how can you navigate this tangled terrain of perceptions, ensuring that your efforts to change are recognized and acknowledged?

1. Consistency and Patience: Stay consistent in your changed behavior and be patient. Perceptions won't change overnight. Your persistent commitment to growth will eventually create a new narrative.

2. Open Communication: Talk to those whose perceptions you're seeking to shift. Share your journey, your aspirations, and your determination to evolve. Authentic communication can bridge the understanding gap.

3. Seek Feedback: Request constructive feedback from those whose opinions matter to you. This not only shows your commitment to growth but also allows them to actively participate in your transformation.

4. Lead by Example: Demonstrate your growth through actions rather than words alone. Over time, your consistent behavior will be undeniable proof of your commitment to change.

5. Be Mindful of Context: Remember that people's perceptions are often influenced by context. The more they witness your new behavior in various situations, the more likely it is that their perceptions will adapt.

In the end, remember that change, while challenging, is a journey of growth and self-discovery. As you strive to be the best version of yourself, be patient with those who might need time to catch up with your progress. Stay resilient, stay authentic, and keep making those positive strides forward.

Business stuff

I was recently interviewed on two podcasts you may find helpful:

SCCE: How to Get Paid What You're Worth (valuable negotiating tips for any role)

To your success,


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