Twitter @expertsinwc | @buzzystreet (personal). The past week has been busy both on professional and personal levels. I’ve been involved in some of the final preparations for the Comp Laude® Awards & Gala next week in San Diego, a consulting project with Joe Paduda of Health Strategy Associates — it is always fascinating to participate on projects with Joe and hear his take on the workers’ comp market — and like everyone else out there, I’ve been doing my best to manage life’s constant influx of issues and problems that need solving, especially when you have two kids (daughters) in college.

A convergence of issues over the past week, including the Kavanaugh hearings and the subsequent outpouring on social media, some nuances of event planning, getting to know a new consulting client and some personal issues have caused me to press the pause button several times. Why? I’m pausing to consider what causes people who experience the same series of events to have such different perceptions about what they saw or heard, then proceed to argue vehemently about said differences.

The answer is perception. When you look up the definition of “perception” like many words in the dictionary, there are several variations. The one I’ll use for this discussion I found on Google…”perception: a way of regarding, understanding or interpreting something; a mental impression.” The medical dictionary definition differs a bit… “the conscious mental registration of a sensory stimulus.” There is a correlation, though, in that one mentions “mental impression” and the other mentions “mental registration” which pretty much means the same thing. Simply put, perception is how we as individuals interpret the world around us. This is important to understand because our interpretation, or how we process stimuli, is influenced by our past experiences and beliefs, also known as bias. These beliefs are the impressions or registrations on our brain that lead to our unique interpretation of things. Our personal beliefs and experiences impact the way we see the world, and therefore, our perception of the world.

Back to why I hit the pause button in the first place…I find myself, along with many folks in my social circle, completely stumped by the glaring differences in opinion when things play out on the political stage. The most recent example is what we all witnessed over the past two weeks with the Kavanaugh hearings. We often clamor, while threatening to hurl something at the television, “How can they not see this?!? I mean, these are educated people for goodness sake!” And these exclamations are often followed by long trails of expletives for good measure. Heavy sigh.

The convergence of issues I mentioned earlier caused me to think more deeply about this and similar scenarios. I recently read an article on Psychology Today that does a great job of explaining how and why people see things differently when it comes to politics. Do Conservatives and Liberals Perceive Different Realities? If you too are having difficulties with the current state of politics, it’s a good read. The net take-home is (the author uses a road trip analogy — it’s easy to follow) if we are ever going to get back to successful bi-partisan politics, we need to stop arguing about our destination (where we are going) and focus more on where we are right now (where we are starting from) because we can’t agree on where we are right now. And as the article mentions, it’s hard to find your destination if you don’t really know where you are starting from.

I think we inherently know this to be true. Most everyone with a college education took a psychology class, right? If not, or if you don’t remember anything about your psychology class in college, I recommend Psychology Basics: 8 Facts You Need to Know from VeryWellMind — a content provider on mental health in partnership with Cleveland Clinic.

If you are anything like me and are interested in maintaining good relationships with a broad circle of colleagues and friends, I suggest you spend more time thinking about psychology, perception and why people see things differently. It may not help you fully comprehend, but at least it may help you understand more clearly why we see things differently. Interestingly, the definition of “understand” on Google includes the word perceive…”understand: perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or speaker).”

I’m hoping that a little introspection may help us all become slightly more accepting of the differences we observe in those around us or our inability to get on the same page about any given topic. At the very least I hope it will help keep us from calling our friends names, or attaching other unsavory labels that may lead to unfriending people on Facebook, or deterioration of relationships in other ways. I am eternally hopeful.

While this blog post may appear to have little to do with workers’ compensation, think of “perception” in terms of the workers’ compensation industry and Comp Laude® Awards and Gala — an event with the specific mission to change the narrative of workers’ compensation to a more positive dialogue. Why does the narrative need to be changed? Because perception matters…think about how different experiences within the system can have drastically different outcomes, dependent upon where you are in the system.

I think “perception” is a good platform to tackle many future topics. As always, I am interested in what you have to say…so please share your thoughts, comments and suggestions!

#saturdaysmarts #saturdaythoughts #mindfulness #workerscomp #complaudegala #perceptionmatters