If you were to ask 2 individuals about their opinions of a mutual friend, you might think you should obtain same, if not similar descriptions of the personality of this same friend. However, is this always the case? Different people may have different interactions with this individual due to various reasons. It could be perception formed when encountering different situations with this person, different way of processing information; or it might even be due to personal baggage one holds which tint perceptions.

What about the self-perception of this individual? If you were to ask your friends for some descriptions of your personality and compared them with your personal assessment, you might find some discrepancies. Now then, how is this impacting our lives? With perceptions, it comes with expectations. If one is unaware of how others think of us, we might not be able to meet the expectations of others. Many a time, it might lead to conflict in relationship or communication breakdown. And if one is on the opposite end of the spectrum of trying to fulfill others’ expectations, one will feel weary and unhappy.

How does this above insight going to help us? The important thing here is what can we do about these discrepancies. Instead of letting the discrepancies of self-perception and perception of others cripple us, a good start is to give ourselves a second chance, ie to re-discover ourselves and how others see us. Learning about ourselves, others and how they see us can be an interesting, fun and rewarding journey if we have a thinking partner with us.

Coaching is a suitable tool to help establish essential mindsets that help us in getting a perception closer to reality. Very often, under the usual circumstances, we would allow our pre-conceived notions to mind read others intentions and predict their behaviour. This prevents ourselves from forming a real perception of individual or situation.  A good start is learning to be truly present with ourselves and others. By stating “truly present” it means not to be drawn into internal dialogue of past or future. It means giving priority to the present now.

Only when we are truly present, we would then be able to pick up more verbal and non-verbal cues of others are trying to reveal to us. Not only that, we will be more aware of our and others’ blind spots, be it blind spot at work or personality blind spots. Through in depth coaching conversation, self-assessment questionnaire and other coaching tools, individual can work on their weaknesses and turn it into their strengths. This would then allow a perception form that is closer to the reality.

In a coaching conversation, client tend to share their opinions and emotions or even to discuss sensitive issues, depending on the level of trust and rapport between the coach and coachee. Since this is a space where confidentiality would be kept. The coach usually plays the role of an observer and would share with the clients the verbal and non-verbal cues picked up in the conversation. It is common for client to get new perspectives of themselves or their situations. Once client is accustomed to this new habit of replacing judgemental mindset with curiosity and being truly present, client would be more open to projecting what they truly feel, think of others and themselves, hence closing up the gaps between self-perception and perception by others.

Are you still wondering coaching might work for you? Come and experience for yourself this amazing journey that leads to profound changes coaching can brings.

Article by Metta Tay Siew Wei, Certified Coach (WABC)