Perceptions of perceptions.
Like huh? Well, one can never be 100% sure what others think of you (i.e. me). People basically don’t tell (by words) all of what they think – for umpteen reasons.
So I’ve been asking myself what do others really think of me. I cannot be 100% correct either because I can never truly know what is in the mind of the other. Which then leads to another question, why should it matter what others think of me.
How does one come to know what the other thinks? It’s easy enough if they say something. But because they won’t actually say what’s on their minds I’m left to make inferences based on conduct and non-verbals.
Perhaps I should deal with that question first. I imagine the following reasons are relevant:
- We live in a very complex social world. It is extremely difficult to swim alone against the ‘tide’. We are by nature animals that live in herds and isolation from the herd means less survival advantage. Isolation can come not simply by physical distance from the herd. Psychological distance matters very much more than physical distance. What others think of you is a marker of psychological proximity or distance.
- Psychological proximity – how truly close others are to you – provides a sense of readiness to offer support.
- That readiness of support from others brings a sense of security – largely against all life’s unpredictables and threats.
I’ve avoided reasons that have to do with any form of narcissism; reducing the ‘what others think of me’ to how it might affect ‘me’ in most basic of ways.
Actions and non-verbals speak louder than words. Really – the research proves it. In fact communication experts have known it for years that 70% or so of meaning is transmitted by non-verbal means (body language) as it is commonly called. As the years roll by experience has thought me that my assessment of non-verbals has grown more accurate. How do I know? I’ve reflected carefully on voice patterns, breathing patterns whilst people speak, eye contact, body movements etc.
I also work amongst people who are aware of non-verbals and who may even try to mask what they ‘give away’ – so in a sense I’ve been ‘trained’ to look under the ‘psychological armour’ of those who have a better chance of concealing their innermost thoughts and feelings.
I pay a high degree of attention to detail. My perspective of people in general is that they don’t like paying too much attention to detail. In some circles I hang, people who pay attention to detail are simply labelled as ‘obsessive’ – even though extreme attention to detail is required! In that attention to detail, inconsistencies between what is said, how it is said, and other corroborative details, often leads to a picture that I’m not getting the full picture – or the truth. In one other circle of work my skill in detecting those inconsistencies are used to full potential and I am valued.
Ever had a dream that you went to work naked? It is a very common dream. For those who have had such a dream, recall how awkward it felt. Conversing with me is like being naked psychologically. I will pick up more than you care to allow others to see – and the worse part is that I won’t let on that I’ve seen something of you that you cared to conceal.
For those who do not know of my professional status, they are happily ignorant. It’s like standing next to a guy and you didn’t actually know he had on ‘X-ray specs’ and was actually seeing under your clothes. But what when you discover that he does have on X-ray specs? Ooooh..that’s uncomfortable. And interestingly people in general believe that their minds cannot be read. Well that’s true in the literal sense of those words, however, peoples values, motives, perceptions, honesty/dishonesty, economy with the truth etc can be read. It happens every day – read what’s in the political news some time. Well – I’m cool with close ‘others’ knowing that I’m delusional and that I have no special powers to see ‘under their clothes’ – the better the ‘view’ for me!
So in essence to be near to someone who has on X-ray specs 24/7 is not easy. Everyday life from my perception depends heavily (too) on people not being as honest as they make out.
We don’t expect others to ask questions about each inconsistency or flaw in the logical sequence of our thoughts. But to be next to someone who might spot such flaws is to be ‘naked’ – even if they say nothing of the ‘nakedness’ they see.
But I’m sure my perception of inconsistency and lack of logical sequence is communicated to the other by non-verbal means, that I may not be aware of. The other will not relish that. Trust me, few like or can endure staying for prolonged periods under and X-ray machine or a microscope.
The price of proximity to reality is probably isolation. However, I have no regrets. I value the former far more, than the camaraderie that comes from association with fools.