While reading the newspaper the other day, I read a story about a young woman driver being fined £100 and receiving points on her licence because a policeman caught her sipping a nice cool drink through a straw while sitting in traffic. The rest of the story is irrelevant and I like many others reading the story no doubt thought "I feel safer on the roads because of this vigilant officer.....not." Time moves on and two days later there is another related story in the same newspaper but low and behold it is a police officer sitting in his police car sipping a similar drink while behind the driving wheel.
Shock horror what an outrage how could he? The slant from the newspaper story not me. Then came the feedback from readers; "typical, no one is above the law but those who serve the law, the driver from the original story should be reimbursed her fine and her points taken off, etc. etc."
Not exactly how I saw it myself because my thoughts were two separate instances with two people doing what the law says they should not be doing. Not two separate people doing the same wrong thing so because one is a police officer they should cancel each other out. Slightly different perceptions of the same story but one that raises the question asked above; "Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right Or Do they?" For the majority responding to the second article that day in the paper it did.
How often do people tend to look for a mitigation to their situation by using the actions of others to cancel theirs out? Personally, I find this way of thinking alarming as it shows a distinct lack of accountability from an individual to accept responsibility for their actions and speaks very clearly and loudly about their perception of what is wrong or right.
Everything we do in life is down to the choices we make and whether we believe them to be right or wrong it makes no difference when there are rules, laws, processes, that state the opposite.
Going back to the original newspaper article, this is how I would like to think this would be dealt with. The driver should not be refunded the fine nor have the points withdrawn because in the eyes of the law she did something wrong. The Police officer should be identified and disciplined for his actions and if warranted fined and have points added to his licence.
If you look at situations impartially and leave emotions aside you'll never need to wonder if two wrongs make a right in any circumstance.
While talking to an HR Manager she commented "perception is reality". I said "my understanding is that an individual's perception is reality" as not everyone perceives everything in the same way. The HR Manager immediately informed me I was incorrect in thinking that and long story short... we agreed to disagree.
What is reality?
: the true situation that exists : the real situation
: something that actually exists or happens : a real event, occurrence, situation, etc.
What is perception?
: the way you think about or understand someone or something
: the ability to understand or notice something easily
: the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses
Communication... how many times have you read that due to a breakdown in communication this or that happened or worse did not happen? How many times have you heard people say " I am an excellent communicator across all levels". Isn't it surprising then that a lot of the times you hear the former it comes from those that openly stated the latter. Does that mean these individuals are confused about their skill level or is it simply their perception of reality is that they are excellent communicators whereas others perceive their communications skills differently?
Personally I believe that reality is perceived differently by all and it is only when you confirm aspects of reality that a true picture is obtained. However, how often do any of us do just that? Looking at the world I would say very few.
The next time you communicate something important to others, take the time to get them to relay back to you what you have discussed and where relevant what the outcomes will be. Why? Because if you walk away with your perception of reality and they walk away with theirs, then the outcome will no doubt not be what anyone expected it to be. Whereas, by taking just a little time to build a shared reality the outcomes will be what both or all of you perceived it would be.
Have a question for Graham? Email him at email@example.com
There's always room for one more on our Therapy couch... so whether you join us daily, weekly or just when you have time to stop by we hope that our therapy chatter allows you to take time out in your busy life, to unplug from your everyday stressors and simply breathe, listen and change!