Throughout all of last week, there was a big discussion about Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler. Did he quit? Was he tough enough? Several NFL players, current and former, thought that he wasn’t. And they blitzed him about it on Twitter.
The reason that they said this was all about their perception of the situation. Throughout the week, everyone kept saying that “perception is reality.” That got me to thinking about what that phrase really means in terms of communication.
Communicating an idea and creating buy-in from others is about getting them to envision a scenario in the same way that you do. You are trying to get them to perceive your reality. It is all staging, so to speak. Once they see it the way that you do, then your reality becomes theirs and things can get done. Whether they be a project, a sale, a job, etc. The initial step is creating the reality that people will live in while the action is taking place, and this is all set up by the way we communicate our way of seeing things.
So, when Cutler was out of the game, but wasn’t on crutches and was just sitting there on the sideline, this triggered the NFL players to reference their reality and question what it was they were seeing. They perceived a change in their reality and they attacked. What actually occurred was slow in coming out from the Bears (an issue for another time), and thus there was no authoritative communication on the subject. The vacuum was filled by others with louder voices trying to insert their version of reality on the situation.
This situation is a good case study for communicators because it demonstrates the ability for a small, knowledgable group to overtake the conversation and create a version of reality that may or may not be verifiable.
What do you think? Have you ever been in a situation like this? If so, how did you shift the conversation back to your perception of reality?