Saturday, 29 December 2007

OPINION, PERCEPTION, JUDGEMENT... MASS MISCOMMUNICATION

PERCEPTION n.

  1. The process, act, or faculty of perceiving.
  2. The effect or product of perceiving.

    1. Insight, intuition, or knowledge gained by perceiving.
    2. The capacity for such insight.

JUDGEMENT n.

  1. The act or process of judging; the formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation.

    1. The mental ability to perceive and distinguish relationships; discernment: Fatigue may affect a pilot's judgment of distances.
    2. The capacity to form an opinion by distinguishing and evaluating: His judgment of fine music is impeccable.
    3. The capacity to assess situations or circumstances and draw sound conclusions; good sense: She showed good judgment in saving her money. See synonyms at reason.
  2. An opinion or estimate formed after consideration or deliberation, especially a formal or authoritative decision: awaited the judgment of the umpire.


OPINION, PERCEPTION, JUDGEMENT... MASS MISCOMMUNICATION

Last week saw a series of events that led to a major debate on perception/judgement between a friend and me. She was of the ‘perception’ (i.e. opinion) that ‘perception’ (i.e. insight gained by perceiving) was somewhat akin to, or even synonymous with, ‘judgement’ (i.e. the formation of opinion after consideration). She was of the opinion that people should not rush to judge each other after a single conversation or two, and I was debating the fact that ‘judgement’ and ‘perception’ are two different matters; just because people perceive others in a certain way does not mean that they are hastily judging or labelling each other.

Now... I am an English teacher. I make a living out of words strung together to create art, poetry, prose. I can debate the definition of words with the best of them. Yet, I also know which battles to take on and which battles to leave alone.

In my heart of hearts, I know that we all perceive those around us in sometime overly simplified ways; it is just the way in which the human mind processes information. When I go to a party, the only way you will stand out in my mind and be remembered is through my perception of you as so-and-so’s eccentric friend in the bohemian Sienna Miller style or the argumentative guy whose head is so far up his behind he cannot see past his nose, let alone my point of view. The next time I see you I may choose to befriend you or keep my distance based on the perceptions my brain has received in the course of our first meeting.

Judgement, however, is a matter of arriving at a decision based on initial perceptions. Judgement is when you take the information filtered through your perception, analyse it, and arrive at a decision, regardless of how flawed your analysis might be. Judgement is passing the verdict that the eccentric friend of so-and-so’s is a head case, based on initial impressions and no more than a few remarks that came out of her mouth, or deciding the argumentative guy is an arrogant tosser who does not deserve another second of your acquaintance, thereby dismissing these two to the black hole of memory’s oblivion.

I pride myself on being a non-judgemental person but I am also aware of the fact that one has to be super-human in order to avoid perceptions of varying degrees. We all perceive our surroundings and fellow humans in our own way, as they pass by the peripheries or venture a minute longer into the spotlight of our perception; that is the only way we, as humans, know how to cope with the world and the daily deluge of sights and sounds that crowd us. I cannot put my hand on my heart and honestly say I do not have any perceptions of people around me, God knows, they have perceptions of me; they have had perceptions of me all my life. CQ the cold one, CQ the quiet one, CQ the aloof one... In fact, their perceptions of me has coloured my judgement of myself so much so that even today, as bubbly as I am in social situations, I still think of myself as aloof and quiet.

Over the last fifteen years of my life, I have made a conscious effort of using the perceptions those people who were honest and courageous enough to share with me, in order to mould myself and develop the way I present myself and hence am perceived. Do I seem arrogant? What can I do to show people I am not? Do I seem too lacking in self-esteem? Is it the way I carry myself or the sound of my voice when I speak? How can I work on myself so that the next time I walk into a room I exude nothing but confidence and strength?

I believe other people’s perceptions help build us whereas their judgements hinder us. I try to keep my distance from judgemental people as I believe as soon as you’ve judged me, you have decided in your mind not to give yourself the chance to get to really know me. As far as I am concerned, if someone is not willing to make the effort and have already pulled the shutters of their mind down, they are not worth the breath I waste in talking or the sleep I lose in thinking about them.

Our friends, true friends, do not judge us – or at least, they are not supposed to. But they are, if they are indeed true friends, supposed to tell us exactly how we are perceived in the outside - and not often friendly - world, so we use those perceptions as building blocks towards self-knowledge and self-development. The first step of that journey, however, is acceptance – not denial, not self-defence - that indeed every word we say, or even the way we say it creates a perception, and there may be some perceptions of ourselves we may not always be 100% comfortable with.

When I open my mouth to speak my mind, I do so with the intention of treating friends the way I’d like to be treated: with honesty and caring. Yet as much as I can debate definitions with the best of them, I know – or I learn along the way – which battles to take on and which ones to leave alone.

27 comments:

Zephi said...

Hmmm..nice read, I did not want it to end..perception!judgement!.Sometimes one might cross from percieving to judging without knowing it since they are almost similar but definitely not the same...
quite frankly, i wish i could have been non-chalant and about peoples judgment and perceptions of me..it really did mess me up..It caused a damage in the very fabric of my self esteem which I am still tryna fix today..oh well you live, leave and learn

Ms. emmotions said...

i must commend your use of english lady, opinion, perception and judgement, hmmmm.

compliments to

UnNaked Soul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UnNaked Soul said...

perception is brought by our initial knowledge of something: real or abstract. While judgment is substantiated or unsubstantiated conclusions derived from internally or externally processed data, and this can be in matter of seconds after perception (depending on the persons experience and interpretation of the experience).

Quite confusing if you ask me, but there is a thin line that separates them...

what do you think of my theory? :-)

Have a GREAT 2008 darling.

Ivanaa said...

Lol SIn!... Interesting read, wexcellent command of words.
You know my views on perception/judgement... It's a tough one. We'e all jumped to foolish, irrational conclusions about certain people based on first meetings. With a job interview it's necessary, the interviewer has to,for obvious reasons, that's why we go prepared so as to make an astounding first impression... with our friends we don't!

When it comes to our friends... there's a place for connecting with our hearts, remembering that people really are a mass of histories... The heart of a friend is huge, they don't pander to you, however they reach out to you in a way that you get it, they defend you when you can't defend yourself and they pick you up, whatever happens you always feel that you can talk to them, it doesn't matter how bad or messed up the situation is!

There is a real thin line between perception and judgement!

'In fact, their perceptions of me has coloured my judgement of myself so much so that even today, as bubbly as I am in social situations, I still think of myself as aloof and quiet'

This is what I hate so much about perception,judgement - the fact that the way someone decides to 'tag' us actually affects the way in which we see ourselves.

Once again excellent read!

fantasy queen said...

happy new year....wish you everything nice and sweet and em.... you know all the goodies you've hoped for yourselve..

i'm goingback to really read before commenting.

fantasy queen said...

i think its hard to have a perception without seeming judgemental, i've been judged buy peoples perception of me, sometimes good, sometimes bad...
as i've grown older and maybe wiser, i've learnt to be non-challant about what peoples opinions/perception/judgement of me is because listening to them only confuses me on my own perception of self, thus a conflict of emotions on my defination of self(wow, this topic is definately a tongue and brain twister)....

i've learnt to keep a lot of my opinions/perceptions about others to self especially in social gatherings where everyone has something to say, because we never really know when we stop voicing an opinion and cross over to been judgemental...

For the love of me said...

Happy new year

UndaCovaSista said...

Interesting read. I think our perceptions tend to be filtered through our already established notions of right or wrong. So whilst a perception might not be overtly judgemental, an element of judgement is involved.
I guess you can't really separate the two.

Happy New Year!!!

rethots said...

Eventually, "opinions are personal and facts are sacred."
Happy New Year

pamelastitch said...

I agree with you. That is where maturity comes in, choosing the battles to fight and the one's to leave behind.

Pug'd-Truth Betold said...

Perception and judgement. thats a great topic. One that i love to discuss along with perception is knowledge. What you perceive, and what you know and how the two differs.
great read!

Ugo Daniels said...

Another nice one. I believe both works in parpassu they both complement each other.

Simply put: your viewpoint (perception) of a person or something forms the core of your judgement, negligence of other matters arising

Happy new year

princesa said...

I think sometimes, perceptions may become judgmental and they may turn out to be wrong still. I have been perceived wrongly myself on some occasions too.
However, i perceive you as a stong, talented woman.

Happy new year.

Vickii said...

This is very well written and something I often think about myself. I've come to the conclusion that the difference between the two (at least for me) is in the intention. Perception is for the lack of a better word, postive. If I express my perceptions of somebody to them, it is either to let them know how great I think they are/ how good they are at something etc or if it's negative, it's because I truly believe hearing it can only help them, and I always say it in a constructive way. Judgement, (which I try not to do but I inevitably do sometimes) is saying or thinking something either to hurt, or with not regards of the fact that it is hurtful.

I don't care about other people's judgements of me ... it's often more about them than it is about me. Perceptions, hmmm, I'm not usually surprised by people's perceptions of me so it never really bothers me.

Nyemoni said...

Happy new year! Just wanted to holler...

Zephi said...

where are u?

:)
happy new year

Anu boy said...

oh well.... ido not know what to say, i need to go think about myself, i mix the two up anyway, cos....... arghhhhhhhhhhhh

anyways, i think when i percieve something... its more like to realise something.. that is like something that has always been there... but to judge... its to make your own decision about something...

omo i no know jo...

happy new year ya all

Zephi said...

arghhh were are you..Do I have to stalk u twice..lol

Onada said...

nice post! i have to take sides with you on this one!

pamelastitch said...

http://www.africanloft.com/holla-to-your-valentine-win-75/

Sasuke said...

what can i say, you are the English teacher so we your students have to accept whatever you say but the two words have obvious different meanings and i see no reason why people should confuse them.

Zephi Fahrenheit said...

i miss ya...come back

C said...

Wow... i had an argument over the difference in opinion and judgement with a friend of mine a few weeks ago as well... he made a judgement about something and kept arguing that it was only his opinion!

often people dont know when they transcend from opinion to judgement... what do you think is the fine line? what separates one from the other?

deepak said...

GOOD ARTICLE NEED MORE STUDY.

Bruce Reid said...

When you perceive something you have already made a judgement. I mean you have made a decision; have you not? Give me a break! Your perception has to go one way or the other.

Cindy Dy said...

I will keep your new article. I really enjoyed reading this post, thanks for sharing.

Sol
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