This is a good one to debate. One of my first mentors provided me with this statement “Perception is reality”. I can still remember saying that to my dad years ago, to his dismay. But it remains something that I believe today.

The definition of reality from The quality or state of being actual or true. That which exists objectively and in fact.

To me, the word ‘objectively’ is the key word. It is hard to argue with certain realities: The sky is blue, water is wet, stone is hard. That being said, beyond the physical elements of the shoe, the rock or water, reality is not concrete.

Take a simple thing like a conversation: I am talking with someone, they say something. My perception is that the statement is offensive. That forms the basis of my reality, the state of ‘actually being true’. Why? Because to me it is true. To me, that statement was offensive.

Now, from the other side – the person did not say it as an offensive thing. The speaker’s statement and reality is that the statement was harmless. To the speaker, the state of ‘being true’, or their reality is that it is not an offensive statement.

If the two people walk away from each other at that point, 2 realities exist. The speaker’s reality that nothing bad was said. The listener’s reality that the statement was rude. But then, what is the actual reality? What is the actual state of truth?

Some would argue that the reality is that it was offensive because the person was offended. Others would argue that because the intent of the statement was not offensive, the reality is that it was not offensive, maybe the speaker was over sensitive that morning.

You know what I think? I think that a single reality does not exist, that two states of truth exist at the moment. That is why they invented the word paradox ( Def’n: An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises. An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises.)

How do we fix this paradox? The two people could come back together, have a chat and bingo! one of them changes their perception of the situation and a single reality is created – which they now share.

But in the end, the point of the statement is not to point out what the actual truth is. The point of the statement is to demonstrate that people’s perceptions dictate their reality – that which they believe to be true. To me, that is a valuable thing to remember in sales, management or life.

I may perceive my actions as the right actions, thus forming the reality in which I live while others who I work with or sell to may perceive my actions in a completely different way, forming their reality and truths. The key is, can you take the leap to see it from their viewpoint, understand their perceptions?  That ability breaks down barriers, changes paradigms and alters the reality in which people operate.

In the end, I think I would change the statement from “perception is reality” to “a person’s perception is their reality”.


  1. Pingback: 5 Communicating | Leading a Sales Transformation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s