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Finding Support for Our Perceptions

It seems that, in some cases, once we are provoked and perceive someone’s motives negatively, it is difficult to disabuse ourselves of such perceptions. We might, then, interpret ongoing interactions through that lens and continue to build a case – attributing bad intent to her or his words and actions on an ongoing basis.

When this happens, our assumptions can taint the relationship to the extent that the other person has little to no chance of redeeming herself or himself. We have, for all intents and purposes, made up our minds and we continue to find support for our initial perceptions.

It is an interesting phenomenon and one that does not serve us well. We are not obligated to like everyone, of course. However, in some cases our perceptions that we grow ourselves can be unnecessarily hurtful to the other person and to ourselves.

If there is someone in your life about whom you have negative perceptions and want to explore the validity of your thinking and feeling about them, this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites your reflections.

What started your negative perception about the other person?

What specifically does she or he do that continues to support your initial perceptions in your ongoing interactions with her or him?

What do you think this person’s motives are for offending you?

What do you know for sure about why she or he acts/interacts that way (those ways)?

What don’t you know about why she or he acts/interacts the way you described?

If the person’s intent is not what you think it is, what are other possibilities?

What doesn’t this person know about your impressions of her or him?

If you told her or him what you are perceiving, what could she or he say that might change your mind?

What would that mean for you and the relationship?

If there’s nothing she or he could say or do to redeem herself or himself, what difference does that make, if any, in your interactions with her or him?

What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?

What insights do you have?

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