Perception – Key to Inner Peace

I’ve come to believe our perception at work and life in general carries a great deal of importance.

Many years ago while striving to climb the “corporate ladder to success”, my boss asked me to meet with him privately, in a very serious, foreboding tone of voice.

I immediately scoured my mind for reasons, or any of my actions that may have prompted this out of the ordinary request, fearing something terrible had occurred unknowingly to me, and walked into his office with more than a heightened sense of apprehension.

I admired him as I believed we were similar in our leadership styles and intelligence levels, which had served both of us well in terms of quick track promotions and new assignments.

We had always gotten along well on what I considered a mutual admiration level.  I will admit our egos bordered on arrogance, if not embraced it, which often resulted in less than a compassionate approach in dealing with peers and subordinates.

Perception Lessons from My Boss

My boss started by reminding me of an incident that happened the day before.  I was giving a tour of my department to visiting executives touting our innovations in material handling and repackaging techniques of returned soft goods.

The objective of the efforts was to make these returned items look brand new to our customers when resold.  We worked for a large national retailer’s catalog distribution center.

I knew this was another opportunity for me to strut my stuff and impress important people who would likely have influence on my upward mobility.

During the tour, however, a seemingly minor event happened.  One of the new machines used in heat-sealing the packaging was not working properly, which I thought was a potential land mine to my presentation.

Along with us on the tour was the maintenance associate assigned to maintaining these devices.  I felt angry that he was responsible for sabotaging the tour, either through his incompetence or lack of intelligence in understanding the importance of the event.

Why couldn’t everyone have the same commitment to excellence that I believed I had and ensure everything would go off without a hitch?  I pulled him aside and let him know in a harsh tone how displeased I was.  My boss was the only one who heard this exchange.

That day, in his office, my boss pointed out to me the error of my ways in treating this individual, which of course was wrong.  He then surprised me and told me he was sending me to a weeklong sensitivity-training session out of state.  He had attended this a few years earlier, not surprisingly knowing his personality, and admitted he had had his own incidents which caused him to be sent there.

A Course in Perception

Imagine spending a week in a campus setting, with individuals from around the country who all had similar intelligence, arrogance and powerful egos, useful to organizations in many respects, but detrimental if not under control, forced to work together.

Every minute of our time, from early morning to mid evening, was scheduled with lectures from PHd’s and highly charged group interactive sessions.

By the end of the week most of us had gone through a transformation.  We learned to understand that no matter how we perceive ourselves, and believe how we are perceived by others, it remains utterly false.

We slowly began to grasp in our small group sessions how others really perceive us through face-to-face feedback, which at times was brutally critical.

I noticed the folly in my ways after this week-long retreat. I acknowledged that the fault in the machine could have been a natural malfunction rather than a human error and that the maintenance associate may not be the one to blame.

In short, I realized that my mindset entirely depended on how I perceived my co-workers at work.


Realizing how one is really perceived, and what characteristics of one’s personality caused those negative opinions was certainly a wake-up call for me.

Accepting this as the truth required us to be honest with ourselves, and we were taught that unless you have a revelation of something about you that you don’t like, you can’t change it.

The whole goal of the training was to understand those negative aspects of our being and the subsequent behavior and experience a revelation  about the importance of perception at workplace and make a conscious effort to change.

Before you think you know how you are perceived, you need to have the courage to talk to those you trust, show your honesty and faith in them to be truthful to you.

You may not like what you hear, but if you have a revelation that helps you change to be the person you want to be perceived as, your life will be enriched, and your friendships will have new meaning in their depth and sincerity.

Do you have a personal story or tip that changed your perception toward a colleague?

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Jeffrey Koconis is an artist, author, blogger, cat lover, golfer and supporter of facts. Know more about his ebook The Trip on Amazon here.


  1. Abby Butts on the 13th May

    Last year I went through some leadership training and we did a personality test that matches your personality with a color (blue, green, gold, orange). I know my personality and like you, I thought I knew how I was perceived by others. During the exercise, each personality color had the chance to ask other colors questions. It was eye opening and taught me that not everyone appreciates my strong personality like I had previously thought and that I need to tailor my actions and responses based on how someone else would perceive them. For example, my personality color is green and I am very logical, prefer to deal with facts only, and I dislike talking about my feelings. I work with others who are blue that are more apt to be ruled by their emotions and I have to be aware of that when dealing with them. Knowing the blues have more emotional needs allows me to communicate better and give them what they need, so ultimately my needs are also met.

  2. Jeffrey Koconis on the 14th May

    I too was fortunate to have training that defined personality characteristics on sliding axes of responsiveness and assertiveness. The resulting quadrants identified these main personality types, Drivers, Analytics, Expressives and Amiables. Drivers being low on responsiveness and high on assertiveness while the opposite Amiables being high on responsiveness an low on assertiveness. We are combinations of course but It showed the magnitude of differences between each type and how moving from your “comfort zone” along the responsiveness or assertiveness axis toward other types would ease communication barriers and misunderstandings. Understanding the needs of the different core types is indeed the first step, and being brave enough to venture away from your own will serve you well in successfully interacting with others, in the workplace and your personal life.

  3. Bojan on the 15th May

    I can’t seem to grasp where did you go wrong?

    • Jeffrey Koconis on the 16th May

      Hello Bojan, I should explain that the incident was an example of those in positions of authority thinking they have the right to berate lower level associates in the workplace. This kind of behavior typically fosters a very negative attitude toward the authority figure, who often believes they are, or should be respected just because of the “power” of their position, regardless of how they treat people. This results in a false impression of how they think they are perceived, and unless they change their awareness of how they really are looked at, it can eventually lead to more serious episodes, which may have dire consequences regarding their employment status.

  4. Craig Desmarais on the 17th May

    Great word. Sometimes we really don’t comprehend the damage that we can cause with a few words. We have to be mindful of our tongues and see every conversation as an opportunity to build someone up or tear someone down. Then think about which will get you further in life as well as what is better for that other person. It’s a win-win situation, that will help improve your decision making and give you greater inner peace.

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