You are Misperceived By Most People, Unless You Are Attractive, a Woman and Happy

Perceptions are reality and being perceived accurately has a big impact on anyone’s success, self-confidence and overall happiness. That’s not an opinion – it’s based upon proven science.  How you are perceived is not random and you have much more control than you might think. Scientists have discovered that people with certain traits are naturally more likely to be perceived accurately, while others have to work much harder to ensure that others perceive their authentic strengths.


If others don’t accurately perceive your authentic strengths, how authentic are you?  Knowing about the science-based findings behind perceptions will definitely help you to be perceived more accurately and be respected by others as being more authentic.  Authenticity breeds trust and trust breeds successful, fulfilling relationships.

Some people take managing perceptions for granted.  Others are intimidated by the intangible nature of perceptions or feel they have little control over how others perceive them and fall short of making the effort to manage how they are perceived.  The over-confident and the avoiders are both missing opportunities to take advantage of the power of perceptions.  There is a science about perceptions that’s been around for a while, starting in the 18th century. The good news is it’s easy to understand and anyone can put it into practice.  It’s not rocket science; it’s more like common sense with the data to back it up.

For 15 years our certified consultants have been teaching thousands of individuals and working with scores of organizations to be more effective at managing perceptions. In developing many of our workshops we’ve studied a lot of the science behind creating and managing perceptions.  Here’s a “top 10” of the key scientific findings that you can use to become more effective at making sure you are being perceived accurately, i.e., people are perceiving the authentic you.

The “Top 10” of Perceptions

10.  We’re a legend in our minds.  Most people think they are good at clearly communicating the perceptions we want others to know about us.  There have been many studies to prove this point.  As an example, a research study conducted at the University of Manitoba discovered that while 60% of people believe they were clear in communicating their intentions, only 26% of their intended audience believed they could identity those intentions!  Your friends are only 20% – 50% likely to perceive you in the way you perceive yourself.

9.  It will pay off to be perceived accurately.  The more accurate you are perceived the more likely you will be given opportunities where you will more likely be successful.  You are much more likely to have a large group of fun, rewarding personal relationships that will increase your happiness

8.  Purpose Pays.  Individuals having a greater sense of purpose are much more likely to be perceived in a way that accurately reflects their authentic nature.  In addition, individuals that have a high degree of “self-concept,” they know their personal brand, are much more accurately perceived by others.

7. 🙂 !  Other people are much more likely to have an accurate perception of individuals who are happy, well adjusted, likeable and consistently act like it.

6. Perceivers are lazy.  Everyone has the same ability to accurately perceive others, but not the same motivation to understand another person.  Most people are lazy (technically known as “cognitive misers”) in applying themselves to accurately perceive others.  Said another way, it’s our responsibility to be perceived accurately and it will take some effort to make sure that their perception is our reality.

5.  Perceivers are not fair. Others are most likely to perceive you using stereotypes or hold a perception about you based upon a single incident.  Most people are very unlikely to change their mind even if they know it is a shallow understanding.

4.  Perceivers need a compelling reason to understand the real you. A perceiver will only take the time and effort to gain a deeper, more accurate perception of your real qualities and intentions if they have a strong motivation or are forced to do so by some dramatic circumstance.

3.  Perceivers are stubborn.  If you make a bad impression it will take consistent demonstration of overwhelming evidence to change another person’s perception of you.  Your Mom was right, work hard to make a good first impression and if you don’t you’ve dug yourself a big hole, perceptually speaking.

2.  Women are better at being accurately perceived.  Women generally have a superior ability to express emotions, verbally and through their use of body language and gestures give them an advantage in being perceived more accurately.  Men as a category tend to be more reserved and guarded, which can be a barrier to being perceived accurately.

1.  Attractive people have a leg up. While it may be controversial, outgoing, attractive individuals are more likely to be perceived accurately.  That doesn’t mean those of us with big noses, wrinkles or a few extra pounds around the middle can’t be perceived properly – but it does mean we need to be aware of how those things might impact how we are perceived and we might need to work a little bit harder at being perceived accurately.

George Berkeley, a philosopher and social scientist, in the 18th century started a lot of people thinking about the role of perceptions in human relations when he stated, “to be, is to be perceived.”   Perceptions are indeed reality and anyone can be more effective at creating and managing them in the minds of others.  Frankly for some people being perceived more accurately is easier than for others, but anyone can do it.  For starters decide on your most important authentic qualities.  Learn how to display your authentic qualities in a way that is relevant and apparent to another person.  And don’t underplay the importance of consistency in your behaviors.

Your authentic strengths are an asset, don’t let them be misperceived and underappreciated.

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