Perception – Which Glasses Do You Wear?

Several weeks ago at a party, my husband and I were talking about the wasps which plagued us while we were in our pool. It seemed we could sit by the pool for quite awhile and not have a single one of these visitors. Yet the minute we got into the water, a small group of them would arrive and offer to swim with us.

“They are yellow in color” my husband described, “like a yellow jacket.”

“Yellow?” I questioned, “clearly they are a dark gold.”

“Were you two in the same pool?” joked one of our friends.

Good question, were we?

It wasn’t until a week or so later, that something interesting was discovered. Joining my husband into the pool I took a close look at his sunglasses. They had a bluish tint to them, as opposed to mine which had a brown tint.

Same pool, same wasps, different viewing filter.

It was a pretty easy to understand why his view of the wasps and mine were different because of the tint of our glasses.

What about perceptions in general? How is it, even without the tint of glasses we may see and feel experiences so differently from our spouse, our parents, children or friends?

Psychologists have shown our perceptions can be influenced by our history, our beliefs and certainly our emotional state. Most of us realize a bad day out in the world can slant our perceived interactions to the point where we may be embarrassed or apologetic for behavior not indicative of us. And isn’t amazing how well our days go when approached with an uplifting attitude.

Certainly there are those times in the heat of disagreement when we dig in, refuse to accept any other interpretations for words said, action taken and emotions expressed. These hard-line stands leave someone in the right (usually us!) and someone in the wrong (the other person!), giving no one a graceful way to make peace. When we are cornered we either strike back or cower. And many times when our adversary admits defeat, it may be more of a response of, done talking here, than their agreement to our point.

Perhaps it would be easier if we all accepted we wear different colored glasses. In the end, does anyone really care what color the wasps are, as long as they find another pool to swim in?