Last week at work we had meetings that included our entire staff who are usually spread out across the country. I love these twice a year meetings because it gives me face time with the people I interact with everyday but hardly ever see.
Just like getting a behind the screens look at our customers changed my mind about them, spending time with my out-of-town colleagues changed my perspective too. I even found that being face to face with my local coworkers changed my perspective.
Last week everyone flew into Michigan from around the country and met up at a nearby Marriott. It was a really great week of hanging out, learning, Q&A, team building, eating, chatting, having fun together and catching up.
The theme for the week was Perception.
“Perception is Reality” -Lee Atwater
No matter what you think about the validity of that idea, it’s safe to say that we all have different perceptions of the things around us. Most of the time we’re pretty convinced that our perception is right.
Today, more than maybe ever before, I realize how far from the truth my perceptions can be.
It’s so easy to make a snap judgment about a person based on our limited interactions with them. But do we really know who they are? What makes them tick? What’s important to them? What’s happening in their personal life? Do they act the same way at home as they do at work? Is their online persona an accurate reflection of their true self?
How often do we read someones Facebook status and think that they are dramatic or whiny? Does a tweet ever come across as insensitive or braggy? Have you ever read a person’s blog and thought they lived a totally charmed life?
I’ve decided to start taking a step back to realize that my perception could be totally off.
Maybe someone is going through a really rough phase of life and they don’t mean to be whiny, they just need to put their feelings out there. Maybe someone has experienced a victory and they’re so excited to share it that they don’t realized they’re coming across as braggy. Perhaps a person’s family has weathered a few big blows but it’s just too personal to blog about in real time so they come across as having all together when in fact things are barely holding together.
This is particularly true in the online community. It’s equal parts awesome and dangerous.
When Grace was just a baby and I was seriously struggling as a working mom, I found so much solace in the working mom blogs I read everyday. In my real life I felt like the only one out there who had to juggle the demands of a job with the responsibilities of being a new mother. Turns out there’s a whole support network of working moms online. Reading about their daily routines, struggles and victories was immeasurably encouraging to me in those early months.
I’ve got to admit that the same awesome online community has also lured out the ugly green monster in me from time to time.
You know him…envy.
Most people want to capture and remember the best parts of their days and weeks by immortalizing them on their blogs. They aren’t usually going to take lots of pics of their crying toddler or messy house. It does happen from time to time, but for the most part we want to document the good stuff.
This makes it easy for others to get jealous of seemingly perfect lives.
I know I’ve checked out the charming house, perfect outfit and adorable child of one of my favorite working mom bloggers and thought, “wow, must be nice to have it all together.”
But guess what?
She doesn’t have it all together because none of us do. Not me, not the bloggers that I read or the people that I work with.
I don’t have some profound ending for this post. Just a challenge to myself to remember that my perceptions are not always right.
Food for thought.