Perception Hierarchy

So, one of the things I’ve been thinking about recently, particularly with the new kid, is the difference in a relationship between how I perceive my own behaviour, and how someone else perceives the exact same things.

The thing that really comes to mind are moments in my own development when someone I had either thought highly of, or was in a certain position of either power or respect, said something, what kinds of things I’d latch onto.

It was often strange little things. An opinion about a band from someone who I thought was cool could get me to listen to a band I’d never otherwise have even considered. A small compliment at the right time by someone I respected, and I’d do *anything* for them. It’s not the big things, I don’t think – it’s not when someone sits you down and tells you what or how you should think – but it’s that certain people, in certain positions of my own social hierarchy, could tell me to do something and I’d do it.

And now, I wonder how much of that they were even aware of? I mean, it’s strange to me – I still think of myself as a schmoe, and I think that for the most part, people who interact with me for a while realize that, and take what I say with that certain schmoe-ness. But at the same time, if you just met me, I could conceivably sound pretty authoritative about certain subjects, and I know that I express certain opinions pretty strongly – in the kind of way that I think I responded to when I was younger. So I wonder how the kid will respond to me? What weird little offhand comments will have genuine weight, and shape his thinking, and what “meaningful” discussions slide right off.

I dunno. It’ll be weird finding out.

One Response to “Perception Hierarchy”

  1. Perlick Says:

    Nice observation. I am still weirded out that my younger coworkers often look at me as a source of wisdom. I think of myself as a “schmoe”, just making stuff up as I go along, and they’ll latch onto things I say as if they were actually valuable.

    I think the point about the small compliment is really good too. I respond the same way – I ignore formal performance evaluations as crap, but if somebody I respect gives me an offhand compliment, I’ll be floating the rest of the day. There are several management books that say that the way to change somebody’s behavior is to catch them doing something you like and encourage or compliment them on it, and I think that has a lot of validity.

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