P for Perception

P for Perception

By Amanda Clear, a University of Southern California student from the psychology department, Encanto’s Intern

When we are online, we see each other through the letters we type, the pictures we post, and the emojis that we use. We are only using pieces of ourselves when communicating in a digital world. This limits the information we have to develop an understanding, or perception, of people we interact with online. Now, when the majority of our communication is digital, how do we foster or grow relationships with fragments? Perhaps, the way we listen needs to change with the way that we are communicating.

Perception can be defined as having an awareness of your environment and the things that are in it. This can help you develop thoughts or understanding around people, things, and events. Meeting people, making observations, reading, and feelings can all effect your perception. With social media and digital platforms at the forefront of communications, we must consider how we are being perceived and how we are perceiving other people, communications, and organizations.

When we are perceiving others online, we need to remember that we may not have the whole picture of what is taking place. Often people are building a perception that is overly positive. Although there is nothing wrong with that, this should remind us not compare ourselves to what others are doing. A more optimistic approach would be to appreciate or celebrate the upbeat information that others are sharing with you. Help build a positive conversation rather than tear yourself or others down. To expand on this, we should consider reaching out to others through social media and digital encounters more often. Instead of just liking a post, perhaps we could add to conversation by making a comment on the post or asking more about the picture. Additionally, we could send a private message to just say hello and see how a long-time friend or elderly aunt is doing. This may be the piece of contact that they need to still feel human and not alone. It will help you see more of the picture, building your perception, altering your thoughts to be more well-rounded.

Perception can be beneficial to you as well. You are in control of what you say, what pictures you share, and who you are following on social media and as part of your digital footprint. You can showcase work you have done or achievements you have gained. You can share quotes of people that influence you or of books that you have read, or even write articles or blog pieces to articulate your thought on a subject, which can be especially impactful if it is related to your career or passion. You can create a perception of that is positive, yet authentic, to provide more context and conversation to who you are. This can be benefit for your career and job search as well. A strong message in the job place right now is branding yourself, this ultimately starts with the online perception that you build for yourself.  

This is a strategy that companies use successfully in the digital space, especially Certified B Corporations that hold themselves to a higher standard than traditional corporations. They garner consumers and positive accolades for their social and environmental consciousness and public transparency by highlighting the constructive actions their corporation does as result of selling their product. They have a created an optimistic perception for the good of humanity that elevates them in a humble light that consumers prefer. You can do that for yourself as well, hopefully others will do the same, to create a more humane perception online.