On Perception
Digital Intercultural Coaching

I sat on the train from Switzerland to France and my stomach gave me a signal. The four border officers who checked passports and went through passenger’s luggage seemed odd. I was on a different continent. In a different setting. I was in a novel. I wondered if I could explain myself in French. But no one wanted to know about my travel habits. I look white. I look the part even though I travel like a bag packer sometimes.

What was going on? I did not want to turn around. Probably this was an uncomfortable situation for the person who was questioned. I assumed it was a refugee or someone who looked like one.

When I go to “Europe” now, there is often a slight anxiety and feeling of worry when I am traveling on public transportation. Switzerland is not part of the European Union even though it is in the middle of Europe. Many people travel through Switzerland to get to Italy for example. In Switzerland, public transportation is clean and effective. Everyone uses it. We don’t really need cars. In other European countries, public transportation is for the underprivileged and the regular commuters.

The grass seems greener in France

Early February I thought that the grass looked greener in France than in Switzerland. In the literal sense. It was an observation. In Switzerland, I felt a few small signs that spring was approaching but in hindsight, this was an illusion created by flower shops around Valentine’s day. Spring was in the air but we were still not there yet. One reason why I could have perceived the grass greener in France was that I did not have WiFi and in Switzerland, I tend to read emails or check my social media on the train. I am usually too busy to see the grass outside. Has that occurred to you lately? And it is such a shame that we run on our robotic mode, are in our head most of our days and do not see the beauty of the nature around us anymore. This morning I sat on lake Zurich, watched the mountains and a Swan family. It was magic. And even though I could go to the lake every day I hardly take the time to actually see.

Perception versus Reality

On another trip to Munich I saw police officers circling a man. I thought that maybe he was a refugee without papers but when I observed the scene a bit longer I noticed that he got up with the help of the policemen. They held him so he could walk properly. Maybe he attempted suicide or maybe he was just dizzy and unwell. What this experience reminded me of was that we tend to make fast judgment calls. We don’t take time to observe. We prepare to run. We are on hyper-alert most of the time. Like / Don’t like / Comment / Don’t comment / Buy / Don’t buy.

This is a sign of the times. And it is a trap. Be mindful when you notice it.

Constructivism and Confirmation Bias

Our perception is influenced by our inner landscape. If you are already alerted and if you are expecting a terrorist around the corner everything your experience will be tainted by this idea. You will suffer from confirmation bias.

When I was out of Zurich I experimented with perception. In Munich, I was nice to everyone I met and people were nice to me. They were supportive and understood my requests and wishes. Or I was under pressure and apologized for being pushy explaining that I was delayed and would get nervous around presenting. I noticed first resistance and I could have been in an egotistical complaint mode but then the receptionist softened when I explained that I tend to get nervous before a talk if I don’t have enough mental space.

Training my observation skills changed my perception over the last 10 years. Being able to communicate my needs and wants (and a fair bit of self-discovery, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation) helped me to stay calm and friendly in formerly stressful situations. I learned those skills and methods during my coaching education and working with many clients over the last years.

Now, I would like to teach you those skills and methods in our RockMe! program and especially in the RockMe! Retreat.

The RockMe! Retreat 2018

The RockMe! Retreat helps to change your inner landscape. I will work with you towards broadening your perspective. I will teach you practices and methods to move out of the reactive mode. This will improve your leadership capability and also your relationships at work and at home.

Sign up here for receiving more insights about the RockMe! Retreat.

 

 



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