Monday, June 28, 2010

Perceptual Reality

Poet John Godfrey Saxe famously tells of six men of Indostan …“To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.”

Those who have read the poem will recall that the first blind man felt the broad side of the animal and proclaimed the elephant “is very like a wall.” The second, feeling the elephant’s tusk cried, “This wonder of an Elephant is very like a spear!” Struggling with the elephants squirming trunk, the third said, “the Elephant is very like a snake!” The fourth man feeling the elephant’s knee said, “’Tis clear enough the Elephant is very like a tree!” The fifth, feeling the ear said, “This marvel of an Elephant is very like a fan!” The sixth man, feeling the tail said, “the Elephant is very like a rope!”

In perceptual reality, each of the men was correct.

Often my job is to not only see all six points of view, but to convince “one blind man” to see the elephant as I wish.

My father, a lawyer by profession and a historian by nature, often would remind me to “focus in the grey” since, as he believed, the world is rarely black and white. The advise he ingrained into my psyche, along with the countless books I have engulfed on the human brain, have taught me that focusing in the grey was really forcing me to understand the delicate dynamic of perception and reality.

Although I will not generally use this blog to tout my company’s unique skill sets, the way we delve deeply into perceptual realities has become a stable quiver in the arrows of our arsenal at STIR-Communications. Not wishing to appear too nerdy, we tell our clients it’s simply segmenting.

“Perception is a dynamic conflict between the attempts of an outer world to impose an actuality on us and our efforts to transform this actuality into a self-centered perspective. Perception is a confrontation between an inward directed vector of external reality compelling awareness and an outward-directed vector of physiological, cultural, and psychological transformation.” An excerpt from The Dynamic Psychological Field by R.J. Rummel. 

We all see everything differently, even if we both can agree on a specific color or taste, we are actually seeing or tasting something different. Knowing this, have you ever considered your co-workers, consumers/clients, friends and family live in their own private perceptual reality? Instead of expecting them to see the elephant as you do, why not try and see what they are seeing?

Who knows … you might finally see enough of the animal to make sense of it all.

All my best,

Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

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