What Are the Perceptions Affecting Behavior at Work? Ask These 7 Questions

Work Behaviors dog in the middle of mess in the kitchen. Latin Business Today

Perceptions are interpretations of reality that determine how we feel about life and others and how we respond to it

Most of us do not stop to evaluate or consider every perception we have about ourselves and others; we simply go on autopilot, reacting in ways we are used to because that is what we know. When we create perceptions about others, we experience emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Since these inner experiences influence how we respond to everyday situations, it is worth learning to recognize them so we can self-regulate ourselves before it is too late. 

My work environment offers plenty of opportunities to create perceptions about other people.

I am aware of the perceptions or stories my mind comes up with mainly because I know those stories determine how I respond to them. When my perceptions are negative, my body will show me, so I rely on my body’s signals because I know that emotions are chemicals that affect my brain, organs, and different systems: nervous, digestive, immune, and more. My body is my ally, and I trust it since I practice self-awareness daily.

When I feel tension, palpitations, a sense of tightness or restriction in somebody’s presence, or when somebody makes a comment, I ask myself these seven question: 

  1. What is out of balance? 
  2. What am I “perceiving”? 
  3. What are the mental stories that are playing right now? 
  4. Are these stories worth feeding, or should I re-evaluate them? 
  5. Are prejudices and preconceptions in play? 
  6. Can I put them aside and see this person with new eyes? 
  7. Am I willing to do this work?

We are habitual beings, and if we want to develop the ability to identify and recognize those signals in our bodies and in our minds, we must practice every day. Repetition is the only way to reprogram a habit, tendency, or belief, but practicing and cultivating awareness requires energy, intention, courage, determination, and commitment. It requires an honest desire to live life differently.

Most of us find other ways to deal with the uncomfortable situations we experience in our day-to-day routines, mainly because most of us are still asleep in a dream, in a story, or in a script that somehow still gives us something we value. Another reason why we do not even consider doing this inner work is because we are in a comfortable position, so why bother? 

How do we develop self-awareness?

After years of research and practice, I have concluded that it is essential to count with daily practice, so I designed a tool that I have been practicing for years, and I call it 1 Minute of Self-Reflection. It is designed to create the habit of self-awareness and self-talk with three simple steps: 

Set three daily alarms in your phone for at least 21 consecutive days, and ideally for the rest of your life. You start over if you miss one day during the first 21 days.

  • The first alarm should be before you start your daily activities and chores so that you can prepare your mind to be open, alert, and receptive.
  • Plan your second alarm between noon and three in the afternoon to check-in.
  • The last one should be before bedtime to empty and let go of everything that might be causing you strong emotions. The goal is simply to observe our emotions, feelings, and thoughts. 

Every time the alarm goes off, you should practice the sacred pause, a moment in your day when you give yourself permission to stop, breathe and recognize what is happening within. Then, you take two deep, conscious, slow breaths and close your eyes.  

Once in connection with your breathing, ask yourself: 

  • What emotions are present. Then, mentally scan your body. Why? Because emotions are electrochemical signals that transmit emotional information and affect our physiology, chemistry, genetics, nervous system, immune system, hormones, glands, and everything. We recognize emotions in our bodies. The goal is to recognize and identify our emotions, nothing else. 
  • Then, ask yourself, “What feelings am I experiencing?“, and you acknowledge and name them. Dr. Dan Siegel coined, “Name it to tame it.” For example: I see anger; I see frustration, I see sadness, etc. 
  • Finally, ask yourself, “what thoughts or mental movies is my mind creating?” Identify them, and a few things can happen. You let thoughts go like clouds in the sky; you realize that the story in your mind is not what is happening in your life; you begin to recognize that you are not your thoughts, feelings, or emotions. You are the observer. 

As you practice 1 Minute of Self-Reflection, you gain clarity, perspective, and a sense of presence that allows you to choose how to perceive yourself and others.

Created by Monica Coronel – PhD Candidate, Speaker, Writer, Expert in Emotional Intelligence

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