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Understanding how others are perceived improves relationships

According to new research, acknowledging how others are perceived by the world can help promote empathy, even though forming conclusions about another person usually comes with a negative connotation, as we are repeatedly told not to judge. The difference is that understanding how we see others and how they perceive themselves is different from forming a snap judgment without merit.

Brittany Solomon, a research assistant professor of management and organization at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, led the study that proves our perceptions are an important part of how we interact with others.

Solomon, in her study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, discusses how we are in tune not just with our own perceptions of people, but how they are perceived by society or others.

“Understanding others’ subjective realities can enhance empathy, cooperation, and communication and may also influence one’s own opinions. This can prompt people to deliberate and even re-evaluate their own views or enable them to influence others,” said Solomon.

No matter how you perceive someone, you are also aware of how they are perceived by the world and how that person views themselves. This is an important skill to access as it can enhance social and professional relationships.

Solomon discusses a workplace environment in her study, whereby a manager who understands how an employee is perceived by others in the workplace can find the best ways to highlight that employees strengths.  

“If you know that one person is seen in positive or negative ways, you can highlight their attributes that perhaps other group members aren’t aware of. Or, you could avoid potential conflict by not grouping certain individuals together in the first place,” said Solomon.

The study makes sure to point out that everyone’s perceptions, to a point, will be skewed. It’s not about having the correct perception, but rather, having the awareness to factor in how another person is viewed can improve communication and interpersonal relationships.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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