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Perception v. Reality

“Perception” is defined as a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.” “Reality” is defined as “the world or the state of things as they actually exist - as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them (or perception). Let’s be very clear here. In terms of communications – and frankly, how the world works – perception is more important than reality! Why?

• First and foremost, as it relates to communications, the perception precedes the reality. Generally for someone to experience the reality, they have to have awareness of it and then they have to have a positive sense (i.e. perception) that this is something they should chose to do (e.g. buy a product, visit a city, vote for a candidate, attend a concert). While the awareness is important (an option), the choice comes from their impression (i.e. perception) it is right for them.

• Without a positive perception, the reality may never be experienced (e.g. the candidate get elected, anyone attends the concert, the product is purchased instead of that of one of the competitors). Communications creates that perception. Excellent example. A motion picture can be excellent but if the reviews are bad, the negative perception generated by them will dissuade people from seeing it.

• In short, perception not only precedes reality, it greatly impacts the success or failure of that reality. However, it is important to note that if the reality (e.g. candidate, product, motion picture) is bad, the (positive) perception that led people to experience it will quickly diminish and it will ultimately fail. The perception “leads the horse to water” and motivates it to drink…but the reality, at that point, will succeed or fail on the quality of what it offers.

Without question, the real determinant of success or failure rests with the “reality.” It’s just that the “perception” is ultimately more important because, without it, the reality might never “get up to bat.”

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