It’s easy to wonder about how differently people perceive the same situation or the same message. What some people hear and perceive as positive some do so as negative. The same happens when some people perceive a situation as intensive and others the same situation as moving to slow. With such a big difference how do you set a process that soothes both parties?
My starting point is that there’s only one fixed rule: The question isn’t about if some people perceive the situation different – but how different the situation is perceived.
But why do people perceive situations so different? What makes the glass both half empty and half full at the same time?
When you get a new phone
You might remember when you got a new smartphone. It’s a mixed feeling of the joy of a new smart phone and a frustration of everything being new and unrecognizable. How do I send a text message? Where are my contact? What about the calendar? And how do I change the e-mail signature?
Everything is in small bites. The fingers need help from the eyes to find their way around and get the wanted actions through. It’s easy to be frustrated because there’s always something that’s unknown and unfamiliar.
Slowly the fingers find out what to do without the eyes having to follow everything. The fingers find the most used apps by themselves and can write a message without looking at the keyboard. The world is slowly, but surely divided into larger and larger bites and a larger image starts to appear from some of the bites. But some are still small.
As time goes by even the smallest bites become large. When a friend or college asks how you change a setting or use an app it’s easy to explain how to. The experience of using the phone is so large and all-covering that even the more complex things are manageable and done on cruise control.
As the experience grows the bites we perceive get larger.
Smaller bites taste more intense
The size of the bites is connected to how intense we experience them. Smaller bites demand more attention and more focus to be handled – and are therefore perceived more intense.
As the bites get larger the feeling of intensity decreases. The more the fingers do without the eyes following the less intensive we experience the bite.
When the intensity is low enough the bites melt together and form a new small bite that’s perceived with large intensity. In this way something new is always experienced as small small bites and other things as larger bites.
Why are my bites smaller than yours?
The challenge when a large set of employees start something new is that they see the world in different sized bites. In the beginning of a new unknown process the size of the bites is dependent of the approach you have going into the process and the experience you have from past experiences of starting something new. That means that there is no common starting point that can define how large or small our bites of the world is.
That’s why some start out behind and some think things are going to slow. If you have bad experiences and are skeptical the world will contain smaller bites. If you have good experiences and a positive attitude the world will contain much larger bites.
The difference in bite size is therefore largest when starting a new process together. As time goes by and everyone get shared experience the difference in bite size will get smaller.
With small steps the bites will be larger
In pedagogy Vygotskys term “Zone of Proximal Development” is used. The term is used to define the area that at the same time is unknown and possible for us to approach with the background of past experiences we have.
If we use bites to define it the Zone of Proximal Development is the bites that are very small, but that are close enough to see and understand. When we start out with them it’s with a feeling of high intensity because we have to stay aware to handle them and get an overview of them. And it’s better when someone who perceive the bites as larger help out.
My best advise is that the help is best given in the form of support in taking small steps. Small bites are more manageable with small steps. Because with small steps we can more easily get an overview of the small bite. And with one step at a time the bite gets larger and larger. You should therefore not be fooled by the small steps: They seam slow and insecure at first, but as time goes by and the steps stay small, the bites grow in size. It’s now not about taking larger steps, but larger bites.