Borrowed Perceptions

Borrowed Perceptions

"Hello Team,

I won't be available tomorrow. Here are my updates.."

My team received this in our team group chat from our QA. He had also provided a very detailed list of updates on all the work he had completed and was currently working on. Our Project Manager responded with a heartfelt thank you (we could feel it based on the tone).

A few days later, in a private conversation, our PM told me how that message changed her perception of our QA. She told me that she had believed that our QA was not doing well and needed to improve a lot until she read that message. When I enquired why she had that perception of him, she told me she was led to believe so by another senior teammate (who had left the team by that time) and she simply bought into that perception. In other words, she took on someone else's negative perception of a colleague without questioning it.

We all hold critical opinions on certain people, practices and other things. We form these opinions based on our experiences and values. What I realised after the above conversation is that sometimes we also tend to borrow others' opinions and perceptions without questioning them.

We can practice questioning our beliefs and opinions but questioning borrowed perceptions can become more difficult sometimes because we imbibe them subconsciously and/or unintentionally. This can happen for various reasons but, based on my experience, the two most common ones are because we trust the person that we borrow the opinion from or we hear that particular opinion repeatedly (from the same person or from different people).

There is a famous Tamil proverb

கண்ணால் காண்பதும் காதால் கேட்பதும் பொய்; தீர விசாரிப்பதே மெய்!

Here's my poor attempt at translation

Eyes and ears can deceive; an in-depth investigation reveals the truth

While this may happen for positive opinions as well, I wanted to raise awareness about borrowing critical opinions about people (or other things in general) as it has a lot of impact, especially in the workplace.

Have you borrowed others' opinion? Have you suffered because of someone's borrowed opinions? Lets talk

Cover by David Underland from Pexels

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