Perils of incorrect perceptions in our lives

There is hardly any other dangerous thing apart from incorrect perceptions about people, places, opportunities, jobs, marriages and the like. When people do not make attempts to change their perceptions, things go from bad to worse. The scope of such incorrect perceptions and simple ways of correcting them are explained in some detail in this article.


This true incident happened in the year 1986 in Chennai. It was a wedding and the girl's parents were from Mumbai. The girl was born and brought up in Mumbai. The boy had lived in Chennai for most of his life. It so happened that a few ladies on the girl 's side wore the most fashionable Mumbai sarees and sleeveless blouses. The men were dressed in suits and the manner in which they interacted and had a whale of a time during the reception was just not okay with conservative relatives of the boy. The boy's father has seen it all. He was a Senior Marketing Executive with a leading tyre company based in Chennai and his exposure to fashions helped. He made his own relatives quickly keep quiet. Yet, a little loose talk from a couple of ladies over 75 years of age, made the Mumbai people uncomfortable. They voiced their unhappiness. Fortunately, wiser counsel prevailed and thereafter everything went on smooth.

Cut to 2019. I attended a grand wedding on the prestigious OMR road in South Chennai. The marriage hall was so spacious with a good parking facility. Both the boy and the girl were from the media. While the girl was an employee with Hotstar, the boy had a business of his own and all his work was media-related. None out of ten women of all ages were dressed in the best of sleeveless blouses and backless blouses. Not a single comment was seen from anyone. It did seem like a big fashion parade.

Perceptions in the entire city have changed today. Chennai is a cosmopolitan city. It now houses people from all over India. The MNC auto companies and the IT industry have made this possible. In the main, incorrect perceptions in our day-to-day situations often result from a) Inadequate data about any situation b) The incorrect idea about everything around them c) Dogmatic views on any aspect d) Narrow-mindedness in most matters and e) Lack of exposure to things around them.

Inadequate data about any situation

This often happens in people who do not know anything or even totally inadequate information. Those who are new to Chennai, for example, are stumped that it has the most ultra-modern shopping malls and highly educated people. This is totally different from the common perception. For example, a few years ago, I was shocked when someone in Mumbai quizzed me if every South Indian wore only the lungi!! ( a modified version of the dhoti). His perception was based on what he saw in a famous song called "lungi dance" in a famous Hindi movie. The same guy had to change his perception when he was transferred to Chennai ( a banker with the Union Bank of India). This can happen only when the concerned person gets to see the reality that concerns the perceptions that he or she has at any point in time.

The incorrect idea about everything around them

Take this situation. I was then residing in a mansion where the bachelors lived in a nice locality in Chennai. Unfortunately, there was no water in the tap. Some six guys rushed to the caretaker and shouted that the motor should be put on immediately. The former had sent his assistant to bring the motor mechanic. There were no cell phones then. The motor mechanic's landline phone was not working. The person had done his job. He immediately arranged for a tanker that brought the water within ten minutes. He requested us to bring our own buckets and manage for a while before the motor mechanic arrived. The six of us understood the situation and managed the situation. Those who woke up late did not even listen to what one of us had to say. Immediately four of them termed the care-taker "useless". The care-taker pleaded with them to adjust for a short time. He had done what was possible within a short time. Obviously, those who woke up late had the wrong perceptions. They did not even bother to listen to those who knew the reality. The only way in which such incorrect ideas can be removed is to look at the objective reality.

Dogmatic views on any aspect

This is the problem with the two ladies in the aforesaid situation. Their interpretation of the reality ( which is their perception), even in the eighties, was totally different from the reality itself. This happens in many situations. Bankers try their best to avoid being transferred to remote locations. They have a big fear of the unknown. However, this fear is often the result of dogmatic views about any situation, or a group of people or even a city or a village. Unless one gets to experience the actual reality pertaining to any perception, every such dogmatic view will only lead to totally incorrect perceptions.

Dogmatic views are always dangerous. We need to change our views with time. What is relevant at one point in time is totally irrelevant at another. For example, we still feel many who are distinctly uncomfortable with using any search engine like Google. This is not only fear of the so-called advanced technology but also the result of deep-rooted beliefs that give shape to their views in the first place. Hence, we can always enable such people to have the right perceptions only when we are able to convince them that their dogmatic views are the root cause of incorrect perceptions.

Narrow-mindedness in most matters

Majoritarian views are also the result of narrow-mindedness. The inability or the lack of readiness to look at the other man's point of view is the root cause of most wrong perceptions. Those who speak Hindi often think that all other languages are inferior. Similarly, those who know English very well often tend to think that any vernacular medium is not the same as English. Their perceptions of English make them think that even those who do not know the language do not have any chance of success.

This is totally wrong. For example, a tea shop owner who makes good tea and does not venture out of the town in which he is based can always survive with regular customers. He neither needs to know English or Hindi. Even a few words of either language is enough. Or there will always be the sign language to help. The taste of the tea will be the key. Hence, we should be broad-minded to understand any issue and any situation. This is also relevant in matters related to things that are beyond our control. We tend to have totally narrow-minded views of any matter that concerns the political party. We refuse to even acknowledge mistakes based on objective reality. This leads to incorrect perceptions. This should be corrected based on objective reality.

Lack of exposure to things around them

This happened in one college near Coimbatore city some seven years ago. The fresh MBAs who were waiting for placement imagined that in the HR department of the manufacturing organization that gave them the perception to do their internship, they would meet with the most fashionable women secretaries of the bosses. They also imagined that with just five years' experience, they can sit on a Manager's seat.

Since it was I who got them the internship in the first place, I had to tell them the harsh realities. They would be assigned only to the time office management. They cannot talk to workmen at work. They will not be allowed to attend any official meeting. They need to understand all the basics about PF and ESI operations from the unqualified but experienced junior executives in the department. This was the orientation I gave them. Later on, when they landed in the organization in Chennai, and in another unit near Tirunelveli ( a medium-sized town in South Tamil Nadu), they were able to understand the reality quickly and their perceptions were in tune with what they saw.

The aforesaid example is just one example. I often come across such MBA students even now. In fact, it has become worse. Most think that a strike or a lock-out cannot happen in the manufacturing organization. The reality is that the time is even riper for these to happen since the economy is in bad shape. Hence, only constant communication can help in all such cases.


Given the reality that own emotions, beliefs, and feelings contribute so much to incorrect perceptions, getting to root cause of such perceptions can help us in removing such incorrect perceptions and living far better emotionally strong lives. In fact, emotional intelligence is all about such qualities. Certain dimensions have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs.


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