Posts Tagged ‘perceptions’

Penguins and The Power of Perception

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Sometimes the most important thing to change is how people perceive  something.  We all label things and that label dictates how we respond to them; good or bad, hard or easy, important or trivial.  As a leader, one of the key things to do is to get people to see things the way that you do.  In yesterday’s blog one of Mark Evan’s main challenges was to get the local community to see the Quins as their team, not a bunch of toffs making a noise on their doorsteps.

Last year Hollywood made several very successful films about penguins, Happy Feet & March of the Penguins especially, where much lauded as models of love and especially monogamy.

I came across an incredible story yesterday that challenges this perspective.  Apparently the discoveries of Captain Scott’s expedition a 100 years ago were so shocking they were kept under lock and key and written up in Greek, least commoners were lead astray!  Apparently the behaviour of the Adélie penguins was so appalling, they indulged in not only homosexuality but necrophilia and rape!  Dr Levick, an expedition member wrote a pamphlet describing what he found which was only recently uncovered by Douglas Russell, curator of birds at the Natural History Museum, who said:

 “The pamphlet, declined for publication with the official Scott expedition reports, commented on the frequency of sexual activity, auto-erotic behaviour, and seemingly aberrant behaviour of young unpaired males and females, including necrophilia, sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks and homosexual behaviour,” states the analysis written by Russell and colleagues William Sladen and David Ainley. “His observations were, however, accurate, valid and, with the benefit of hindsight, deserving of publication.”

So two perceptions literally poles apart, one controlled by withholding information and the other with all the power of the Hollywood glitz.  Communication and perception are often the key to Change



  1. The full story in the Guardian

Perception or Reality?

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

I wonder how many corporate hearts have flown into corporate mouths on hearing the phrase “Let me give you some feedback“? Now don’t get me wrong, as an advocate of Change I am a big fan of feedback. I believe it is not only valuable but essential. The Universe is giving it to us all the time, but sometimes we can speed-up our learning process with some well focused, clearly expressed, positively intentioned feedback.

Feedback comes in two flavours, both positive and negative. I don’t recollect ever hearing the above phrase mentioned in the context of positive feedback. I don’t know why, no one seems to be busting a gut to tell you all the wonderful things you have done. So that phrase, inevitably seems to mean trouble.

Now there is nothing intrinsically wrong with one person telling another why they have a problem with something you have said or done. The trouble comes from them assuming that because they are not you, they are somehow independent, unbiased, and also perfectly informed! Clearly this is not the case. However, it is still possible to gain some useful information if the ‘feedback’ is delivered as just that, information. However, once again, it is usually handed out as a judgement; and a judgement from ‘on high’ as well!

Let’s take a look at two scenarios:-

Scenario 1: A & B both go the cinema, and it turns out that they saw the same film. They are sitting in different parts of the cinema, and therefore see and hear the performance slightly differently. They compare notes afterwards and discover they have seen different things, read in different messages and now have different feelings about the film. These are in part due to the slightly different perceptions and partly to their differing tastes, upbringings, educations and natures. They discuss it and now both have an enhanced view of what the film was about.

Scenario 2: A calls B into their office and says “Let me give you some feedback…” and proceeds to tell B why they have failed to complete an assignment ‘properly’. Clearly all the differences in scenario 1 still pertain, but now B assumes the Godlike right to hand out judgements. If B does anything other than say “Thank you” they are now labelled as resistant to change. At Best B has their own feelings and some different perceptions, and perhaps some more data.

If in Scenario 2 they communicated in the same spirit as Scenario 1 there would be only winners, as it is the winner and loser are decided by their positional power.

So if today finds you either in A or B’s position, please remember that if you just share information and feelings, then you both win; if you hand out judgements then you are a schmuck!

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” William Shakespeare, Hamlet