Did You Misinterpret Reality Again?

Trigger Question #26

“So, whose reality are we going with today?”

. . .

No, I’m not about to discuss whether reality is real. Or not. That debate is over. Reality is not real.

You don’t believe me? Then why is it you and other people seldom agree on what is going on in the “real” world? Why is it that even your “facts” don’t always match their version? And why on earth can’t scientists settle on a theory but must always tinker with it as they learn more about the “real” world?

Because, as I said, reality isn’t real. Reality is not something we see or experience. I think neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College in Canada, explains it best: “We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.”

And who is creating that story? We are! (Or, at least, our brains are.) We use our history, our perception, our needs and desires, our fears, and who knows what all, to tell ourselves “what’s going on.” On top of that, we are mentally lazy. And so we use mental short-cuts and simple decision-making rules to make deductions quickly and draw rapid conclusions.

The result? We make up our minds without considering all relevant information. No wonder we misinterpret reality! And when we make mistakes in interpreting reality, we respond ineffectively. Or we behave inappropriately. Or misbehave. Or all three.

Mostly, we get away with being mentally lazy. But sometimes someone, somewhere, gets hurt.

What can you do about it? Well, the solution is simple, at least at work:

  • Remember that the other person operates according to a different version of reality, even if only a slightly different version.
  • Pay attention and listen. Carefully.
  • Don’t judge. If you must judge, don’t judge too soon.
  • Forgive. No, not them. Yourself. For getting reality wrong, again.

Above all, don’t jump to conclusions. That just creates more nonsense.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

. . .