Saturday, November 8, 2008

Control Information, Control Perception

Control Information, Control Perception

I know that I may have had a rocky road writing again after the lame Ben and Jerry’s piece, but I was trying to branch off of sports and it was the only thing that came to mind. It has also come to my attention that, especially as I get longer and longer winded, I need pictures to break up the action (this thanks to my only reader mwood919), but as I refuse to spend time digging for relevant pictures, prepare to be entertained as I dig up every possible pirate image I can find and create an incredulous, credibility killing pirate picture environment.

Today, the thing that has been consuming me, and it may be something that everyone else takes for granted, is that the better we control the information that is released, the better we control perception. Now let me qualify this by stating that I understand that as you can lie to people, and damned if they don’t believe you the bulk of the time. I really don’t see the appeal in being a liar for a living, but if you are, then this may just amuse you. I have always been an honest person, sometimes painfully so. This is my charm. Or lack of charm I guess… The problem is that even though people crave HONESTY, what they really want is honesty. What is the difference you might be asking yourself, well it is the capital letters! In addition to that, the difference between HONESTY and honesty is that HONESTY is that in your face perspective of truth that no one wants to hear, and honesty is just not lying to people.

Let’s explore lying for a brief second as it pertains to the argument but not totally. Some believe that a lie is a blatant exclusion of the truth. However there seem to be several shades of lies. The best ones seem to have mostly truth in them, they are far more believable that way. Others believe in a lie of omission. That one is more touchy with me and is also part of my argument. Now there are things that need to be stated when asked, I cheated on you, I stole from the company, I did kill that man, etc. However, telling someone that you backburnered that “important” task because you had several other more important to you tasks, is not really important information, it is only important that you finished the task set before you in a reasonable amount of time. To me, that is not a lie of omission, and also goes with the point of controlling information to control perception. Let’s examine this situation for a second:

Carl comes into your cubicle and tells you that he needs these ABC reports stat. Carl uses terms like stat because he thinks it’s cool, but that is irrelevant because you pretty much have to do what he says. The thing is that as it is every day, you have a butt load (which is a lot for those of you who were unaware) of other things that are equally urgent at least to you and your job. You of course say that you are right on it, and Carl leaves. Then you proceed to do some other tasks, filtering the new assignment. At the end of the day, you have finished your pertinent tasks and Carl’s new task. The only thing that you tell Carl is that you got it done as soon as you could.

The question is did you lie to Carl? In order to have a valid argument, I have to definitively say no. If you tell Carl that you filtered in his assignment along with the other urgent things that you had to do, he will become exceedingly distraught at you effective time management and that you did not perceive his urgency as the true urgency (when in fact, that is a lie, they are all urgent tasks). You will then make Carl’s list of people that need to be fired soon, and he will do his best to make your life miserable. No there is that counter argument that Carl may not be that type of guy, but really we all have worked for a Carl and they are all that type of guy. The thing is that by not telling Carl the HONEST truth, you have controlled his perception of your work. You haven’t lied to him; you really did get the task done as soon as you could. You just had a LOT of other things on your plate and you needed to get them all done.

As you can see honesty is critical to my argument because otherwise it becomes obvious drivel. Besides, I have tried to be as honest as possible with everyone as I have lived my life. The thing that I have learned, especially in marriage is that HONESTY may pay off in immortality, but honesty will pay off here and there. There is just some information that does not need to be shared about yourself depending on your audience. It is important to determine before your dealings how you feel you need to be perceived and then adjust you information flow like CNN does or the government in Vietnam.

I know that there is also the counter argument that the truth will always come out. Well my argument is that if it is something is important enough to tell someone that it will be killer if they find out that you excluded it later…. THEN TELL THEM! Easy peasy… did I just write that? Wow, it is early though. The idea is not to keep important information from people, the idea is to control the information that you have to tell them to control their perception of you. The idea is that some things are just inflammatory, and need to not be told. They don’t gain you or anyone anything, they don’t harm anyone, they only can hurt you and your relationship with the other person. The idea is to begin with the end result (the perception) in mind, and constantly work towards that.

Again I know that this may be old news to the rest of you all (mwood919 my only reader. By the way does this count as a shout out? I am not much for shouting, but I know that shout outs are a big deal or something.), but it is something that I have thought about incessantly. It helps especially when you are a little odd like me.