Perception Management — 72

This post is part of Project: Inception, written ~8 years ago. It has been untouched from its original, pseudonymous, form. It is also part of the larger “farewell” tour and countdown as I turn-off this blog and head to the metaverse where I will live out the rest of my wonderful days. I hope to see you there!

Perception Management

One of the most frustrating challenges that I’ve had to face as I’ve developed a rhythm and pattern of getting work done (and organizing my life in a way that doesn’t drive me completely insane) is the never-ending battle of managing the perception and the management of perception, as best as I can.

It can be so frustrating that I find myself gritting my teeth as I write this, thinking about the countless times that I’ve felt ashamed or have felt like I’ve had to prove myself or justify my behavior because others didn’t understand my work habits and personal rituals.

As I’ve shared before, I will oftentimes “stack” activities based on similar functions so that I can get things done in an orderly fashion. It’s not necessarily neat nor does it follow any orthodox and linear path but it works for me.

I will oftentimes include recreational activities in my overall work pattern that, to an outside observer, make it look like I’m “slacking” or “taking a break” or “not focusing” on the work and tasks at hand. I might be watching a movie in the background while I write or play a video game while I’m thinking through a particularly challenging piece of code.

I’ve been criticized and shamed because it seems I’d rather play than work when I’m actually very much working! The perception is that I’m not and it’s a battle that I can’t seem to win and most aspie creatives struggle with the management of perception often. We work in strange environments or change up our environments “all the time.” We may also be incredibly “rigid” with our patterns of behavior and “set in our ways” so that we’re uncompromising in those behavioral patterns.

The ironic thing is that these behaviors help us do the great work that we want to do! The rub is that we don’t easily acknowledge or become aware of the perceptions of others so that we cannot always correct or adjust our behaviors or even engage appropriately in conversation with others so that we can mitigate the damage that’s being done. Many times I simply didn’t believe I was doing anything wrong!

But in business, perception management is everything and it’s an incredibly potent force that’s not to be messed with – it’s just that we mess with it all the freakin’ time!

You see, perception management is very nuanced but it’s simply the ability to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you and their perceptions of who you are. It is also the adept skill of leverage those perceptions well for your own needs. It is a ticket to negotiating well and leveraging social equity to smooth out the natural challenges of relationships.

Apparently it is both a skill and a reflex, a craft that is refined and an intuition about who you are and who everyone else is. It’s strength is directly related to your level of confidence in those areas, your strengths, the value that you want (can) create for yourself and others, and the mechanics of behavior that help you execute. With the right mix in play you can overcome the stereotypes that plague us as humans – like gender differences, style, appearance, and biological elements that none of us can control.

Creative aspies, generally-speaking, lack all of these things and can leave us wondering what went wrong.

But it is still possible to learn some of these skills and techniques and learn to adjust our behavior accordingly. Perception management is very much a skill – you must practice it to become better. But it first depends on the key ingredient that makes it all happen: Being honest with yourself. 

You see, perception management is about your integrity and how well you love and accept yourself. For the creative aspie this may take a long time to come to grips with, to come to terms so to speak. To help correct the perceptions of others (or to have them become more flexible with our inflexibility) we must first become more flexible with ourselves. We are who we are and our own perception of who we are needs to be right.

You are one who has asperger’s syndrome. Embrace it.