What Role Does Perception Play in Communication?

Perception influences communication in several ways, including how different people interpret the same message, how human beings develop stereotypes and what happens when people attribute explanations for certain events. Perception involves the process by which people assess information from their surrounding environments. Each individual’s perception is unique, and perception greatly affects how people communicate with each other, according to Dr. Lee McGaan of Monmouth College.

Four factors cause perceptions to vary among people, and these factors may cause people to organize communication in a variety of ways. Past experiences, physiology, culture and an individual’s present emotional state all contribute to different perceptions of the same communication. Humans receive stimuli from their environment, organize the information and then interpret the information. Perception may alter any of those three steps of basic communication.

Perceptions in communication lead to the halo effect, which means people interpret similar matters without actually experiencing an event. For example, someone may notice a favorable trait in another person, and then use that bias to make judgments about the other person. Those judgments and perceptions may lead to stereotypes.

Perceptions also affect workplace communication between managers and team members. Workers tend to perceive and explain events as outside of their control and coming from external causes. Managers may perceive a problem as an internal error, which means an employee more than likely caused a situation. Workers, in other words, blame an overall situation whereas managers blame workers. In this way, biases may cause friction between bosses and team members.