The reality is determined by the perception of the receiver
Wow, does that title sound complex. This is an idea that I was taught in communication 101 (literally) and have been relearning ever since. What does it mean? It means that it doesn’t matter what you do or say, it matters what your audience thinks you are doing or saying. Since I know you all care deeply about my marriage, let’s go with an example from that front. If I say something to my husband that I think I am saying in a normal voice and he thinks is snappy and grumpy, then to him, he is right. He gets to decide how he receives the message.
What brings this to mind for me today is a debacle that is getting a lot of play in both the tech world and the traditional news media world… the seeming implosion of the the tech blog TechCrunch because of the decision by founder Michael Arrington to start a funds the same start up the blog covers. The outcry of journalists shouting about the conflict of interest has been deafening (and beyond the scope of this blog.) What I have been interested in is the response of TechCrunch bloggers in defense of their blog. The argument comes down to “you just don’t understand how we operate! It is different for us because we are different.” But, here is where we come back to the title of the blog. You don’t get to decide the reality, the receiver does. If the general populous thinks it is problematic for you to fund the same companies you cover, well it doesn’t matter how you operate and we are wrong about how you operate.
What has this to do with you? Well it is a critical reminder that every day we make decisions that sound ok to us but perhaps wouldn’t pass the sniff test of our customers… our audiences. So, if the New York Times wrote about that last decision you made, how would others perceive your actions?