On Paradigms, Power and Perceptions…

Paradigms power perceptions and perceptions power emotions.”

Quote from Sarayu to Mackenzie in the book, “The Shack.”

What’s the color of anger when you’re color blind and can’t see red? When it comes to emotional heat, each of us experiences the full spectrum of color in a myriad of different ways.
Emotions arise out of our pre-disposed patterns of thinking and perceiving an event, person or situation. Often these perceptions are so deeply held that we are startled by the response they generate when they emerge in living color.

A few weeks ago, there was a knock on my door. When I opened the door, two young men stared at me…then burst out laughing. I stared at them quizzically, although I had a fair estimate of why they were giggling uncontrollably. Finally, one of them was able to collect himself and extend his hand. He said, “Excuse me m’am, we didn’t expect…”

I understood what he was trying to blurt out between giggles. He, a young African American man, knocking on doors in my neighborhood had not expected to see a face that looked like his own answering the door bell. The emotional rush created by his paradigm about ‘who should live where’ literally overwhelmed him when his perceptions of the reality facing him proved to be false!

Paradigms and perceptions are not regular topics of discussion in most real estate circles, but in many ways, they are a huge dynamic within our engagement in the profession of buying and selling property. They impact how we handle transactions, respond to stress and treat other people.

I’ll never forget a story I heard during a class on Fair Housing about a farmer who walked into a real estate office, with his farm clothes on, and requested the assistance of a real estate professional. Because he was in dirty clothes, most of the agents in the office didn’t want to help him. Well, the one who did ended up making a hefty commission. The farmer with the dirty clothes turned out to be a wealthy business man who bought a pretty good sized piece of property!

Well, what is a paradigm exactly? According to Wikepedia, a ‘paradigm is a philosophic or theoretical framework of any kind.’ We all operate within paradigms. These are the under-girders which support how we look at the world and frame our judgments. Paradigms support our worldviews and provide the context in which we make our decisions. They help us to discern what we think ‘belongs’ in any given space.

But, hidden within the familiar confines of a paradigm is an incipient danger. It is the danger of misperception. You see, paradigms are simply philosophies and theories…they’re not necessarily true or correct. Yet, they can control how we think and are pre-disposed to respond even when the facts don’t necessarily add up.

Paradigms are costly because they influence who we are and how we react in ways that may not be obvious to the uninformed observer. They also serve as the base foundation for just about every negative ‘ism’ you can think of…racism, sexism, communism etc.

Our emotional responses can reveal a goldmine of information if we’re willing to be honest. When we respond to someone or something, it’s helpful to take a moment to reflect on what perception colored the exchange and what the underlying paradigm which supports a potential misperception might be. The power to change lies within unleashing the hidden charges which underlie negative paradigms so our perceptions become aids to our progress rather than hindering it.

Copyright 2008 Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved

Picture courtesy of brani’s photostream on flickr