How Our Beliefs Influence Our Perceptions

As Featured On EzineArticlesCommunication forms the basis for all successful human interaction. If you have ever found yourself needing to ask for directions in a foreign country then you will have experienced how much we rely on communication to gain needed information. You will also have experienced one of the more obvious barriers to communication, the lack of a shared or common language.

With Latin origins, the word communication means to reach a common understanding of ideas. This requires a person with an idea to encode it into a message, send it to another who receives, decodes and interprets the message as the original idea. Of course this doesn’t always happen. Barriers sometimes get in the way and block this coding process.

Some barriers are less obvious than the foreign language example above. We’ve all had the experience of speaking with someone in our own native tongue, yet still misunderstand them. Many types of communication barriers exist and the more subtle they are, the more problematic they can become.

One such barrier results when people have different code-books. They work like this. Encoding involves a sender substituting symbols, such as the word ‘apple’, to represent the object the sender intends to communicate about. Decoding involves a receiver decoding and interpreting whether the word ‘apple’ represents a fruit or a MacIntosh computer. For accurate encoding and decoding to occur the sender and receiver need to share a similar code-book.

The code-book is a metaphor for more than just verbal code, it also includes non-verbal code. This is all the other parts of a message that aren’t conveyed by words. For example, in a face-to-face meeting with say your boss, the message is never sent using words alone. Your facial expressions, tone of voice, how you are dressed, your body posture and gestures will all influence the message your boss receives. The more similar your boss’s code-book is to yours, the more accurately he will interpret your message.

Arguably the most significant communication barrier is caused by our own internal mental processes. These relate to our accumulated knowledge and experiences of the world and they form our most closely held beliefs and values. Albert Bandura, one of the most influential psychologists of all time, identified the importance of these internal mental processes in influencing how we interpret and respond to external events. Bandura’s theory explains how our internal mental process, that is our beliefs and values, influence the way we interpret and perceive the world around us. As a result of this, individuals can and often do perceive the exact same event or situation very differently.

Without the awareness that others hold beliefs and values contrary to our own, we tend to falsely believe the way that we interpret an event is correct and that everyone else also sees the world as we do. The raising of this awareness within ourselves is a key component and first step towards enhancing our own interpersonal communication skills.

Glenys B Woolcock

For more Free Information on enhancing your own Interpersonal Communication Skills, please visit where you can also find videos on Personal Empowerment through Choice Theory. Glenys Woolcock is a strong supporter of William Glasser’s Choice Theory, and facilitates Quality Choices Workshops in Australia, using certified William Glasser Choice Theory Trainers.

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