How to Use Perception Checking for Effective Communication

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

This post discusses perception checking in communication and how to check your perception with three easy steps for personal development and effective communication skills. 

Table of Contents

  1. Perception Checking
  2. How to Check Your Perception for Effective Communication Skills
  3. Why You Should Check Your Perception Before Communicating
  4. Perception Affects Communication
  5. Perception is Truth, Sort Of
  6. Checking Perception for the Big Picture
  7. Perception Checking Uncovers Missed Opportunities
  8. Perception Checking Skill
    1. Defining Perception
    2. Influences to Perception
    3. We judge ourselves more charitably than others.
    4. We cling to first impressions.
    5. We assume that others are similar to us.
    6. We are influenced by the obvious.
  9. Checking Perception
    1. Elements of Perception Checking
  10. Summary
  11. Related Topics
  12. References

Perception Checking

Perceptions are often based on assumptions that may not be true.

For example, if someone says they like something, we assume they mean they like it because they said so.

However, they could also mean they like it because it is a good thing to say.

So, when communicating with others, it is important to check perceptions by asking questions such as:

  • “What did you mean?”
  • “How would you feel about this?”

How to Check Your Perception for Effective Communication Skills

How you see the world shapes how you communicate with others.

If your view is distorted, your perception will cloud your ability to relate to those around you.

An inaccurate perception results in ineffective communication and missed opportunities.

Why You Should Check Your Perception Before Communicating

Many people don’t realize how their perceptions affect their communication.

Your perception is your own truth.

Many factors influence it, including your past experiences, stereotypes, and biases. 

It’s essential to check your perception before communicating with someone else because you may not be seeing the whole picture.

For example, suppose you’re only considering your own viewpoint. Then, you could miss important information or fail to understand another person’s perspective.

Perception Affects Communication

Checking your perception regularly helps ensure seeing things clearly and communicating effectively.

Here are some tips for checking your perception: 

  • Pay attention to your emotions and try to identify any patterns or triggers. Our emotions can give us valuable information about our underlying beliefs and assumptions. 
  • Be curious about other points of view.

Perception is Truth, Sort Of

Your perception is your own truth.

However, it is influenced by many factors, including your past experiences, stereotypes, and biases.

Checking your perception for effective communication skills helps to ensure that you perceive the situation accurately and communicate effectively. 

There are a few things you can do to check your perception: 

  • First, consider what you already know about the situation or topic. What information do you have that might be influencing your perceptions? 
  • Second, try to look at the situation from multiple perspectives.

Checking Perception for the Big Picture

When communicating with someone, it’s vital to ensure accurate perception.

You may not be seeing the whole picture, and if you’re not, then your communication will be ineffective. 

Pay attention to what the other person is saying and doing to check your perception.

For example, if they seem upset, and you are unaware of why ask yourself if something might be happening. Then ask the other person.

Similarly, if they seem happy or excited, try to discern whether their good mood is genuine or whether they might just be putting on a front.

Check in with them to understand them.

Perception Checking Uncovers Missed Opportunities

Suppose you’re only considering your own viewpoint. Then, you could miss important information or fail to understand another person’s perspective.

To effectively communicate with others, it is crucial to be aware of your perceptions and how they might influence how you interpret or respond to a situation.

Make a conscious effort to consider other points of view, even if they differ from yours. Consciously considering other points of view helps prevent misunderstandings and improve communication overall.

Perception Checking Skill

An essential skill to be developed by any leader is perception checking.

However, to practice perception checking for personal development, we must first understand perception and how it influences our interpersonal communication and relationships.

Defining Perception

Perception is the process whereby we assign meaning to the world around us.

However, we all look at the world differently and have different experiences.

As a result, we all create different interpretations of what we see around us.

Influences to Perception

Many things influence perception.

More importantly, as it relates to interpersonal communication, we all share common tendencies in perception.

We judge ourselves more charitably than others.

We consider ourselves more generously to convince ourselves and others that the cheerful face we present to the world is accurate.

This tendency is called self-serving bias.

This bias influences how we engage in and interact in our interpersonal communication and relationships. 

We cling to first impressions.

We label people according to our first impressions to make some interpretations about them:

  • “She seems cheerful.”
  • “He seems sincere.”
  • “They sound awfully arrogant.”

We are naturally hardwired as mammals to respond to a sense of certainty in our environments.

Our survival is dependent upon this certainty.

When we label, we no longer need to worry about uncertainty because we know what to expect and have a sense of knowing the future by attributing meaning to the labels.

We assume that others are similar to us.

We tend to think that others’ views are similar to our own, which applies to many situations.

We naturally are attracted to those around us who share similar interests.

Again, we are hardwired as mammals to connect. It is part of our innate desire for survival.

There are strengths in numbers, and our experiences are predictable, enjoyable, and safe when we are among similar companies. At least from the view of our perception.

We are influenced by the obvious.

Being influenced by the obvious is understandable. However, is the most obvious the most accurate?

Knowing we are hardwired for how we view the world and what our perception is influenced by, being able to see beyond the obvious takes an acquired skill and practice.

Checking your perceptions and the perceptions of others in your interpersonal communication and relationships will help you to uncover opportunities you never knew existed.

We know serious problems can arise when we treat our interpretations of a person’s comments or behaviors as facts.

So how do we move beyond these powerful tendencies to a place of skilled leadership in our interpersonal communication and relationships?

Checking Perception

A simple strategy of perception checking to confirm your perceptions will help you sort through a situation before it gets out of hand and move you to a place of skilled leadership.

In addition, this approach puts listeners at ease, making them more likely to open up to you.

You will then have the opportunity to uncover missed or new opportunities.

Observing missed opportunities with perception checking will discover new possibilities in your relationships.

Elements of Perception Checking

  1. Describe the behavior you noticed.
  2. Offer at least two unique possible interpretations of the behavior.
  3. Request clarification about how to interpret the behavior.

For example, James said he would text you an order by the end of the afternoon; by six o’clock, you still didn’t receive anything. So you assume he is no longer interested, and you let it go at that and do not follow up.

However, using the elements of perception checking, you approach your next conversation with James like this:

“You said you would text your order by late afternoon, but I didn’t receive anything by six. Did you forget about it, or perhaps you’re no longer interested? What happened?”

Using this approach, James might inform you that there was an emergency at work, or he might have sent it, and it was to the wrong phone number. He could also give you any number of reasons.


To conclude, the model for perception checking is a crucial leadership skill for personal development.

Like with any skill development, perception takes time and practice.

Writing out the elements of perception checking is helpful to see any missed opportunities about your intentions for initiating this form of communication.

Until next time,



Adler, R. B., Rolls, J. A., & Proctor, R. F. (2020). LOOK: looking out, looking in. Nelson Education.

Perception Checking as a Key Leadership Skill – LinkedIn.

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