We tend to judge others by their actions, and judge ourselves by our intentions.
This statement is a challenge that we all face as we interact with others on a daily basis. It is very easy to assess our own behaviors as right when we only take into account our intentions. It is also very easy to assess others behaviors as wrong when we only take into account their actions. Either way, how we perceive ourselves and others daily behaviors can greatly impact the relationships we form with friends, colleagues, and our students.
Problems like this make me question whether there is really right and wrong? Is anything really black and white? Or, do our perceptions make a world of grey appear black and white through our eyes; while those same events can be perceived very differently by others. I am not questioning the extremes towards one end or the other, because I know there are some horrible things that happen that are definitely wrong. I am questioning the clarity of right and wrong in the process of our normal everyday decision making.
Right seems right and wrong is wrong based on our backgrounds, values, and perceptions of each situation. If those backgrounds, values, and perceptions are different among two individuals, does that make one right and one wrong as they react differently to the same situation? Is the other person wrong because we perceive ourselves to be right? We have heard the old adage “perception is reality,” this reality goes both ways.
What I have come to understand is that if we looked at the world through someone else’s eyes, there would be a lot more grey area than we would normally allow in our daily world. Or, think about it this way…if you were a student in your classroom, what would be your perception of your own actions (as a teacher to student) each day. Would they align with what you believe are your intentions?
As you go through the week, take a step back, remove the intentions of your behaviors, and examine yourself by the way others perceive your actions and behaviors. If you are not getting the results you want in certain situations, then your perceptions of your intentions may be clouding what you believe to be a black and white situation. The only way to change the outcomes is to change the behaviors that led to that result.