Perception vs. Perspective: Understanding the Difference

I used to be an avid reader. Back then, I would spend my time reading fiction, romance, and a lirru bit of true crime. At that point in my life, I read for the fun of it.

As time passed, though, I found myself reading less of those genres of books. I began to read educational materials—solely because I was in school, and of course, I needed the knowledge. Smirks proudly😌.

It took a while before I was motivated back to reading diverse genres again. Needless to say, I was encouraged to reach out more for beneficial books on growth, spirituality, finance, and psychology.

I understand not everyone is a reader; nevertheless, there are diverse ways to accumulate knowledge without having to dust through seemingly endless pages. They include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning. Would love to go deeper into these types of learning processes, but, for now, let's get into this exciting piece.

You may be wondering why I introduced this write-up with the topic of reading. Well, that’s simply because I discovered the unique difference between the two terms to be discussed today from reading books. The words sound alike and, to an extent, may have been used interchangeably by some peeps without understanding the difference. However, there’s a huge difference in what these words mean, as well as how they are used.

What is Perception and Perspective?

Perception, in very simple terms, is the way you see, hear, or feel things around you. It is like the lens through which you view the world, influencing how we interpret and make sense of everything around us. From the colours we see to the sounds we hear, our perception shapes our understanding of reality. For example, when you see a pear, and your eyes tell you its colour, shape, and size—that’s perception!

Now, perspective is seeing things from a vantage point. It is usually shaped by our beliefs, values, and experiences, and it influences how we interpret and understand the world in general. At this point, it's safe to say--perception also influences perspective.

The major difference between these two concepts is while perception focuses on how we see things, perspective considers the broader context and meaning behind what we see, providing a deeper understanding of the world.

One unique illustration I always recall from one of my secondary school English texts is the story of the 3 blind men and the elephant.

It went thus—three blind men who had never encountered an elephant before were asked to touch an elephant to understand the animal better.

The first blind man touched the elephant’s trunk and said, “Ah, an elephant is like a thick snake!” This is his perception because that’s what he senses with his hands.

The second blind man felt the elephant’s leg and declared, “No, an elephant is like a tree trunk or a large scaly wall!” His perception is different because he’s touching another part of the animal.

The third blind man, holding the elephant’s tail, insisted, “You’re both wrong; an elephant is like a rope!” Again, his perception is based on the part of the elephant he’s in contact with.

Now, their perspectives come into play when they start to imagine what an elephant is like as a whole. The first man imagines a snake-like creature, the second pictures a big, sturdy animal like a tree or a wall, and the third thinks of a long, thin animal like a rope.

In simple terms, their perceptions are what they physically feel, and their perspectives are the ideas they form in their minds about what an elephant is, based on their own experiences. Just like the blind men, everyone has their own perception and perspective, which is why people can experience the same thing but have different ideas about it—or having somewhat similar backgrounds but completely different perceptions of it.

Our perception isn’t always objective; it can be influenced by various factors varying from our past experiences, beliefs, and cultural background. When this clicked in my head, a LOT of things started to make so much sense.

One significant factor that affects our perception is cognitive biases – shortfalls in our thinking processes that lead us to make judgments and decisions based on incomplete information or preconceived notions.

These biases can distort our perception of reality, leading us to see things in a way that aligns with our existing beliefs or preferences, rather than how they truly are. As a result, cognitive biases can impact our judgments and decisions, sometimes leading us astray or causing us to overlook important information.

A unique example is the recent backlash I've seen coming from our online ‘elders’ (by elders, I mean those people who automatically think that they can dictate how people should live because they have a large following) explaining how things are not done to suit their taste or done according to the norms of society anymore. They say this without understanding that they are giving their opinions based on their perception and never from a highly informed perspective.

Another example is how fast people, burning with rage, cancel others for either not doing things the way they want them done or simply not doing what their favourite celebrity or influencer is doing. I bet the person who started the killing of twins thought they were doing the world a favour when the rule was implemented.

The Power of Perspective

What prompted me to write about this was a mild argument I had with someone some time ago. It was over a minor topic, and, in retrospect, seeing things from another angle has made me realise how myopic and funny the points we based our argument on were.

Seeing things from other people’s points of view can help us understand how they feel and what they're going through. It can push you to recognize parts of the equation in a particular scenario that you would never have considered beforehand—leading you to think outside of your comfortable, preconceived box.

It’s just like practicalizing the saying–”If you were in my shoes, you would know where it hurts''.

This helps us connect with people on a deeper level, build empathy and foster understanding with them. With the right perspective, we create a sense of mutual respect, which strengthens our relationships and builds trust.

Moreover, by appreciating different perspectives, we become more open-minded, which is very important cos we have to cast out the spirit of shallow reasoning.

If you've read this far, you’re the real MVP in this space. Leave an emoji that explains how you feel about this post right here, so we can chit-chat about anything you wish in the comments. See you thereπŸ€—!

Oh, and we are not done yet…

To wrap it up, it is quite important that we know how to cultivate a good perspective that can help us accommodate others the best way we can.

One thing I have noticed is that we develop a broader perspective when we actively seek out diverse experiences. These experiences can include exploring new places, customs and beliefs, meeting new people, reading books, watching movies, just anything that challenges your mind's space.

Trust me, this is not me telling you that you ABSOLUTELY have to adopt these customs or beliefs. But having even the slightest knowledge of the world outside your circle goes a long way to expand your perspective and also remove cognitive bias.

Other ways to broaden our perspective is by having open and meaningful conversations with people from different backgrounds and viewpoints. This can be done through discussion forums or community events focused on diversity and inclusion.

With the Internet and social media, it's even easier to connect with people thousands of miles away from you and learn about how different and similar their lives are to yours.

Reading books, articles, and other media, such as documentaries that offer diverse perspectives and experiences is another way to go about it. I personally feel like I've visited a lot of places from my mind’s eyes just from the books I've read.

Finally, reflecting on the insights obtained from others while comparing these insights with personal beliefs can help us have a change of perspective or be more receptive to other people’s way of life.

So, there you have it—perception and perspective. I am going to leave y’all with this lil question: In what ways will our lives and interactions with others change when we consciously make an effort to learn and embrace multiple perspectives?

My guess is as good as yours.

Do better, be more accommodating, do not think your ideologies are the end all, be all to life. In all the snippets of knowledge I have gotten over the years, I have only realised that there’s always a well of untapped knowledge I need to tap into. Imagine if I think I know it all.

I’ll leave it here guys, but the party isn't over. Come join the ramble in the comment section πŸ˜‰.

Fun facts:

♧ Memories distort over time, and every human being has at least a portion of fictitious memory.

♤ When you remember a past event, you are remembering the last time you remembered it.

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  1. Now I realize that I have been using both words interchangeably, without ever considering the difference. Thanks for this insight

    1. Oh you're not alone. I wasn't just guilty of misinterpreting the meaning of the two terms, the context at which I saw them was also faulted. I had to correct myself. I am glad you found this piece insightful. Do stick around, we have more interesting bits on the way.

  2. I love this blog! I've been walking around mixing these two without knowing. πŸ˜‚

    1. Wow, really?
      I thought I was the only one on this table. I'm happy that you can relate to this post. Hope to see more of you here πŸ˜ƒ.

  3. I have definitely been using the two words wrongly.. But this is a really deep and easily understandable piece. I loveet.

    The world would be a much better place if everyone embraces thinking in others perspectives and being more empathetic.

    1. Thank you πŸ€—. Your summary is top notch.

  4. I am definitely one of the people who have used these words wrongly

    But this has really helped in broaden my understanding, thank you for the different examples . It really made it clearer

    1. Seriously? I always thought I was the only one in that block. Thanks so much for contributing. I hope to write on topics that captivate you.