Stimuli, initially received by our eyes and ears, scientists tell us, are then transmitted to the appropriate area of our brain where they are depicted in comprehensible form. The next (and non- scientific) stage is our personal apprehension of them (our perception).

Perception describes our nuanced, subjective impressions and evaluation of the information so apprehended; it is, regrettably, influenced by such factors as psyche, chemistry and past experience. The internal, life-long conversation with one’s self and resultant personal perceptions will vary from one person to the next. It may be observed that a significant element in this subjective phenomenon appears to be the extent or degree of one’s self-absorption.

Unfortunately, there is no window on the real world save our perception of it, which alone serves as the determining basis for response. The major significance of this phenomenon is amply demonstrated by the observation, for good or bad, that much of one’s own self-image may be affected by an observed societal consensus (shared group perception) as to his personal standing and worth (Blog #47).

In ordinary mundane conversation likewise, perception of the words expressed are often colored by the setting and context of the conversation, as well as one’s judgment as to the authority and character of the speaker. The received message may, as a result, be “photo -shopped” to a degree, dependent upon the hearer’s perceptions and degree of subjectivity. There is good reason to put all contracts in writing (to be signed by both parties); contrary recollection or perception could otherwise lead to dispute.

Intra-family discussion, the appropriate venue and opportunity for the amicable resolution of extant family issues, is often marred by nuanced recollection and perception of past events and statements. An additional and major cause of poor results is the failure of the participants to define and stick to the issue. In discussions of a political nature, similarly, the parties are hard put to restrict debate to the chosen topic; yet this requirement is of crucial importance in order to avoid a mutual descent into meaningless partisan rhetoric.

The benefit and quality of daily personal conversation also diminishes where self –absorption, resulting in completely subjective perception, is at play. The costly failure to attend to what the other person is saying, often in a  pressing need to urge an already worded response, is a failure of even simple interaction; it is sad and, at times, even  perversely hilarious. An illustrative example of such a conversation {after customary greetings and handshake} follows:


Leeward: Oh hi Windy, guess what, I saw Phil yesterday.
Windward: Was that Phil from Long Island or the Phil from the Bronx who owes me $70.00?
Leeward: Phil from Long Island. He told me that his oldest daughter, Peg, is getting married.
Windward: Actually, it was $82.50, he owes, now that I think about it.
Leeward: Phil sent his best regards.
Windward: That bum. he better pay up soon!
Leeward: Well, I have to go. Goodbye.
Windward: Yeah Bye, Good talk.

Spousal discussions are arguably the most photo-shopped. Couples need to put maximum effort into their attempt to restrict the conversation to the intended issue. For example, if the color of a new replacement sofa is in contention, the parties should limit their statements to that selected subject. Additionally, in all spousal discussions involving contrary views, it is recommended that the word, “you” be strictly avoided. The word “you” appears to operate as a catalyst for the escalation of the issue to fundamental topics, more stressful than sofa color.  Some suggestions:

  1. Steadfastly adhere to the agreed specific issue.
  2. Closely listen to the other party and consider his position (as opposed to rehearsing the response).
  3. If a resolution cannot be reached, sincerely acknowledge that parties may, indeed, differ.
  4. Do not conveniently avoid the important exchange of controversial subjects, so necessary to the attainment of solutions, but do respect other’s contrary belief systems.




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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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