If you’ve been on Facebook or watched the morning news, you’ve probably heard about "the Dress." This ordinary garment has rocketed to the consciousness of the globe after a group of friends were having disagreement about what color it was. After they posted a picture on tumblr, the debate captured the attention of most social networks. And if you ask someone near you now what color it is, you might be surprised by their answer. (Go ahead, I’ll wait here.)
What color is the dress, blue and black or white and gold?
Wrong. No matter what you answered. Science will tell you that color is a matter of perception, and we as a species have come to a consensus on what we actually see and what we call “red,” “blue,” and “chartreuse.” If you look at something we call “red” through the eyes of a bull, it won’t appear any different that something we call “green.” They don’t have the perception to see the difference between those wavelengths of light.
So what does this have to do with anything?
Think about any problem you’ve ever had in your career. An employee doesn’t agree with their midpoint. The CFO’s thinking isn’t in line with HR’s ideas on the labor budget. A board member approaches the CEO's compensation and benefits based on their their own career experiences, and not with current market trends. All of those conflicts - and I believe most other examples we could think of - become contentious because of the difference in perception. That employee believes they are the only person who can do what they do. The CFO is worried about posting good numbers and the HR Director knows that employees will leave for a better paying offer, despite the stellar numbers this quarter. The board member hasn't had the opportunity to experience a competitive job market.
What’s the fix?
Buy in. Consensus building. Getting on the same page. Creating Concurrence. (I made up that last one.) All of these things shift perspectives; they allow each party involved to see what the importance of each factor when making decisions. When we assume that everyone else sees the color we see, we put ourselves in a harder situation. If we first start by establishing common ground, then we are creating a collaborative environment, with the goal of working together, even if we have a different perspective.