Entry 3: Influences on Perspective

Have you ever made a decision that turned out badly and wondered, “What was I thinking?”  For some this is a common occurrence.  Ever made a decision that worked out well and stopped to think, “How did I pull this off so I can remember to do it again?”  Probably not.  If you do examine your decision making you will discover that your perspective influenced your choice.

Consideration – Personal Protective Equipment

Reframing wearing a breathing mask

                Chance to smell your breath. Understand what others are complaining about.

                Pretend you are a superhero

                Opportunity to advertise

                Reason to shop

                Chance to show off your creativity – designer masks

                Reason to claim that what you said was misunderstood

                Chance to stick your tongue out at someone and not get caught.

As I presented in my previous entry, perspective plays a significant role in decision making.  This entry will focus on what influences perspective.  Consider what factors would influence your decision if you were planning to buy a house, a car, a dishwasher, a book, a piece of gum or whether you wear personal protective equipment during a pandemic.  The more significant the decision, the greater the number of factors which influence perspective.

Decisions are the result of a process:

                There is an occurrence (stimulus)

                The stimulus triggers reactions (response)

                The response inspires alternatives (process)

                The alternatives are processed and produce a decision

Simple illustration

                Traffic signal changes from green to yellow (stimulus)

                Driver is warned that the situation is about to change (reaction)

                Driver considers options, ignore, break, accelerate (process)

                Based on the driver’s perspective a choice is made.

As the driver, what choice would you make?  If your response is, “it depends,” you recognize that your decision is influenced by your perspective on the circumstances.


Consider these perspectives

                Not paying attention and didn’t notice the light change

                There is a car in front of you

                There is a police car following you

                You didn’t see the police car waiting at the light

                You have an aggressive personality

                You are overly cautious

                Late for a meeting

                Tired of being told what to do

                Add your list of influencers

The impact of influencers can vary greatly depending on circumstance, mood, pressures, anticipated benefits and anticipated costs.   To further clarify how influencers effect choice let’s consider the benefit cost ratio of decision making.

All decisions are associated with a perceived benefit and a perceived cost.  If the perceived benefit is greater than the perceived cost we act.  If the perceived cost is greater than the perceived benefit we hold back.  Notice the emphasis on the word perceived.  It is not necessarily the actual benefit or cost, it is your perspective on the potential outcome.  Gambling for example implies risk.  If you perceive yourself to be a winner, you play.  If you perceive yourself to be a loser, you find something else to do with your money.  Since my consideration for this entry is personal protective equipment let’s use wearing a mask during a pandemic for an exercise.

Create two columns on a piece of paper.  Label one column perceived benefits and the other perceived costs.  Examine your decision making regarding wearing a mask during COVID-19 and list the factors that influenced the choices you made.

Now revisit your lists.  Which entries seemed to have the greatest influence on your perspective.  Did the choices that you made appear to be justified in light of your perspective?  If not, you may want to dig a little deeper into what actually influences your decision making.

Here’s what I discovered when I completed the exercise.

           Perceived benefits        

Filters ingested air                                                                          

Reduces the likelihood of getting infected                          

Demonstrate my concerns for self/others                           

I’m in a risk group, reduces my risk                                                                                                                                         

Perceived costs

Fogs up my glasses



Restricts natural breathing/bad air intake

Unnecessary imposed restrictions

Digging deeper

Perceived benefits

Positive role model for employees/customers                  

Others will perceive me as being responsible                     

Eases the concern others have for my health                     

Perceived costs

I don’t like to be told what to do

Rather be a leader than a follower

Restricts my sense of autonomy

In the beginning I resisted the use of PPE because I thought it was an over-reaction to the COVID threat that created more than one inconvenience in my life.  After being challenged on a number of occasions by my family I came to accept that I didn’t want to get sick and my arrogance was getting in the way of my concern for my welfare.  Control and arrogance are two issues that impact my perspective which has led me make a number of poor decisions.

Take Away.

What’s the point?  The more a person understands what influences their perspective, the more they control the impact perspective has on decision making.  When perspective is working for you, maintain course.  When life becomes a struggle, it’s an opportunity to evaluate your perspective and seek alternatives that can take you to a better place.

Clear alternatives make decision making easier.  Wear the mask and live or don’t wear the mask and die.  Curiously enough even under clear alternatives their will be some who will test the limit just to make sure.  Perspective is always a choice and always impacts outcomes.

Keith Neuber                     keith@ikan2.com                             www.ikan2.com

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