Tag Archives: self-deception

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observable Behaviors

Observable Behaviors Are a Fact

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When you look around your workplace you may discover something new, or something different. Are observable behaviors factual?

The task force meets weekly to monitor progress. They are checking data collected against predetermined metrics and measurements.

These are the facts.

Yet, are they really? Is the data a real representation of the truth? Is the data valid and reliable?

Embellished Stories

Let’s assume for the same task force meeting, that Tom arrives late. He misses the beginning.

Before he arrives someone asks, “Where is Tom?”

Someone else replies, “Let’s just get started. Tom is always running late.”


Every day we are confronted with the challenge of scrutinizing the data set. We ultimately have to decide if the data is valid and reliable.

Stories repeated across time often become embellished. It is the big fish story. The walking to and from school, uphill, in a snow storm, both ways.

Was the fish really that big? Was that really what walking to school was like? Is Tom really late for every meeting?

False-perceptions and self-deception is often commonplace, especially as confidence and experience grows. What we observe, we know to be truth. Our experience justifies our assumptions.

Some may describe this as confirmation bias.

Often the biggest challenge for experienced leaders is to let go of their ego. This may be as much about internal awareness, as it is about a flashy, boastful narcissist.

Observable Behaviors

Are you asking more questions? Either through internal self-talk or through open discussion?

Our observable behaviors are always conditioned by our thoughts and our filters. They may also be conditioned by what we are looking for.

When we are watching for who arrives late in order to keep the score, we may miss the opening comments of the meeting. Not because we are not physically present but because we are emotionally absent.

Be careful of what you believe to be fact. It may be more subjective than you realize.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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filtering expectations

Filtering Expectations Can Be Harmful To Your Wealth

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Did you get exactly what you expected? It is likely that much of our cognitive behavior is the result of filtering expectations. What filters are you using? Does it help or just limit and hide the unwanted?

It may be debatable. The idea that we get what we look for and see what we want to see. People may argue profusely that they are not conditioning their reactions or data with their environment. Think twice.

Seeing Is Believing?

What do you expect about your workplace? What are the norms, the cultural climate, and the anticipated outcomes?

You have meetings, what are the expectations, how are you filtering what is presented and discussed?

You interview job candidates. They are heavily filtered. Often by assumed characteristics of backgrounds, stereotypes, and your expectations.

Sometimes you are surprised. Sometimes what you see is not what you get. The filters didn’t catch it, they didn’t self-identify, and now you have a different result.

Filters or Blinders?

We use filters all the time. We often filter our searches online. When we shop online, browse, study, read, and even to get caught up on the news.

Filters can become problematic. Not that we misread the results, but that they also serve as blinders.

Ignore it because it isn’t real. Look the other way because this data is easier to digest.

Deny the data, suggest it isn’t real because it doesn’t align with the path you wish to see.

Filtering Expectations

Are you filtering expectations? Are you using life experiences to drive your vision to a path that aligns with the idea of your vision instead of a path that aligns with reality?

This may be creating false perceptions and self-deception.

We think we know what is in the box. However, we can’t see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, or hear it. Occasionally what is inside the box doesn’t match the picture on the outside.

This is true for your next meeting, the potential new hire, and choosing the most successful path.

Filters can be helpful, but sometimes they block something really great.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Leadership and the Danger of False Perceptions

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One of the most difficult aspects of working with others might be when their perception of a situation is completely different from the popular opinion of reality. In leadership roles, this can be career stalling and occasionally career ending.

Visionary employee thinking of development

Having a formal leadership role in an organization can be a very tough spot. Of course, many people desire and work very hard to achieve the level of excellence required to not only obtain the formal role, but also to demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities.

Few people would argue that confidence is a necessary leadership competency but in some cases confidence can go too far. Has your confidence ever limited your ability to lead? How do you know?

False Perceptions

Leaders can and often do develop blind spots, sometimes to the extent that they fail to see anything but what they believe. After all, their experience is vast and they are certain of their choices, decision making skills, and even the self-assessment of their performance.

This is where the trouble begins, but often not where it ends. Leaders who are so locked in and determined (confident) of a situation or circumstance that they fail to see options or consider alternative directions sometimes make the worst decisions. Let’s face it sometimes our decisions or recommendations just don’t align with the popular opinion and that can make us either a hero, or as some might suggest a zero. 

The biggest problem with all of this is when you believe that you are right and everyone else is wrong. Or worse, you ask some of your friends or direct reports and they tell you what you want to hear, but not what the truth is.

Warning Signs

Every situation is different. Different types of businesses, different people or issues, and different places in time can all affect the most probable outcomes of any situation, but how do you know if you have some false perception issues?

Consider some of these warning signs:

  1. You feel overlooked when new challenges or opportunities are presented and you are not selected for the role or consulted in the matter.
  2. You’ve received feedback that during high stress situations you are unapproachable.
  3. When discussing strategic direction you often feel two steps ahead and are very frustrated with others slowing the progress.
  4. Team members don’t share information when they should. You often only learn of an issue when it is near disaster.
  5. You select employees for tough assignments based on those who are perceived as easy to get along with or those who will go with the flow.

Before you quickly suggest that none of this fits you, I urge you to think through this carefully. These warning signs are often discovered near the root of blind-spot problems and it only takes one to qualify.


Leaders often face challenges of false perceptions and self-deception. Through my business practice I have frequently discovered these issues and sometimes I’m called upon to help coach leaders to overcome these challenges. The toughest part is typically getting the person or persons involved to actually believe there is an issue.

Considering this, taking the first step towards a solution exists when those involved are willing to face the problems.

In 2010, I was fortunate that some of my work in this area was published in the book, The 2010 Pfeiffer Annual : Training (pages 97-106), and is available for purchase on-line. If you are concerned about false perceptions and self-deception or if you are charged with helping someone through these experiences this resource provides a great tool to get started.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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Speed and Choice

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Decisions aren’t always about hurry, rush, and fast action. Many people believe and feel that time is beating them. They have the knowledge, the skill, and the ability to do more, be more, and get more but time prevents progress. Fast choices and quick decisions are often claimed to be made by experience or gut feel.


Have you been to see your doctor, had your car in for repair, or considered purchasing something special for yourself? Decisions and choices made quickly and based on experience can sometimes be the worst choices of all. A wrong diagnoses, back in the repair shop again, and buyer’s remorse. Even experts can easily be mistaken by self-deception and false perceptions.

Back to the issue of time, often the best choices are made with careful analysis, time for the data and our experience to settle in, take shape, and balance emotion with reality.

Ask the Vegas bride, the boss who fired the best employee, and the person selling their current model year car, sometimes the best decisions aren’t fast.


Photo Credit: Tobias

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