In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

Truly objective perception isn’t just difficult, it’s nearly impossible. That means everyday, despite your best efforts, people will interpret your actions, words, and behaviors differently than you intended. 

It’s the same reason why there are Michelin star restaurants certain people love and others hate; nobel prize winners some revere and others think are a hack. 

While we can’t control people’s perceptions, the more we understand them, the more we can influence them… 

Today’s episode is all about acknowledging and appreciating the multitude of factors that affect perception so we can bridge the gap with our communication and work to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings. 

We cover:

  • The 8+ variables affecting perception & how to identify them
  • The ONLY tool that can help bridge a perceptual gap  
  • The Better Than Average Effect + Theory of Mind: why they matter
  • Two ESSENTIAL questions to ask when you’ve been misunderstood 

As mentioned in this episode, if you’re looking for more reading on perception, check out this previously redacted article: Mokusatsu: One Word, Two Meanings.

And If you’ve made it this far, let’s give a huge shoutout to our incredible sponsors and upcoming events! 

  1. Dynamic Fitness & Strength is our premier sponsor and go-to supplier of strength equipment. Not only do they have custom options, the fastest turnaround times and most affordable packages, they waste the least amount of material of any equipment company out there. Reach out to them at and tell them the AoC team sent you!
  2. To support our other sponsors- Momentous, VersaClimber, LMNT, SAGA, & Ice Barrel check out their unique offers for the AoC community at

As for what we have coming up! 

Brand Builder Workshop – If you’ve ever wanted to create something of your own, or have ever thought: “How can I help more people?”- this 2 day workshop is for you. Your brand isn’t about selling something, it’s about refining how you relate to others. 

Join us March 19-20th, 2022 and let us help you make a difference by scaling your voice, increasing your impact and getting your message out. Visit for more information. 

Speaker School – We all know public speaking is one the biggest fears people have; “What would I talk about?” “What if people don’t care?”, “How do I select my approach?” Let us give you confidence, clarity and a community of other people who can help you figure this out. 

If you’re ready to get guidance and you want practice speaking so you can be seen as a subject matter expert in your space, or just better at pitching your ideas, check out for dates and info!


Brett Bartholomew  00:11

Today’s episode is brought to you by Dynamic Fitness & Strength. They are one of our newest sponsors, our premier sponsor, and they are a manufacturer of American made premium strength equipment. Bottom line, if people ask me, Hey, I want to get a garage and put together a home gym put together, or if they’re outfitting a weight room in either the professional side of sport, Collegiate High School dynamic is our go to their team includes coaches, with over 160 years of combined coaching experience across a wide variety of settings. They offer the most customization options.

They’re the fastest lead times in the industry. And one of the biggest things and I know, I’ll get guff for this, but yeah, guys, it matters. They waste the least amount of material. Now, I want you if you’re not in the industry to think about this for a minute. Generally, anytime coaches changeover in the NFL, or college or NBA or whatever, a lot of those weight rooms go with it, somebody comes in, they bring their own stuff. I mean, think about all the racks, all the equipment, all the stuff, that’s perfectly fine.

And it just gets overturned, there’s a tremendous amount of waste out there from all kinds of manufacturing processes and the like dynamic is one of the most efficient, they’re just good people. So whether you want to do something that’s 900 square feet, 9000 square feet, they got you make sure to check them out by going to Let them know Brett and the Art Of Coaching sent you again. That’s


Brett Bartholomew  01:39

I also want to thank our sponsors, VersaClimber, Momentous, and LMNT without all of these sponsors, all of which you can learn more about at We’re not able to do this podcast. So I know everybody hates ads. I know everybody wants to get right to the episode. But do me a favor, reach out to one of these brands support them. Remember, they’re people just like us trying to make a bigger difference. And at least say hi at least talk to them and get to know a little bit more about them. That’s All right, a couple of other things I want to let you guys know, remember, we have a lot of live events that we do around the country and really around the world. 


Brett Bartholomew  02:17

And two of the ones we’re most excited about our Brand Builder workshop and our newly announced Art Of Coaching Speaker School. Now Brand Builder, what is that about? That it’s for anybody who wants to create something of their own? Maybe you thought about writing a book, maybe you thought about starting a website? Maybe you’ve already done these things, but you’re trying to scale it. 

The bottom line is you’re generally go to bed at night thinking is there more I can do? What else should I be doing? How, how else could I help people and that is what this is for. Now for those of you that are off put by or put off rather for the name brand. Remember guys like with a brand, we’re not trying to tell you how to sell something a brand is all about how you relate to others, it’s hard to make a difference if you cannot scale your voice, your impact and get your message out. So make sure to check it out.

We are hosting this March 19 and 20th We are doing a dinner at my house. Literally we’re hiring a chef we’re doing a dinner, this is something small and intimate. There’s you’re gonna get downloadable slides custom workbook, we make these things very, very interactive. So if you feel stuck, if you feel compelled to do something on your own, even if you love your job, if there’s something that you’ve always wanted to do on the side, or something that has called you for a long time, make sure to check it out.

You can go to for that, or you can also email us at info at art of All right, the next piece Speaker School. Now this was something that we hold off on doing for a long time. Frankly, I didn’t know if people were serious about wanting to do it. But we heard about enough of our audience that really felt like they had this passionate tension when there’s this topic, this perspective or this story that they wanted to share in the name of helping others. 


Brett Bartholomew  03:56

Now, we all know that public speaking is one of the biggest fears that people have. They feel like what would I talk about? What if people don’t care? How do I select this kind of my approach, and that is what we’re going to cover. Let us give you the confidence and clarity and most importantly, a community of other people that can help you figure this out. If you’re ready to get guidance, and you want to practice speaking more effectively, either because you want to present more you want to be seen as a subject matter expert in your space. Maybe you just want to get better at pitching yourself during interviews, you have trouble talking about yourself in an authentic, natural way, whatever, let us help you.

You can go to And we have multiple dates both in August and November of 2022. It’s all on the website Then really guys, I want to tell you, I appreciate you allowing me to tell you about these things. At the end of the day. You know, the podcast is something we love to do. But this is these other things are how we put food on the table and it’s also where we’re going to be able to share our most in depth stuff. 

So for those of you that follow us on social Media, you’re on our newsletter, you’re on the podcast, we couldn’t be more grateful. Just remember when it comes to applying it being hands on and being interactive. There’s no better way to do it than coming to one of our live workshops.

And we understand that everybody has different financial situations. There’s payment plans, there’s tons of early bird discounts. Make sure to check it out. All right, now let’s get into today’s episode.


Brett Bartholomew  05:38

Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom, and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me. And now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Brett Bartholomew  06:11

Alright, guys, I’m glad you can be with me for this, we have a huge task today to cover probably one of the most important subjects we’ve ever covered on this show something that continues to come up again and again in our workshops again, and again, and a lot of the work that we do, and it’s going to come up more and more in conversations regarding anything that has to do with communication in general. So we’re going to be referencing a lot of material, we’re going to be diving into the weeds here. And we’re also going to do our best to make this very practical. This could easily be multiple episodes, but we’re gonna dive into it. Alright, so starting with a simple central premise.

Communication is a central component to human existence. And that is not my opinion. That is something quoted by Owen Hargie, one of the leaders in this space, we’re literally at the top of the food chain, because of the way we as human beings interact. The research will show as well life experience, if you’ve had enough of it, that nearly every social issue is tied back to communication. And despite this, that subject is still not well understood, right? We think of communication as a soft skill, we think of it as an intangible, we don’t always really train it, we easily take it for granted. And we definitely don’t often get assessed or evaluated. And it doesn’t take much to realize that this has ramifications, right? Like any skill, you have to train this in a wide variety of ways and a wide variety of contexts. 


Brett Bartholomew  07:39

In addition, people themselves are extraordinarily complex. I think we’ve, if you didn’t know this before, you certainly have seen it during this pandemic, everything from toilet paper hoarding, to irrational behavior we’ve witnessed and other formats. I think we all know somebody in our life, that is the quintessential example of a highly complex or maybe even a complicated individual. And let alone think about the relationships between them and others and the people in your life as well.

And I get it, you’re saying okay, Brett, why, why do we need to talk about this? What about the complexity? Well, here’s the thing, when you think about the idea that perceptions of others are irrelevant to virtually every human endeavor, and the way that we perceive things, colors, the world around us, it doesn’t take much to realize how much in your life is impacted by that. Every day, you guys, us collectively, we are impacted by the biases, and perceptions of others. And you may not even know it.

I want you to think about a time for example, where you really tried to help somebody I mean, you went all out. You gave it your best, you either gave them tremendous advice, or maybe you stayed after work late to help them with something, maybe you tutored somebody, maybe you went out on a limb to introduce somebody to somebody else in your network, whatever help means to you. Have you thought about it? Now, think about a time when you did that. You went the extra mile for that person. Yet, despite your best efforts, it wasn’t received in the way that you intended. They either expected more from you. They felt like they were let down by the experience. 


Brett Bartholomew  09:21

You said one thing that can you thought conveyed Sincerity, honesty, compassion, yet they took it completely in a different direction. And then think about that feeling it gave you this feeling of not just concern or disappointment. But almost this what just happened, this 180 degree spin and I can think of countless throughout my life. I can think of times that I really thought I gave my best I was engaged.

I mean, if you hooked me up to a lie detector test, I would tell you that and there was times where that just didn’t hit the mark. for somebody, you know, we used to talk about all the time in strength and conditioning, there are certain athletes that love the weight room. And there are other athletes that hated it, it wasn’t a place of positivity and improvement to them. There are people that perceive certain environments as relaxing, they may love to go to places like Las Vegas, and they may love the stimulation of the lights, in the music and the nightlife.

And for other people, Las Vegas is the last place they’d ever want to be. We know that certain people love going skiing and being in the snow, others love going to the beach, there are sense there all these things that we all interpret differently. I mean, for that matter, guys, we don’t all perceive love, beauty, pain, art the same way. We hear this all the time, one man’s trash is another one’s treasure, perception, colors everything that we do. 


Brett Bartholomew  10:55

And so we’re going to talk about that a little bit. And we’re actually also going to talk about within that, why objectivity is over related in and of itself. And we say this, because of, you know, we had an interesting experience at a workshop recently. And it was really constructive. We’re going through an evaluation. And to give you context, you know, in our evaluation, a big part of it is trying to answer the question that maybe some of you have asked yourself, and if you haven’t, it’s a really useful one to ask yourself, how might I be coming across, right, because you know, that you might think that you’re coming off as passionate or informed or helpful, or caring. 


Brett Bartholomew  11:34

But as I just mentioned, that’s not always going to be the case. Because for that matter, the definition of perception is the way in which we interpret, define, and organize our sensory experiences. say that, again. Perception is defined empirically, as the way in which we interpret, define and organize our sensory experiences.

And so when you consider that we’re having this conversation, excuse me, and we had just gotten done with a role playing exercise, then an individual said, Well, what good is this evaluation? Because it’s subjective. And I asked him, Well, how do you mean? And he said, Well, it’s this other person’s opinion of me and how I come across. And I said, Yeah. And he said, well, not everybody’s gonna think the same thing. And I said, You’re right. And he says, well, wouldn’t it be strengthened if it was objective?

And I thought for a minute, because it’s an interesting argument. You know, it pays to take a second to take note that there are many times in life, either maybe due to age, naivete, or just other factors. It can even be our own insecurities, where you have to understand it, and really be honest with yourself that I know we create, we crave certainty, we crave certainty. 


Brett Bartholomew  12:55

Many of us want the answer the best approach, especially if you’re somebody that just has this pulse of purpose within you, you don’t want to waste time, you want to know you have a thirst for knowledge you want to improve. But the fact is, guys, is that there’s no one size fits all approach is and there’s no way and you know this, that everybody’s gonna perceive you, your value, your words, your attractiveness, whatever the same way. I mean, that’s two part of two fundamental proofs or truths, rather, of perception is that people can only attribute value subjectively. And early judgments tend to rule decision making, which is why biases can be so harmful, even though they’re there.

And so getting back to the conversation, you know, I had mentioned to the individual that, you know, in life, you’re always going to deal with different opinions of people. And what’s problematic is, if you don’t take the time to understand those, right, imagine you guys have an evaluation in front of you. And we just went through an exercise where I don’t know maybe you were wanted to ask your boss for a raise. Or maybe there’s a colleague at work that you don’t get along with, or maybe there’s somebody you’re trying to build a buy in with whatever, I want you to imagine a scenario, then I want you to imagine that we just enacted that maybe I’m the antagonist in the scene, maybe you are either way we’re going through it. 


Brett Bartholomew  14:19

And I also want you to imagine somebody’s videotaping this so that we can review it later. So the scenes done, and now you have a sheet of paper, and I want you to evaluate, hey, what was your one, zero to three, with three being excellent or appropriate relative to the context? And zero being, you know, in some instances, not present, but in this case, let’s just say awful, right?

What would you rank your tone? What would you rank  your use of questions? What would you rank just different aspects of your body language what we call kinesics? Kinesics are what most people think of body language, right? Did you cross your arms? Did you furrow your brow? What would you rank your use of trying to relate to the other person? Maybe did you disclose for example. Did you if somebody if you’re asking for a raise, Did you say, Hey, I know that company has had a tough fourth quarter and that we’re not in a spot of financial strength but, right. Did you acknowledge that? So rank yourself or what you thought you would do?

Then have somebody else rank you and say, Well, hey, you know, alright, I thought you were one, I thought you’re three, whatever, then you compare these scores, this is what we do at our workshop, you rank yourself, because we all have our own egocentric bias, somebody else ranks you who is involved in that scene or role playing scenario with you. And by the way, all of life is role playing, right?

Many of you play the role of mother or father or partner. And then you play the role of colleague and co worker, and then you play another role. So when I say role playing, I just mean engaging in kind of an interaction and it could be an adversarial simulation, it could be just gaming it out and kind of running through it no different than when lawyers do mock your mock trials or anything like that. We’re just playing it out. 


Brett Bartholomew  16:06

So then what you do once you’ve accounted for your own egocentric bias, how you thought you came across, your partner will give you their pure bias. Here’s how I thought, all right, you gave yourself a three, I gave you a one, here’s why, you started having that conversation.

Then at our workshops, we then have the group depending on the time that we have, evaluate how they thought you had and all in all, what this accounts to guys, is people having conversations have what’s called communicative intent, hey, here’s what I was trying to say, here’s what I was trying to do. Here’s what I was attempting to achieve, and communicative impact what other people perceived, which is what’s going to happen every single day, every single day, despite your best intentions, somebody’s going to perceive something different.

Because no two people and this comes from, Otara, 2011, no two people experience and interpret their sensations, events, or even their own feelings the same way. They don’t. I mean, I could take somebody through a hard workout, somebody else thinks it’s easy. I could take somebody to a great Mexican restaurant, to somebody else. It’s not authentic, somebody can have wonderful farm to table food served in the highest quality atmosphere, and somebody’s not going to like that restaurant. 


Brett Bartholomew  17:30

Conversely, somebody could go to a hole in the wall grease pit with horrible food, barely passing sanitary practices. And they’re going to think it’s the best thing ever, maybe because their dad took them there as a kid, maybe that’s where they met their wife. That’s the bottom line. And so what this conversation was about is how truly objective perception is not just difficult, but as the research points to nearly impossible.

So when I asked this individual, you know, given this, given your crave for object craving for objectivity, and the fact that when it comes to human relations and interaction, it’s just not possible. You know, what, then, and we went on to have a productive conversation. And eventually he had a realization. And he said, listen, here’s why I crave it, I got fired from my job. And I am tired of having to prove my worth again and again and again, and provide my and prove my value. And so within that he started saying, like to be able to have something that he could take to an employer that says, Look, I scored this, I accomplished this, and that employer to interpret it, as you know, okay, wow, I really have somebody good here. That’s just not realistic.

I mean, even if it was purely objective, it’s still subjective in the minds of the employer. And I want you to just all this terminology, I want to pause for a moment, I just want you to think about that. Look around your room. Look around your house. Look at what you’re wearing. What does it say about the things that you value? Your perception of those brands, your perception of the experiences that you seek out on vacations? What does that say about you? And do you think that everybody else likes that? Of course not.

That’s why there’s so many choices for people in the world. And really, we owe a tremendous amount to a gentleman named Wilhelm Wundt, who in 1879 was the first to study this. And when we think about perception, even though we can’t control it, we are able to influence it, the more that we understand it. And that’s what a better understanding of not only perception, but communication does. 


Brett Bartholomew  19:45

One sound bite that I really want you guys to take with you from this episode is this. All human interaction no matter what field you’re in, no matter what position you’re in, no matter what stage of life you’re in, starts From a place of misunderstanding, that’s the baseline, we cannot read each other’s minds. People don’t just inherently know somebody means well, or wants the best for them or wants to help them.

We don’t know, every interaction starts from a place of misunderstanding. So communication is a necessary tool to help bridge that gap. If I get bumped into, which I did the other day at the supermarket, and I turn around, and that person doesn’t say sorry, I don’t know if that was intentional or not. And I’ve got to figure that out. I’ve got to reconcile that. When we used to trap when our ancestors, our earliest ancestors, would traverse right hunters and gatherers. And they saw another tribe, they didn’t inherently know if they’re going to try to kill them, are they going to collaborate? Are they going to compete? Are we going to band together? Are they going to try to kill us? We don’t know.

Until we’ve communicated and interacted until we’ve asked that question. How might I be coming across? How might this be interpreted? And it’s not enough to ask that question, you’ve got to have those interactions. So within that, the perceptual process is adapted in three stages. Right? There’s stimulation, think about it. This person seems angry, that food looks spicy, the crowd seems hostile, Brett seems fired up. Then there’s recognition. Right?

So stimulation, you can think of it as like the input. Recognition is our interpretation, how we try to decode it. Was that behavior Good? Was that bad? Was that unprofessional? Was that melt? Spoiled? Was that rotten? Is this person threatening? And then there’s our action, after the input, after we’ve interpreted it, or we’ve decoded it, then we can take action. That is our subsequent response. So the food looks tasty, great, you know, interpretation, man, the food is tasty, then when we think about that, in the future, that might make us salivate or hungry, thinking about that food, there are those three stages. 


Brett Bartholomew  22:14

Now, you might think, Alright, but what else interpret what like, what else influences this, because I want you to think about it right? People don’t change for a wide variety of reasons. And we have a previous episode, because a lot of what we do at Art Of Coaching is about building authentic Buy in and building true trust and commitment, through shared meaning making an interaction because commitment is different than compliance.

And one of the reasons some people don’t change is because of perception, right? They don’t perceive whatever you’re asking them to do to be necessary or beneficial. And this is, you know, there was a time where people didn’t think they needed to stop smoking. There’s times where people don’t think they need to be more active. You know, you hear it all the time. I remember, you know, my relatives are from Iowa, and I’m from Nebraska. So you’d hear oh, you know, so and so ate bacon every day. And you know, they lived to be 97. We all know that n equals one situation. So within that it helps to know what else then influence his perception, if it is such a huge roadblock?

I mean, think about it, guys, I’ve worked with some extraordinary coaches, people that were very, very skilled. And yet, the percept, like, there are certain athletes that didn’t I think of one coach in particular, athletes didn’t want to interact with them. I mean, you watch this individual, they did never had a warm look on their face, their arms are almost always crossed. You know, when they interacted, I don’t think I ever even saw them smile.

And so think of all this subject matter knowledge that gets wasted that that person never got to share, even if they cared which they did, you know, because nobody wanted to interact with them. So regardless, think about what else influences the perceptual process. 


Brett Bartholomew  23:54

And I hope you’ve downloaded our notes pages, because there’s a good amount of them, and they’re going to be listed for you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about. you’re a new listener, you can just go to art of reflections, and our very own Ali Kershner procures these for you. Alright, so here they go. Make sure you’re ready. Other things that influence the perceptual process, our habits, think about what are their usual responses to that stimuli? I love Halloween. My wife does not love Halloween. So I know that if I every year I asked her to go to Universal Hollywood horror nights or some other haunted house, I know that our response to that is not favorable. Right.

You might know somebody who gets defensive when their challenged. Well, why is that? You know, what about their history might lead to that? Do they blush when they’re complimented? Right? There’s motivations. Think about this. What are the person’s desires, what might be their agenda, right? You might think Alright, well, this person might be able to help me down the road, or I might be able to help them when somebody over He wants something. And don’t think of that as disingenuous. That’s the act of negotiation. 


Brett Bartholomew  25:05

People in life always need to share that when I said, humans are the preeminent social animal, and that’s why we’re at the top of the food chain. It’s because we were able to negotiate and work together better than any other species that allowed us to do this. But you have to think about that. Now I know, many of you can’t read minds, right? And you might not even be able to read your own, we can be very confusing to ourselves, which is why I encourage you to check out if you haven’t already, that can start to give you some hints, not all the answers, but hints, right? So we’ve talked about habits influence a perceptual process, a person’s motivations.

Here’s a huge one. Another one is locus of control. Am I in control of what happens to me? Was it my fault? Is it somebody else, that’s to blame. And I had a very recent experience with this. And you know, this came in the form of customer service. I was working with somebody, and in this situation, I’m hearing them talk about how somebody that they engage with is the problem, and they need to figure it out. And I started listening to the language, and it’s, you know, I, you know, I do this, but he doesn’t do that. And I do, and I’m gathering from this person that you know, and it could be true, right? You never really know.

But what I’m hearing is, I know how to run this, I know how to do that. Essentially, I’m the most competent, yet every time he was brought up. It was negative, negative, negative, negative, right? They cared about him, but it was negative. And then I remember, we went through some activities, and then we have a conversation later. And you know, they weren’t happy with kind of the results of our discussion. And I’m thinking man, like, okay, like, I really tried to kind of give you a devil’s advocate kind of view, we said, we’re going to explore a lot of different situations here. Talk to me more about this. And they just said, Well, you know, like, frankly, I just didn’t think this and I didn’t think that and you start seeing this repetition of locus of control.

You hear them blame this person in the conversation, they blame somebody else, then I’m to blame. And there’s many situations where I am to blame. I think about this all the time, generally, in my world, I’m to blame. Most of the time, I try to take extreme accountability to these things. And I know many of you do, too. 


Brett Bartholomew  27:22

But when you start hearing somebody blame somebody else all the time. That is an external locus of control. You know, at some point, you know, if I’m eating pizza, and the pizza is cold, and the waiter comes over and says, is everything good? And it’s not, but I don’t tell the waiter that it’s not. That’s my fault, because communication only fails when you stop doing it. And I’m choosing not to take accountability. And tell them no, this is not, this is not the experience that I wanted, right?

Instead, a lot of times people just go home and complain about things, and it takes next to no intelligence to complain about something. That’s the thing. And so when somebody has a almost universally external locus of control, it’s not that they’re not intelligent. There’s many and I mean, it’s that usually what you see is a lack of emotional maturity. Usually, what you see is a lack of accountability. Usually what you see is somebody else, sometimes that maybe feels like they have something to prove likely to themselves.

So there’s tremendous insecurity, and that lack of emotional maturity, that lack of accountability, and also that increase in insecurity is a huge feature of that. You know, we do something for our coalition program, when people apply that ask them a simple question, and we stole this from the voir dire process, if you’re not familiar, lawyers, during jury selection, will often ask a series of questions to those who are in the jury pool to be able to select for bias. So they might say, hey, Deborah, if you sat down in that chair, and it broke, whose fault is it? Now it’s meant to be ambiguous, right? You need to see what she says, Well, you know, I don’t know is the person who made the chair, they probably did something, you know, it’s probably whatever an old chair. That’s an external locus of control. 


Brett Bartholomew  29:19

If somebody said, Well, I mean, it’s hard to tell, but it could have been me, maybe I sat down too hard. That’s an internal locus of control. That’s somebody that takes accountability. If I say, Hey, Mark, let’s imagine you’re driving in the rain. It’s a heavy downpour, and you run into the car in front of you. Whose fault is it?

The way they explain that question will tread tell you a tremendous amount about Locus of Control it really well. They also say if you catch a cold, who’s to blame? If you’re saying well, probably, you know, I don’t know whether people sneezing whether this and that internal locus of control would say, it could be me that I wash my hands that I do this to you right, and like, sometimes it’s of course we know the answer is complex, but you’re trying to do to understand their pattern of thought, when it comes to locus of control. So again, I’m going to ask you to think about a time where you, or somebody, you know, continuously blamed external factors instead of yourself.

And for that matter, you’ll even see this play out in what we call fundamental attribution error. Imagine you are big words aside, imagine you see somebody speeding. What do we tend to do? We say, oh, that person’s crazy, or they’re reckless or whatever. We assign it to a character issue. When it’s somebody else. They’re crazy. They’re reckless, they’re stupid. Yet, how many of you have ever sped? And then think about what you said, I know, for me, I’ve been like, Oh, I’m late. Or I need to get brought into the hospital.

I remember one time he had croup where I was speeding like crazy. Because his ribs were retracting tremendously, you know, so there’s, there’s times where we, when it’s us, we assign it always a situational issue, but for other people, it’s a character issue. All right, three more aspects that can be really helpful to help you understand what impacts somebody’s perception to sort of revert, remember, think about when you did something, and it was received a completely different way. And you’re just perplexed, you’re you’re upset, you’re trying to figure out how could they have taken it as that this is what I’m trying to help you with? It could because it could be because of self awareness and their education, or other people are aware of their own judgmental tendencies, their own passive aggressive behavior, their own biases, you know, and you need to think about those pieces, right? Like you need to think about all like, it’s tough, because you can’t assign a singular moment to this.

But you want to make sure on the whole, when this person behaves this way, what am I seeing and see how that ties into habits as well, two more social background? How did experiences from their background, personal or professional, impact their viewpoints? If somebody grew up poor, and I know my father did, my father grew up really poor, that influenced a lot of his attitudes about money. I mean, in this case, it influenced his vocation, he became a stockbroker, he literally got into investments. And he had to do that at a young age. I mean, he had, he would buy his brother, he would buy a candy bar and have to split it with his brother, they’d share comics, they do all these things.

And so he taught us, you know, the value of a buck and was quick to tell us how quickly that buck could disappear if we made the wrong decisions. You know, you think of somebody we’ve had somebody on our show that was tremendously brave, that talked about previous sexual assault, well, that impacts their view of future intimate relationships. Right. So you have to think about that. 


Brett Bartholomew  32:42

And, and keep in mind, guys that our negativity bias is so impactful, so much more. So I mean, when you think about and this is a whole another subject that Roy Baumeister looks at, we remember the negative in our life far more than the positive, because the negative, there’s so many more complex emotions in that. And that ties into how we encode those memories. And I remember reading a book once on the negativity bias, and they made some excellent points.

Almost anybody would remember, you know, a traumatic thing from their childhood. Yeah, if the rest of their childhood was good, they rarely remember that amazing day at the zoo. Right, we went over another experience, if somebody had one bad sexual experience, it takes away completely, the several more they could have had that were just actual filled with bliss, and somebody they trust and love them. And whatever. 


Brett Bartholomew  33:38

All it takes is one person to give you really fierce criticism to wipe away nearly 100 compliments, because once again, with negativity, more complex motions or emotions are in play. And that impacts the encoding process. So but social background doesn’t have to be that right? It can be simply, hey, blank happened to me the last time I trusted somebody or think about if they traveled a lot as a kid, they have a different worldview that impacts everything else we’ve talked about.

And then the final one is media, social agents. What we mean by social agents is other people, right? Even storytelling, even storytelling, you know, we’re greatly impacted by the stories we’re told or told stories to the media every day, we’re told stories through Instagram. You know, one thing we talked about in our course Valued is, you know, do you remember Paul Revere? If you don’t look this up, but for those of you that do, right, did you know that two other individuals rode with him to warn people that the Redcoats were coming? Well, likely not due to how that event was depicted in the literature?

But the truth is two others rode William Dawes and Sam Prescott, but they were left out of the poem. And that poem is what made it stick because rhymes help cognitive ease and processing fluency and thus history. We, so we remember Paul Revere. So how things are framed in us how things are framed to us from media, from the story, whatever, that’s also a huge piece. And this is all again, from the research one that wasn’t mentioned in the research. But I think is pretty common sense is timing. Timing influences the perceptual process tremendously, you know, give you an example. 


Brett Bartholomew  35:22

And I’m going to try to give some less intense examples. If you wake up in the morning to the smell of coffee, because that’s also your environment, your perception is likely correct that your roommate is already awake, right? Now, you could say, oh, there’s a timer. Sure. Well, that timer is probably set to when they’re likely to wake up right around that time. And remember, the challenge in perception and human relations is that we’re not always going to understand somebody else’s perception. That’s what’s called theory of mind. And we’ll come back to that, we’ll come back to that. But just I want to make sure that we really lock this in.

In one situation of a client of ours, they perceived that their significant other was way to focus on spending time with their friends, you know, this person worked all the time. And they weren’t married. Right? They were significant others in terms of dating, and you wanted to hang out with friends when he had a chance to he loved her, of course, as well. But in this case, like, those interactions are going to be based upon the perception, right? We know you walk in the door, and you’re like, Hey, is everything okay? Because their tone of voice is different, the way they look at you is different, anything like that.

You may also perceive a co-worker to be lazy, because maybe they arrived at work at 715 in the morning, and they were supposed to be there at seven. But suppose they had a child with a medical condition, and they needed special schooling. And that school doesn’t open until seven, you know, perhaps they made arrangements with the supervisor or the boss. And you didn’t know that those perceptions can be dangerous ones, because we don’t have all of that information. 


Brett Bartholomew  36:55

Guys, you could even think about physiological needs, such as food and water or lack thereof, we get hangry. And when we are hangry, that influences how we feel about people or situations. I remember one time and I’m not proud to admit this, I was starving, my flight was delayed. And because of COVID, you know, there wasn’t much food at the airport. And I’d eaten everything on the way there. So I didn’t have much with me. And, you know, I got stopped by somebody at the airport, it happened. And he knew a friend of mine, we’re having this conversation and was a really nice person. But I was starving, I needed to go to the bathroom.

And I just remember, will this person ever shut up. And, you know, Judge me if you’d like, I think that you’ve all been in a certain situation where you don’t mean ill. But you’re just in a situation where a lot of your own selfish needs and desires have not been met, especially if you’re hungry, and how to use the restroom. It can seem like an eternity when in reality, that interaction took like, five minutes, right? So all those things, I mean, you could be on the highway, and you’d need to use the restroom. And your perception might be like, is there ever going to be a bathroom? Where are we in the middle of nowhere. So just think about these things, think about them and where you might be the issue. We’re gonna pause for a moment, right? 


Brett Bartholomew  38:13

Where this ties into a lot of the issues that we have, aside from what we mentioned, is, again, our perceptions of ourselves. If we want to improve as leaders, if you want to improve as coaches, you need to ask yourself, Where might I be the issue? Not just how might I come off? Where might I be the issue, you have to face those things.

You know, my wife was on a previous episode, a couple of previous episodes. And she’s mentioned, she doesn’t like confrontation, or at a period she didn’t she’s so much better at it now. But there was a point in our relationship where I had to be that person, you know, and it was tough for me, because even though I’m assertive, I have to be assertive in a lot of areas in my life.

And believe it or not based, irrespective of how I might come across on this podcast, when I’m not doing the podcast, when I’m not speaking when I’m not coaching, I’m pretty reclusive. So to have to be on all the time, can take a lot out of me emotionally. 


Brett Bartholomew  39:10

And so I remember there was a particular moment, when I just said, Hey, you know, you, you have this issue, you need to be the one that resolves it. I’ve been fighting a lot of battles lately. And I know that you have your own. But I think it’s better if you resolve this because it’s not always the message. It’s the messenger. And it’s going to help and you know, that I think many of you can relate to this.

Another client of ours owns a business and he had gotten a call from somebody’s wife, and said her husband, excuse me was unhappy with the service. And he was just like, well, you know, can I speak to your husband to learn a little bit more about this and she was being fairly opaque. And he’s like, how am I supposed to he talked to me later? Yes. How am I supposed to resolve this issue? You know, I can’t even get the story. 


Brett Bartholomew  39:52

And so, oftentimes, we think that just because we meant well, that, you know, we’re not to blame. And this leads to really what’s called, excuse me, the better than average effect. And the better than average effect, I would love to tell you guys, you know, that’s a perception as well, you could say, Hey, Brett, why didn’t you edit this out? The fact is, guys is that I’m trying to overcome a sinus infection. And some of these things just are what they are. So appreciate you rolling with me.

But the better than average effect is when we perceive ourselves really, to be better than average in the sense that I’m more virtuous than most people. Because I do it for the right reasons. I’m more competent, right? All that person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. And I’m more compassionate. Well, they don’t really relate to others, or they don’t relate to me as well, or relate to them as well as I could. And where I found a lot of this research was when I was trying to figure out alongside perception why certain people act the way they do, especially when it pertains to virtue signaling, or what even other forms of impression management.

And what we found is in highly competitive fields, where people are trying to differentiate themselves from others and competition, because you know, generally, that people are insecure, and they’re competing over scarce resources, they, they will start to point to these things. So that people view them in a more favorable light and are more likely to select them. 


Brett Bartholomew  41:22

I mean, this is why think about people that, you know, that engage in self enhancement, they’re always trying to pursue or maintain or augment their positive self views, right? They appraise themselves more positively than others, because it makes them feel good. And, guys, that’s a problem of why most people don’t seek assessment or evaluation, even in communication, you know, in strength and conditioning, if there was a coach, it was like, Hey, I’m not really good at teaching the clean? Or could you teach me how to put this agility drill together.

And you can use your own example from your field. But if I taught them many times, they didn’t feel bad about that, because they’re like, oh, that’s another tool in the toolbox. Yet, oftentimes, if you correct somebody in communication, or their approach or their tactic, you know, say, hey, you know, your tone was a little loud, given the context, or, Hey, you didn’t really ask that person many questions, or at least open ended questions that can start if that person is not emotionally mature, or again, based on their perception of all the other things, their locus of attention, everything else, that can seem like a personal attack.

And so a lot of times people that have this better than average effect, it’s because they have really guarded their perception of themselves against any kind of infiltration from anybody else. It’s like they don’t want, they may say they want feedback, but they really don’t, because they want to avoid or reject any kind of negative self views that might come from that feedback. And you see the interesting piece there. 


Brett Bartholomew  42:54

Because when we don’t get feedback, when we have tremendous ego involvement, that makes a critical difference in human behavior, because it really poisons our interactions. And so, hopefully, so far, this has lent more insight. And here’s kind of the concluding piece. And like I said, we could go on and on and on. And I want your guys’ feedback, you know, my goal with this is just to help you better understand, hey, like, why, you know, I can’t figure this person out what’s going on.

And so just to review a little bit, remember, most, while pretty much our baseline is always going to be miscommunication, because until somebody’s communicated with you, you don’t know what they want from you, you don’t know much about like, we have to use communication in order to avoid misunderstandings because of the minefield that is, but to avoid misunderstandings, right, people have to be aware that perception is subjective. And just review that. 


Brett Bartholomew  43:52

Remember, everything in life is going to be subjective. And to hammer that home, you know, there are people sadly that are wrongfully imprisoned. And even if they have evidence to the contrary, because they were sentenced by a jury of their peers, and those peers interpreted a lawyer’s narrative or collectively a legal team’s narrative of the way they did. Those people could take 100 lie detector test and have proof and still not get out. You know, and I know that’s upsetting for some of you. I

t would be, you know, in some ways, it was upsetting for me to you’re talking to somebody that did two unpaid internships, got their master’s degree, wrote a book did this and guess what, guys, there are still gonna be people that don’t like me, and you, and they don’t even know us. They don’t even know us. And they don’t even have a desire to get to know us. You know, and that’s their prerogative. And of course, there’s areas in our lives where we’re, we’re like that as well. And, you know, in some instances, that can mean that people are able to take something from you an opportunity, your positive self outlook.


Brett Bartholomew  45:00

 Again, and ironically, the word perception comes from the Latin word. And I’m probably gonna mispronounce this Capere, which means to take, it’s the prefix per meaning completely. So think about what that means, when we talk about that different people have different perceptions.

So the final point to wrap this in a bow, when we think about this idea that as Roger Shepard said, in 1929, perception is essentially externally guided hallucination. I mean, we see it with from ads, we see it in our life experiences, we see it all over us. There’s all these things that we perceive and input. This impacts theory of mind, which is another core construct to great communication. A

nd all you need to know about theory of mind, guys, is it is our ability to attribute people’s beliefs, their intense desires, emotions, all these things to oneself, and have the understanding that other people have completely different beliefs, desires, intentions and perspectives. 


Brett Bartholomew  46:01

So in essence, you know, when we think about that, people who have not developed strong theory of mind really struggle to understand why people do and say what they do. Why would they say that I have these conversations a lot with my mom. And I have to say, Mom, you know, think about a time where you were this way, but that’s what’s really hard, it’s hard to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Which shameless plug guys, again, is why we do role playing.

And I tell Ali all the time, you know, what the really sad thing is Ali , is the people that need our workshops, the most will never come to them. Because of the better than average effect, they already think that they’re good at it, or at the very least, they don’t think they need it. And that’s what’s tricky. I mean, you could look at other things too, right? The people that need certain health related information, or, you know, they’re trying to figure out how to, maybe they need to be more active. A lot of these people aren’t even seeking out that stuff. I mean, this is why information and logic alone does not change behavior.

Because you have to develop a need in that other person’s mind, they have to be actual, actually curious. They have to want to fail to learn and to grow. And they don’t always want to. So people that haven’t developed strong theory of mind also struggled to have conversations. And they do and remember, theory of mind isn’t something that it’s not like what we’ve talked about in the past, like the prefrontal cortex, where, generally by 25, it’s developed, right, as long as that person is devoid of any kind of developmental issue. 


Brett Bartholomew  47:32

Not everybody develops strong theory of mind. Now, typically, we see it in children around four to five. But that’s another rabbit hole. So let me just finish this. People that struggle with theory of mind also have trouble telling a story again, because they don’t know what’s engaging other people because they’re so self centric. They’re very self centric, communicators, and not audience centric.

And because of this, they struggled to create social connections, they might have failed businesses, they might feel like, I don’t know what to say, to sell myself and I say, quit thinking about selling yourself, think about relating to others, right, you have to sell yourself every day, I can wake up and get through this obstacle, I can make it through this workout, I could totally get that job. And that raise, I could get that girl or that guy or I could, you know, whatever, we always have to sell ourselves on that. And then they also fail to engage in pretend play.

It is no coincidence that the majority of people that come to our workshops are individuals that I remember one of the best firefighter, we’ve had people from a wide variety of other more mature professions. And what I mean by mature professions is they’ve either been around longer, those professions are more well established, or they’re people that have been through a lot of different life experiences.

I think I’ve told this story before, but when a strength coach once attended, they really had trouble with the role playing an improv, the firefighter and another person in the medical profession at a different location didn’t. And I remember that coach asked, like, why can you like, how do you do this? This feels so weird to me. And he said, Listen, man, life is improv in my profession. And that’s huge. Like, you’ve got to disconnect from the literal, if you want to be able to think laterally. And people have a horrendous time doing that. And that is why they struggle in leadership today. All right. 


Brett Bartholomew  49:25

So theory of mind really develops in children, like I said, at around four to five. And to consolidate it, just remember, people want different things than you and to get what they want. They’re going to act in different ways. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It means that you perceive it one way, they perceive it another and you have to use skilled interpersonal communication to bridge that gap if you want to lead them. I’m sorry if you want to be a leader, you do not just get the opportunity to say that person’s difficult, that person’s entitled. You have to develop Theory of Mind.

Remember, people will have different, but potentially true beliefs about the same thing, guys, there are so many people, you have to be very careful about people that say they’ve figured it out or they have the answer. I mean, think of all the absurd things. We used to believe in human history. You know, we live during a time of intense sterilization now, but it wasn’t that long ago. I mean, you’re talking about like the the late 1800s, when doctors wore dark black frock coats, and instead of the sterile coats and places we see today, it was actually believed that the more blood and viscera you had on your coat as a doctor, the more successful you were because you had a healthy practice, you were busy, yet that led to tremendous cross contamination, especially in the case of child bed fever outbreak, and the story we’ve told in the past about Ignaz Semmelweis, but for a while, like, literally, that’s what people believed. And the medical profession is rife with this. Right, they used to give people laudanum, they used to believe them bloodletting read this read about Abraham Lincoln’s medical treatments, it was tremendous.

So is it that much of a stretch, to realize that your opinion on whatever topic might be contentious to somebody else? Right, even if something’s been proven to be false, you have to remember meaning is not in words, it is in people. It is in people. Right?


Brett Bartholomew  51:29

So aside from all this, guys, I think the other thing is, you have to understand part of theory of mind is also people can feel a different emotion from the ones that they display. Now we could get into personality disorders, we could get into things like psychopathy, and all that. That is really lends itself to certain people with intensive personality disorders are very good at mimicking complex emotions of others without demonstrating their own. But it’s not just that they’re very well adjusted people that go that are able to do this as well. And that has to do with how they perceive and interpret and listen and take in their environment.

I remember reading the book will by Will Smith recently. And he talks about because of part of his upbringing, which that goes back to one of our previous mentions, right social background influences perception, you know, just watching his mother and father interact and watching some of the fights they had, he goes, I took everything in, I felt everything. And I was able to mimic and, and utilize a wide range of complex emotions, because I was surrounded by the demonstration of them every day.

And by and large, he said that that’s a huge part of what he owes, his success is being incredibly in tune with people. And when I’m introspective about myself, I see the same thing. You know, I don’t know if I have this gift anymore. I’m sure many of the people that trained would say, I don’t. 


Brett Bartholomew  52:50

But for a long time, I was always that guy at parties in college or anything else that I would know, when the music needed to change. I would know when another song needed to come on when the tempo and something needed to be switched up. And I wondered to myself, I thought, you know, when my parents were divorced, are there times where there was tension in the household? And I tried to make things calmer, easier, like what was that?

And I had a talk with a very good friend lately that said that he definitely grew up as a people pleaser. He’s like, you know, listen, I came from a completely different country. And it was evident by the color of my skin that I was not from here, and I didn’t fit in. And I was just thrown into, you know, my childhood, like he grew up in Boston, and later on, I don’t think it was a childhood. I’m sorry, I think he was a teenager at that point.

But he’s like, I wanted to draw so much attention away from the fact that I was an immigrant, that I would just be the consummate people pleaser, right? I just want to get out in front of it, I pay for meals, I do this, I’d be the class clown, I do whatever it took just to draw attention away from the color of my skin and the fact that I was an outsider. So I’ve given you guys a lot to think about here. Perception is a really deep topic. It is a really deep topic. And remember.


Brett Bartholomew  54:09

Yeah, I mean, I think I’ve said it all. This is one of the number one factors that impacts skilled interpersonal communication. If you took nothing else from this, I want it to be these two questions because introspection helps with communication.

Ask yourself, how might I be coming across whether you agree with it or not? And also ask yourself, Where might I be the problem within this interaction?

Because then that allows you to engage in thoughtful and skillful communication, which is defined as the ability to share ideas, thoughts and feelings in commonly comprehensible ways. And while that might be hard, because what you think in your head, what you want to say, what you actually say, is going to be different than what is received, which is why communication itself is an ongoing process that needs to be practiced, iterated and refined. 


Brett Bartholomew  55:10

The question is, are you mature enough, and I mean this lovingly but also with a sense of conviction, to humble yourself and understand that you, me, none of us when it comes to communication is a finished product. For one little bit of bonus reading, I highly, highly encourage you and this will be linked in the show notes. It is one of the most impactful stories I’ve ever heard.

We talked about it in our workshop. It is a story and it is from a previously redacted article. And it is called Mokusatsu: One word, two lessons. And it is a famous story about an utterance and interaction that happened during World War Two, that will lead to one of the most catastrophic events in human history, all because of a miscommunication in part due to a misperception. 


Brett Bartholomew  56:08

Guys, Brett Bartholomew, Art Of Coaching podcast if this stuff interests you, which I hope it does, because poor communication will impact every part of your life. And it’s hard to know if you’re as good as you could be. Please check us out at

Better yet come to one of our apprenticeships it is a welcoming environment. We work together. Nobody is a judge. This is not for introverts. This is for anybody who feels like I am tired of trying to figure other people out and feeling like I don’t know where I’m the problem. And I just want to make more progress in my personal and professional life and have Less drama, more efficiency and better relationships. I certainly hope that’s you, and I can’t wait to meet you.

Until next time, the Art Of Coaching podcast. Talk to you soon.

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