Preferences is a natural way to determine differences between people. The filter we’ll use to define these preferences determines how we’ll group people, eventually coming to a personality type model. The Process Communication Model (PCM), for example, uses how people communicate to determine a set of preferences used to describe 6 different stereotypes. I’m using the word stereotype on purpose as the personality types they describe are pure types. It’s a model and thus only an approximation of reality and people we encounter. This comes partly from the fact, that according to the model, everyone has more or less access to all six stereotypes. Thus all six also influence each other depending on the one being preferred. What matters is that the 6 types help to gain a better understanding on differences in communication habits.
One of the concepts Taibi Kahler defined in PCM is perception. He explained that everyone views the world around them in at least 6 different ways, may it be through their Perceptions of Thoughts, Feelings, Opinions, Reflections, Actions or Reactions.
Using thought as perception means to look for facts while seeking to identify and categorize people and things. Opinion is a perception valuing trust, thus it requires to evaluate people and situations through a belief system. Both thoughts and opinions are linked to processing information through thinking.
When feelings are the way we view the world it will be based on valuing relationships and uses feelings about people and situations. Here it is sensory information which is are being processed through feelings.
A third group of perceptions is based on behaviors and gives preference to three variants of experience. Reflections are there to reflect on what is happening and seek to discover directions. Experience situations and making things happen is how action as perception helps to perceive the world and value initiative. Reaction, on the other hand, seeks to value fun. Using this perception means to react to people with likes and dislikes.
How does this work for example with making spontaneous decisions? There is a high probability that those using a perception based on reflection, thoughts or opinions will need more time than others. There is more information to process for them and the brain is slower than feelings. The decision will be quickly settled if the person sees logic confirmed, there is a clear connection with values or if the person feels comfortable with the decision. The fastest decisions will happen when a like or dislike can be expressed or if an opportunity allows for an initiative.
This isn’t a recipe to make things happen. What it helps to do is to grasp the decisions and how it is achieved.
Just as with learning styles, different perceptions will be useful depending on the context. Training to use the different perceptions depending on the situation allows to be more flexible and more effective. It does require a lot of practice though as some perceptions can be blind spots for individuals.