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  • Writer's pictureshiv kumar

Through The Filter

A recent conversation with one of my clients centred around the problems between her and her boss. She said that her boss was arrogant and displayed dictatorial traits of “his way or the highway”. The boss was also quick to claim credit when things went well and blame others when things didn’t go well.

What’s your first thought you interact with someone that is too full of themselves?

Think of an arrogant boss that you might have worked with (I’ve used the past tense here in the hope that you’re not having to deal with one currently!).

Your natural reaction might be “what do they think of themselves?”, right?

The know-it-all, the condescending, the arrogant…whatever kind of person they might be - do you think they are unaware of how they come across to others? Or do you think they know but couldn’t care less?

I tend to think the answer is more often the former than the latter. Surely no one sets out to be a pain in the you-know-where!


We perceive our reality through our own mental filters, filters that have been formed by our beliefs and values, previous experiences, what we’ve heard, what we’ve learned, etc.

Through the mental filter of the arrogant boss, everyone else is wrong and only they are right. Without any new learning, their mental filter continues to present reality the way they wish to see it – a confirmation bias that makes them subconsciously search, select and interpret information to support their existing attitudes.

Scientist and philosopher Alfred Korzybski said, “The map is not the territory” implying that there is no common or real version of reality. Perception comes in between reality and ourselves.

Just as the basis of any successful communication is being able to understand the other person’s point of view, the basis of any successful relationship could well come down to being able to accept that each person has their own sense of reality.


I recall a discussion I had with my son a while ago when I was in his car. I suggested to him that listening to heavy metal and rap while driving to work wasn’t likely to put him in the best possible mood for the day ahead. He argued that he enjoyed that genre of music and therefore it had the same effect on him that my choice of music had on me. I was so sure of the damaging effects of headbanging loud music that I did some quick online research to prove my point, only to find out that his argument was valid! 😊

Brain scans reveal that our brain can filter information according to moods and habits. The same event can trigger different responses in different people and thereby create different realities. Is it any wonder then that sometimes what we may consider trivial could cause quite a stir for someone else?

Two people stuck in the same traffic jam can have varying responses. One could get angry, annoyed, and frustrated while the other might enjoy the additional time in their car listening to their favourite music, podcast, or audiobook.

Job losses in a company due to restructuring or downsizing could bring out different emotions for two employees. One could see it as a crushing blow, leading to anger, disappointment, and depression while the other could see it as an opportunity to do something different, bringing with it feelings of excitement and curiosity.

Getting back to my client and her boss, we discussed a few action plans that she could experiment with and we plan to go over the results in our sessions. I’m keen to see how things pan out after we brainstormed about perceptions, realities, and filters!

There is a worldwide statistic that over 70% of employees do not leave their jobs, they leave their bosses. But the option of moving to another job isn’t always readily available. Sometimes one just has to find a way to co-exist!

If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to my client’s and you weren’t in a position to have an immediate exit strategy, how did you deal with continuing to work in your job without pulling your hair out in frustration? 😉

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