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Life Coaching
Why Don't "They" See Things the Way I Do? - How Perceptual Style Theory Helps Us Understand Social Differences
By Lynda-Ross Vega and Gary Jordan, Ph.D. 
Jul 29, 2010, 11:48

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Have you ever been in a disagreement with someone and felt that you were living on entirely different planets and experiencing an entirely different event? We’ve all been there, attempting to prove our point and convince someone that we are “right,” with no success.  The trouble is often times we really HAVE experienced a situation or event differently.  This is because of a difference in Perceptual Style.


Perceptual Style is the way you take in information through your five senses and make that information meaningful to you. Your Perceptual Style acts as a filter between sensation and understanding. It is at the core of who you are, and it impacts your values, your beliefs, your feelings, and your psychology.


Each of us has one of six unique Perceptual Styles that is innate.  Our individual Perceptual Styles are literally hard wired and have grown with us as we’ve aged and developed. The decisions you make, the actions you take, and the directions you choose, are all influenced by your Perceptual Style.  This is because our Perceptual Style defines our reality.


We often assume there is one objective reality that everyone is more or less aware of or that there is an absolute “right.”  Research implies that not only is that untrue, but perception is actually a filter applied to objective reality, resulting in natural differences between people.


It is because of our varying Perceptual Styles that we all experience a different reality. Here is a brief look at the six Perceptual Styles (presented in alphabetical order):


Activity: People with the Activity Perceptual Style jump into life with both feet. They fully engage with the confidence that the details will sort themselves out. Direction, ideas, and pursuits emerge as the result of constant action and involvement with others and their surroundings. They engage until some new possibility or interest emerges to capture their attention. They cultivate extensive networks of friends and associates.


Adjustments: People with the Adjustments Perceptual Style see the world as an objective reality that can be known if they take the time to gather complete information about its intricacies and complexities. They pursue the acquisition and application of knowledge as the basis for their life experience. They enjoy sharing their knowledge with others and gathering new information from research or conversation. They have a strong sense of diplomacy and project a calm certainty.


Flow:  People with the Flow Perceptual Style are instinctive advocates for the natural rhythms of life. They see the complex connectivity among seemingly unrelated people, environments, and situations. They intuitively integrate and harmonize their actions within a broadly defined community that provides them and others with a sense of belonging. They honor the continuity between past, present, and future.


Goals: People with the Goals Perceptual Style stride through life focused on the accomplishment of specific results and well-defined objectives. They experience a sense of urgency and clarity of purpose. They believe achievement is primary and method or process secondary – the end justifies the means. They evaluate all activities based on possible contribution towards the achievement of the results they expect. They thrive on competition and believe that life is a constant competition with winners and losers.


Methods: People with the Methods Perceptual Style approach life in a practical, matter-of-fact manner. They focus on how things need to be done. They believe that ordered processes, properly followed, will produce the desired results. They will discern the best process or technique to apply to any specific situation in order to produce reliable, repeatable outcomes. They impose order and they believe that everyone prefers to use well known and proven methods. 


Vision: People with the Vision Perceptual Style approach life as a singular experience, a journey toward the future. They face the realities of a situation with serious intent and with an optimistic perspective that a solution will be found and confidence that if one is not, there are always other alternatives to explore. They intuitively see new directions and actions are taken or dropped opportunistically based on a sense of future possibilities and potential. They are highly persuasive and easily convince others to follow their vision.


All six Perceptual Styles provide distinctly different experiences of the world.  These differences result in a profound psychological and perceptual diversity that is the most important diversity there is because it helps explain the differences between people. 


The six Perceptual Styles together describe the total range of perceptual reality. However, individually each Perceptual Style has access to only 1/6 of the total.  Everyone has one Perceptual Style that is innate and unchanging.  All six Perceptual Styles are evenly distributed in the world, and research confirms there is no difference in regards to culture, race, gender, or age. All six have unique strengths and challenges.






Lynda-Ross Vega: A partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., Lynda-Ross specializes in helping entrepreneurs and coaches build dynamite teams and systems that WORK. She is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. For free information on how to succeed as an entrepreneur or coach, create a thriving business and build your bottom line doing more of what you love, visit

Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 27 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley.  He is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. He’s a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., a consulting firm that specializes in helping people discover their true skills and talents:

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