Reality testing relates to how well one can remain objective about what is going on in the world around them. Example will a person be able to recognize when emotions or personal bias influence their objectivity or acknowledge the situation for what it is. Being able to recognise it both in themselves and in others.
Someone who is able to see how their emotions influence their subjectivity to reality can be said to fall into the higher range of reality testing. Someone who fails to see a situation for what it is, may score lower in the range of reality testing.
There is a difference between looking for a silver lining, and someone who might be either over optimistic or over pessimistic.
“Humans see what they want to see.” – Rick Riordan
Higher Range vs Lower Range Of Reality Testing
Those who fall in the higher range of reality testing generally have a well-adjusted and grounded understanding of the world around them. They tend to:
• Stay in the here and now, rather than tune out and daydream about what it could be.
• Make accurate assessments of situations.
• Make decisions based on factual evidence as it is presented.
• Are aware of their environment and life conditions. Keeping things in perspective.
• Understand that emotions may impact how they perceive a situation.
• They can manage their feelings and emotions appropriately when making decisions.
Someone who measures in the lower range of reality testing may not always have a grounded view of reality. They could potentially:
• Tune out of their current reality and only see things from one point of view.
• May see things how they wish to rather than how they actually are.
• Make decisions based primarily on their emotions and thought patterns.
• Be impractical or set unrealistic goals.
Impact In The Workplace
Can you think of someone who always takes anything that happens as a sign that things are going to go wrong? Or maybe someone who will only leave 5 minutes to get to an appointment that is 30 minutes away. Thinking that everything will be ok, and they will get there on time?
The ability of staff and leadership to make realistic decisions will have a big impact on how successful an organization can be. Unrealistic decisions are likely to result in greater failures hindering the overall progress for a business.
Those who are higher in reality testing are likely to:
• Know what is expected from them and their job role.
• Be able to separate their emotional and personal difficulties from their behaviour and decision making.
• Have a good understanding of their own abilities.
• Less likely to overreact to difficult situations or underestimate challenges.
• Understand that their perspective may be different from that of their colleagues and take this into account. Looking at all the facts.
Staff who score in the lower range of reality testing could potentially:
• Allow their emotional state to interfere with how they perceive their work and colleagues. Example, not accepting and implementing a good idea from someone else that they don’t like.
• Have an unrealistic understanding of their abilities and what they are capable of doing. Possible taking on more than they can handle.
• Overreact to difficult situations as they see the world as falling down around them, rather than simply dealing with the issue at hand as it is.
• They might over promise or misrepresent what the company or its products can do for the clients.
• Struggle to interpret their role within their team or any direction from leadership. Not knowing the boundaries.
• Potential bullying or make undesired sexual advances.
“It is hard to know the objective truth of situations. Each of us sees only one side (our own) of every interaction. Reality is often more complex than our simple senses are capable of appreciating.” – Harry Mills, PhD
Impact In Leadership
Leaders that fall in the higher range of reality testing are likely to have the ability to play devil’s advocate. Being able to take ideas and see them from multiple points of view. Imagining what might both go right, as well as potential problems that may arise.
They can understand the perspective of their staff and don’t just get caught up in their own feeling or point of view. They will set challenging yet achievable goals for the team. They are also better at finding balance between ambition and the reality of the task at hand. They are more open to seeing if they have all the information available before making a well-thought-out decision. They will also understand the risks of taking certain decisions and whether the risks are worthwhile.
Leaders who fall in the lower range of reality testing, may struggle to see the perspectives of others. Only approaching a situation in their own way regardless of how it impacts their staff. The Frank Sinatra song comes to mind, “I did it my way.”
They may set unrealistic goals that set themselves or their team up for failure. Example a sales manager who expects to capture 50% of the marketplace within 30 days, with their brand new, untested widget. Whilst there is an industry leader who already captures 90% of the market with a tried and tested alternative. This can be demoralizing for staff and can ultimately affect the progress of the organization.
They may also struggle to see how their emotional state can affect their ability to make decisions. Imagine the following example. A leader who is panicked by a situation at work, may make a bad decision based in fear. A knee jerk reaction so to speak. Rather than considering the risks or other potential repercussions of their decisions, they act and create further problems. Or they unconsciously project their own limitations on to their team. Instead of taking time to evaluate the situation and potentially seeing it as an opportunity to pivot or grow.
Can Someone’s Reality Testing Be Improved?
Sometimes it takes the ability to think ‘outside of the box’ to make good progress for an organization. If a leader is “too” grounded in reality, they may struggle to visualize possibilities and solutions that are productive. Dreamers have created some of the most extraordinary inventions in our world. We need dreamers. We just need them in the right places. It can sometimes be difficult to find the balance between safe decisions and risk-taking.
Taking an emotional intelligence assessment is the first step in improving reality testing. We offer a fabulous EI assessment, with a 2 hour follow up coaching session to help understand where someone may be in each area of their emotional intelligence.
Optionally, there are follow up coaching sessions available to work towards improving their emotional intelligence in the key areas. This is majorly beneficial for the individual and the organization as a whole.
To find out more about how your organization can benefit, contact us today for a no-obligation conversation.