It is true that we don’t see with our eyes as much as with our brain. Sure the eyes capture the photons – but it is in the brain that we actually do the seeing – largely based on what we are looking for.
If you need proof, try this. NB you will need to hear the soundtrack!
Our ‘findings really do follow our seekings’, and our brain only lets us see what makes sense in the context.
This is especially important when we start to form opinions about people or projects. If we believe that they are good – then all we will see is the good stuff (as our subconscious filters aout what does not fit in with our pre-conceived ideas). If on the other hand we think that people are bad or lazy then all we wil tend to see is the behaviour that serves to confirm our beliefs.
Learning to observe and feedback on a range of work behaviours in a non judgemental, non-evaluative way is a key skill for the effective manager. BTW there is some evidence that women in general tend to be more open to ‘peripheral’ stuff, to pick up on the background and make more sense of it than men. I wonder if there are gender differences in spotting the dancing bear!