The map is not territory

Article by EU Academy

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A successful job interview is not an exact science. On the one hand, the candidacy rests on the ability to communicate how the skills and experiences have prepared one for success in the role. On the other, it also depends a lot on the chemistry with the interviewers and whether or not they think the candidate (and his/her personality) would be a good fit for their team and company culture.

In essence a good interview often comes down to “likeability” and if we are able to establish a good connection with the interviewer(s). More often than not, they are evaluating the candidates not just as walking set of skills or experiences, but as a potential future colleagues, team members, and, why not, future friends.

The first important principle to remember when it comes to making a good connection with others – let’s say an interviewer for the sake of this article, and set oneself apart as a more memorable, likeable candidate – is “The map is not territory”.

“The map is not territory” is one of the fundamental principles of Neuro Linguistic Programming that is gaining more and more popularity. This concept is not exactly new and comes from the work of the philosopher Alfred Korzybski “Science and Sanity”, originally published in 1933.

“The map is not territory” sends us directly to our perceptions of reality, which means that everyone perceives reality in a personal way, according to beliefs, values, experiences, conclusions, decisions and other internal mental aspects related to how we see the world and how we relate to the universe. Thus, all this filters influence our perception of the outside, forming a mental map of reality. Our maps contain elements of the present (Now and Here), the past (Memory) and the future (Imagination). So we have two levels of phenomena – the outer reality and the inner, subjective reality.

Among the elements that form the mental map, the first role, which proves to be very important, is played by the five senses through which we experience reality: VAKOG or visual, auditory, kinesthetic (emotions and feelings), olfactory and gustatory. Our senses cannot gather all the information from the outside, for example, we cannot hear the full range of sounds. This means that the map or model we build in our minds about what is outside of us will in reality always be limited because we do not have complete information.

Secondly, we are limited by the amount of information we can get in a given period of time. We may be aware of 7 +/- 2 elements / factors at a time, while being bombarded with millions of bits of information. This limitation affects our ability to create a complete view of reality.

Last but not least, we have personal filters, such as culture, past experiences, media, beliefs, values, teachers, parents, etc. which retain the necessary information, the rest being deleted, distorted and generalized.

In other words, we perceive the territory (which is our world and our environment) through the senses, then process the information by comparing it with past experiences, which leads to a mental perception of the reality according to which we act.

These maps determine our behavior.

Therefore it is highly important to remember this principle particularly when attempting to communicate with others.  We are more likely to achieve rapport or a good connection quickly when meeting someone for the first time if we recognise this important truth and work with it.

It is very easy to believe the other person is being awkward or naive or just rigid when the only difference between us is our internal map. So if you wish to get on with somebody or have to negotiate, your time is well spent if you use some of it to understand them and their perception of the world. If you can get an insight into their map, see things through their eyes, hear things through their ears, you are on your way to getting their confidence and achieving the result you desire. You don’t have to agree with their point of view or even like it. But it makes any form of communication easier.

Successful interactions depend largely on our ability to establish and maintain rapport. Surprisingly, we make most personal and business decisions based on rapport rather than technical merit. We are more likely to agree with, buy from or support someone we can relate to than someone we can’t. Have you ever had the experience of being deeply understood by another person who seems to be “on the same page”? My guess is that if you have, then there is a tendency to like that person because they seem to understand you unlike other people.

Whether you are applying for a job as a junior clerk or a manager, you need to understand the business.  Almost all decent employers are present online these days.  Check them out and figure out their map of reality. The knowledge you gain will help you establish a relationship marked by agreement, alignment, likeness or similarity.

Establishing a connection based on another person’s reality, so that they get the sense that you are with them wherever they are in the world, create an open, connective space you can facilitate real change and achieve your goals.

How to read the map and translate it into actual territory is one of the communication tools we are developing for the Creative Mentor for Employability as part of the Master the Act project.

So stay tunned for following articles and events!

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