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Perception in Public Administration

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Iberkis Faltas
August 4, 2020

Emotional intelligence has been one of the fastest growing conceptualizations in social science since the 1990s. Research shows the scientific development of emotional intelligence as a tool to drive thinking, behavior and performance is an essential skill. In the world we are currently living in—a multigenerational environment, a society currently affected by socioeconomic and sociopolitical changes, a pandemic and a workplace culture moving forward to embrace virtual workplaces environments—emotional intelligence is a set of skills essential to dealing with uncertainty and changes

Public administrators are civil service employees working for the public. They are employed by the government of the Unites States; local, state, or federal government. For the most part, their salary is paid by taxpayers’ money. Because of the nature of public service employment, public servants’ behavior and actions are frequently and closely scrutinized by the public, and more so as public servants moved into virtual environments.

How can public servants manage the stress and pressure of dealing with the public scrutiny in a new virtual workplace? The answer should be simple: do what is right, honorable and ethically appropriate for the public. However, the problem of doing what is right, honorable and ethically appropriate for the public and the community is that it relies on human proficiencies that are extremely subjective to the perception of each individual.

The problem with perception is that it is a cognitive trait in which a human mind is set on a conscious state based on events that induce a perceptual awareness. This type of behavior is also related to cultural and situational behavior. In emotional intelligence, one’s perception is deeply influenced by the information found in our environment. The way we perceive that information, and the way we accurately identify such information has the greatest impact on the way we use that information to communicate with others, make decisions and solve problems. Likewise, that information is essential when right, honorable and ethically appropriate. Information is subjective and that subjectivity is open to the interpretation of one’s perception.

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For a public service servant, to do what is right by the general and consensual law of social behavior, rather than by one’s perception, it takes transparency, awareness and adaptability. Doing what is right, honorable and ethically appropriate has nothing to do with one’s perception. Those are proficiencies cognitively attached to transparency and awareness. Those are proficiencies closely related to openness relating to other people, the things we do and the little efforts of making a good impression under one person’s perception. Those are proficiencies that make you invisible to certain compromising situations, as one will not hide behind other’s wrongful and inappropriate actions. “Transparency is normally defined as the thesis that reflection on, or introspection of, what it is like to have an experience does not reveal that we are aware of experiences themselves, but only of their mind-independent objects.”

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Awareness is the perception and knowledge of an action that generates some form of information. Awareness is the accurate, “Reportability of something perceived or known widely used as a behavioral index of conscious awareness.” It is this awareness that give us the perceptual acceptance of experience. It gives us a, “Perceptual awareness of ordinary mind-independent objects.” In emotional intelligence, awareness involves recognizing and understanding our environment. Awareness is the ability to perceive, understand and differentiate between subtleties of our own perception, the reality of the world around us. Awareness involves putting your perception on the side, while being aware of the transparency of the information, the source of information and the impact that the information has in our actions. It is the ability to recognize and understand what is right, honorable and ethically appropriate for all members of our society equally, impartially and correspondingly.

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Adapting to radical social changes takes time. Learning how to do what is right, honorable and ethically appropriate, even in a virtual environment, takes longer. It takes learning to differentiate and set apart the cognitive difference of one’s perception, and the reality of the facts, even when one does not agree with such facts, “For we think of an illusion as any perceptual situation in which a physical object is actually perceived, but in which that object perceptually appears other than it really is.”


Author:
Iberkis Faltas
Public Policy and Administration
Management & Leadership | Law and Policy
Emotional Intelligence Psychometrician.
Social Media:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/iberkisfaltas/
Instagram: @emotionalintelligence4

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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