You See What You Expect

Parents, teachers—really anyone— find what they expect.

A man pulled into a gas station on the outskirts of town. As he filled his tank, he remarked to the attendant, “I’ve just accepted a job in town. I’ve never been to this part of the country. What are people like here?

“What are people like where you came from?” the attendant asked.

“Not so nice,” the man replied. “In fact, they can be quite rude.”

The attendant shook his head. “Well, I’m afraid you’ll find the people in this town to be the same way.”

Just then another car pulled into the station. “Excuse me,” the driver called out. “I’m on my way into town. I’m just moving to the area. Is it nice here?”

“Was it nice where you came from?” the attendant inquired.

“Oh yes! I came from a  great place. The people were friendly and I hated to leave.”

“Well, you’ll find the same true of this town.”


I traveled to New York City very often were I worked with schools in Upper Manhattan and Harlem. Before I started to travel to the Big Apple on a regular basis a few years ago, I had heard that people there were rude, abrupt, and not very friendly.

You probably know by now that my neural connections have been established to the point that—before I react—I reflect. In this situation, my self talk was “How can I turn this into a positive by finding New Yorkers nice?” And I did! I found  New Yorkers friendly, conversational, and delightful.

Myron Tribus, a renowned expert on improving quality, put it aptly when he said, “There is no such thing as immaculate perception. What you see depends upon what you thought before you looked. I looked through a positive perspective and found people as I hoped I would.