One of the first things salespeople learn is that perceptions are reality. And the same goes for project managers.
Your perceptions and your reality may differ, but if you want to communicate effectively with someone you need to understand their version of the truth.
Perceptions are also closely aligned with expectations. If a stakeholder perceives an organization as unresponsive and inefficient they will expect bad service. From this starting point, the stakeholder will readily accept as true every experience that contradicts their view of the world. A good experience can be written off as "the exception that proves the rule."
This presents a distinct challenge to project managers who are developing a communication plan. Your stakeholder's perceptions of project management will be based on prior experience with other projects in other times and even other organizations.
This is neither fair nor reasonable but it is a fact!
The situation is made worse by another trait: our tendency to feel and remember bad experiences more strongly than good ones.
Where negative attitudes occur, your solution is basically hard work. You need to assess the current attitude of your key stakeholders, determine the optimum attitude and then work to improve the stakeholder's perceptions of your project.
There are three key elements to consider when working to change poor perceptions.
1. Build rapport and open communication channels that will be effective. You may need help from supportive stakeholders to achieve this.
2. Build your credibility by providing accurate, timely and useful information that precisely meets the needs of the stakeholder. Help them to be successful.
3. Whenever possible, differentiate your current project from the person's previous negative experiences.
The bad news is one slip and you immediately reinforce the old perceptions. So stay focused and ensure every communication, authentic and credible.