Reality Testing

“If a person continues to see only giants, it means he is still looking at the world through the eyes of a child.”

— Anais Nin

The emotional competency Reality Testing is understanding and reacting to the way things are rather than responding to the way you wish, fear, imagine or assume them to be. Reality Testing depends on acknowledging that what we think is reality is often our opinion, based on our experiences and views about life rather than a concrete reality. Peter Senge and others describe how most individuals build a mental model of how the world works and think that it is reality. While such mental models or understandings of how the world works help us function, we need to remember that people with different experiences and backgrounds can have very different mental models. In any case, using good inquiry skills and having a willingness to check out assumptions with others is important to successful Reality Testing. Also important is grounding your perceptions in facts from various sources and points of view. Knowing yourself and understanding how your emotions affect your perceptions is important homework for successful Reality Testing.

Reality Testing can be learned, and developed by following the tips like these from

If you or someone with whom you work exhibit these behaviors, seeking the advice and tips at provides a quick remedy:

  • A strong need to defend your opinions and beliefs regardless of what other think or say
  • Poor ability to notice nonverbal behavior and interpersonal dynamics
  • Being self-absorbed because of fears and personal issues
  • Lack of curiosity
  • Being resistant to new information
  • Emotionally volatile or reactive

Action learning tips and learning assignments on the job are a click away at

You might also consider (a sampling of suggestions from

Dyer, Wayne. Excuses Begone! How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2009.

Ellis, Albert, and Robert A. Harper. A Guide to Rational Living. Chatsworth, CA: Wilshire, 1997.

Jacobs, Charles S. Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons From the Latest Brain Science. London: Portfolio, 2009.

Jeffers, Susan. Feel the Fear οΎ‰ and Do It Anyway. New York: Ballantine, 2006.

Pearman, Roger R. Understanding Emotions. Winston-Salem, NC: Leadership Performance Systems, 2007.

Senge, Peter. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Broadway Business, 2006.

Smalley, Susan, and Diana Winston. Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness. Philadelphia: Perseus Books Group, 2010.

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