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Perceptive Thinking and Prerogative Skills
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 05/25/2015

Perception We tend to forget that we as humans, have the reserved right to change our minds. The reasons for changing one’s mind can be many and complex in nature but irrespective, we have that right and should not be criticized for doing so.

It should be become a mandatory and not so difficult process to understand but always an option left open to rectify any mistaken calculations or decisions made in the past. The best way to recognize the rationality to change your mind is to review your thoughts and beliefs on the original concept you perceived or understood.

Hence we should always take this opportunity to take better control of ourselves, our emotions and our thoughts when the opportunity presents itself. During this practice, we are sorting out the filters we put in place to further clarify what was once our original thought and compare it to the new information received by filtering the distorted messages and information.

This is not a sign of weakness or an indicator there something wrong with your thought process or decision making mechanisms. Rather, it demonstrates a deliberate attempt to sort out the facts from the formerly attained perceptions and make the appropriate adjustments needed as the situation warrants them to be revised or amended.

So how do we breakdown our original perception and what do we need to do in order to re-visit or re-structure our thinking manner. We need to admit that there may be flaws with the way we perceived the problem to exist when approached with it at the beginning.

Some human errors are:

We tend to make simple or quick decisions by over-generalizing things that we are addressing or dealing with at the time of making the decision. This is a flaw that can be corrected by taking the time to become more detail specific and find out what went wrong or would could go wrong with your analysis based on your first impression.

Guilty of this at times myself, we tend to assume (yes, I know) that we know what the other person is thinking and jump to conclusions using this “mind-reading” trick instead of confirming what they are really thinking out loud. The “proof is in the pudding” when they express their ideas, desires or wants. Listening skills are vital at this juncture of the problem solving game.

We are all guilty of envisioning the “sky is falling” mentality where we catastrophize something more than it really is. Blowing things out of proportion or exaggerating is a human flaw we need to be aware of at all times. Expecting a doomsday scenario shuts down any positivity in your experience and could cause your perception to wander in the wrong direction.

We tend to lean heavily on the “lessons learned” syndrome where we anticipate the outcome or result based on previous events or experiences. Just like jumping to conclusions or mind-reading you are now engaged in fortune telling without any basis to do so.

There are no concrete facts or evidence to guide your thinking and most of the time, this kind of behavior is negative and destructive in nature. So how do we prevent making these basic yet important mistakes? How do we recognize specific behaviors and learn how to re-address your energies to the positive flow of things so you don’t use your initial hunches or guesses as a basis for making a decision?

You need to take a few steps that will help your cognitive skills and decision making qualities. Some simple steps to follow are:

Make an initial assessment and collaborate the information accurately and keep the analysis focused on being positive and productive. Make a goal and keep that goal in sight at all times. If working alone, make sure you have sufficient data or information to make a good decision. Don’t be afraid to seek more input or information.

What is your agenda? What do you want to gain out of this discussion and how does your mind work more effectively and create steps to ensure you remain on track and follow up on your initial goals set. Organize your thoughts and depend on your skills, knowledge and even instincts to guide you through the process.

Is your head clear? Are you open to collaborative suggestions and ideas? Are you under stress and need to break away from the discussion temporarily to regroup your thoughts? There is nothing wrong with taking a time out if you are under pressure to make the right decision the first time around.

Distorted facts often come from working at the wrong level when deciding on a decision. Keep it simple but practical. Pay attention to your thoughts, your visions and your intuitive abilities. Lower your stress by discussing and addressing concerns brought up during the discussion. Don’t be afraid to repeat the process to work out any doubts.

Rely on notes, recordings or visual aids to remind you or to retain information essential to the problem at hand. Use different strategies to deal with the entire topic of discussion and reach out to others if you need more information or help with what you have.

Focus on your goals – don’t drift away from what you started. Maintain a physical or mentally developed structure so you can log or track your progress. Avoid being distracted or diverted to other subjects until you finish the one you are working on. Rely on your notes to come back to those you set aside.

Always follow up on your work. Never take it for granted it is completed or done in the action tasks required to make a good decision. Incompleteness often leads to failure as you fail to address the “what ifs” during the analysis or assessment process that gives you a second chance to catch your mistakes.

Never forget to ask for comments or feedback if the decision was a group based decision with collective methods in place. Suggest a follow up meeting on tracking or maximizing the goals, efforts brought forth and progress. If this was an individual effort, make sure you collect your notes, and schedule a review period so you can do the same thing.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:


  1. peter on 11/27/2018:

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  2. CognitiveEmergenceProgram on 05/21/2015:

    This is a very insightful and useful article for cognitive development. However, as so many inmates have incurred cognitive deficits from having traumatic brain injuries, alcohol and drug abuse, strokes, and other brain-based anomalies, their brain activity has diminished, limited them to control their thoughts and actions, requiring them to consciously think things through before acting on impulse. To improve their cognitive abilities, their Implicit Learning Domain needs to be rebuilt. We have this cognitive development program at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, McLoud, OK, where some 1,200 female inmates are incarcerated. For the past 9 years, more than 500 inmates have interacted with the Cognitive Emergence Program. 263 of these inmates have been released from prison for the past 5 years and only 9 have re-offended...a recidivism rate of 3.8%. 91% of these inmates were addicted to meth and 98% had traumatic brain injuries prior to going to prison. They tell me "Dr. John, I just don't need that stuff any more...I think differently." Click on www.cog-systems.com and view the 3 min. video overview. For prisons, we provide the on-site training of staff or high level inmates who do the program oversight, provide a server connecting all the computers with the Cognitive Emergence Program installed. If interested, I can send a free DVD with unscripted interviews of past clients who have significantly benefited from the cognitive development program. Dr. John N. Hatfield

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