If there’s a disparity between what you believe you’re capable of doing and the way you actually perform, you may be surprised at just how frequently you lose. For example, I’m an amazing tennis player, but whenever I play with my friends, I always lose. Sometimes it’s because I’m playing against someone who is better than me, or sometimes it’s simply because I’m not paying attention to the details. However, regardless of the cause, the disparity is an uncomfortable fact of life.
The way we perceive the world, both consciously and unconsciously, impacts our ability to master it. If you have a clear understanding of how a surface feels like to you, then you’ll have an easier time playing on that surface. This is the problem with tennis; we use our sense of touch and our sense of sight to determine what a particular surface feels like. Most surfaces are fairly smooth, but this isn’t always the case. When you step on a wooden surface, your shock absorber organs are in the wrong position to take the shock. You end up putting a lot of energy in the wrong place; you don’t necessarily transfer that energy to the ball, but rather your shoes.
When you walk on an uneven surface, the effects of your footwear on the floor are the same as if you were walking on a smooth surface. You’ll encounter random perturbations, which can alter the path you take while walking on the floor. The size and shape of the object and its distance from you both have a bearing on how you perceive the object. These perturbations do not affect the object directly, but the effect they have on your body is called disparity. Simply put, disparity creates an experience of “being on the wrong side of the street.”
Many of the studies of disparity have focused on two questions. The first question was, “What makes a business owner feel uncomfortable?” The second question was, “How does a business owner to resolve this issue?” In other words, if you go into some one-on-one interview with a business owner who is doing the interviewing, what will you learn about how they perceive the world around them?
The answer to the first question is obvious: very little. It’s true that most human beings are not comfortable in unnatural environments. When you go to a hearing, you will hear testimony that is overwhelmingly emotional, seemingly driven more by anger than by logic. When you go to a business owner’s internal meetings, the emotional evidence of disparity that he or she comes to grips with will be much different.
This is why many field service companies and customer care representatives spend so much time training their employees to talk more politely, to listen more carefully, and to be polite to customers who have trouble understanding what is being said. This training is geared towards reducing the amount of disparity in the target market area. This is where a disparity study can come in handy. By looking at what is said between those who live in the same market area but differ in gender, religion, education, power, income level and so on, a disparity study can show what is not being said, as well as what is being said that could be invalid.
For instance, if you go to an interview with a service truck driver who drives an 18-wheeler, the guy might say that everyone in his company is over 50 years old, has diabetes, back pain, etc. But when you ask him questions about work personnel ratios, break times, company policy, etc., he has nothing to offer you. So you have two choices. You can do a disparity study yourself by asking people in the field about things that they would likely say if asked. Or you can use a disparity study to help train future drivers in a company’s policies, procedures, etc., which will help reduce the disparity in the workforce.
There are many uses for a disparity study. It can be used for anything from setting and maintaining quotas for government contracts to setting quotas for the number of hours of training a new driver must complete every year. The government has been using disparity studies for years and it continues to help businesses succeed. Just because you don’t think your company needs a study doesn’t mean you don’t need one. In fact, if you do think you might have a difference in wages or you’re just confused about what is going on in your workplace, it could pay off for you to look into doing a disparity study.