Pertinent Negative

Generally, our visual perception is based on describing things we see. In contrast, Amy Herman implements the approach of pertinent negative – the way of reflecting reality by things we do not see. Considering the fact that people’s perception is selective, we tend to miss information for narrowing the focus on details we find necessary or relevant at the moment. Thus, Amy Herman’s visual technique helps to create a broader picture of the environment. I have reason to believe that the pertinent negative is beneficial in human interaction, helps improve relationships, and applies in management. Let us take a closer look.

As Burkus said: “Pertinent Negative gives us an unbiased impression about the individual, as we are not looking for what we can see, but what we can’t.” (Chukwubuikem, 2020). Here we get a perspective to understand others and empathize, and develop trusting relationships. Besides, there is a way to prevent projection in close relationships, for the golden opportunity to see the situation more objectively. There is more space for open discussion, listening, and finding compromise by practicing pertinent negatives.

In the business field, all those benefits of pertinent negatives successfully work too. Moreover, the approach supports teamwork and helps invigorate projects. Team leader Chukwubuikem Felix Amaefule said, “As the discussion progressed, I discovered that I was quick to conclude in some observations without seeking for what was missing from my colleague’s view” (Chukwubuikem, 2020). Thus, people can do their job more effectively.

I like the pertinent negative because I can relate to it. Sometimes, I am so dedicated, focused on the result that I miss factors affecting progress. By practicing to look for things I do not see, my communication became transparent and diverse. For instance, I have a tendency to notice things that others haven’t done. Now I started paying attention to routine duties, new good habits, or positive behavior that they did and mentioning it in our conversation.

To sum up, thanks to Amy Herman’s innovative concept, we have access to more information by asking a simple question: “What we do not see?’ (Herman, 2016). The idea is a gateway to seeing familiar things differently, understanding others, and becoming flexible and adaptive to circumstances. 

I hope my investigation serves its purpose. Start practicing pertinent negative, and as David Burkus assures, “over time, your visual intelligence should improve, and you’ll catch more of what you’re missing.” 


Burkus, D. (2016, September 14). How to notice what you can’t see. Inc. Retrieved from

Chukwubuikem, F. (2020, August 28). Perception and Pertinent Negative. Linked In.

Herman, A. (2016, September 10). Take this perception test to see how visually intelligent you are [Video]. Youtube.

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