Photo by Patricia M. Porter
My husband and I love to play games with family and friends. One of my favorite games is Big Boggle, a word game, where you have three minutes to find as many words as you can with earning higher points for four or more lettered words. The game is composed of dice with one letter per dice. We shake the box until all of the letters fall into a slot with letters shown in different directions. Each of the player’s view of the game is different depending on where you sit around the table. After the timer goes off, we then compare words crossing off similar words from our list. Words remaining on your list indicate no one else saw your word nor wrote it down. You then score points for being the only person with the word on the list. Responses such as “Wow, I didn’t see that one.” Or “I can’t believe I didn’t see it. I was looking straight at it.” Then, we start another round amazed how each of us sees the words in front of us differently and yet, ironically, we are all viewing the same die. It is mind boggling.
Or, is it? Being a conflict management practitioner for over 22 years, I study many aspects of conflict resolution theory, relational dynamics, and neuroscience. The area of study I enjoy exploring is the field of neuroscience and how our brain can work like a muscle. The brain is an organ, but like most muscles, with focused effort, we can practice and build our critical thinking skills, learn to manage and control our emotions, and even change our thinking thus our perspectives. Like everyone else, I can easily stick with what I know and believe my perspective to be the “right way” of doing things or to adamantly state “that’s how I see it, felt it, and experienced it.” So, how can you challenge yourself, build awareness and even explore a perspective building skill? Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Watch Chris Chabris and Daniel Simmon’s videos. Psychologists and authors of The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us made a series of short and funny video clips to illustrate illusions to our perceptions, how we selectively choose to focus on certain things and dismiss other critical information, and our uncanny ability to not see changes right in front of us.
- Watch the television series Brain Games. This Emmy-nominated television series demonstrates how the brain processes information. These short episodes on National Geographic are fun and boggle the mind. They introduce a concept such as perception, memory, stress, etc. and then demonstrate through visuals and audio how your brain engages. They provide practical strategies to reduce misperceptions and illusions of memory, and so much more.
- Play the word game, Big Boggle. Well, it is a fun game and builds word skills. It challenges you to look at so many angles. What are other games which challenge perspective that you would recommend? Let me know.
- Ask open-ended questions to gain different perspectives and challenge your critical thinking skills. Often disagreements escalate into conflict and even full blown disputes because we get stuck in our perspectives. Taking another perspective leads to undiscovered factual information, understanding another’s experience or emotions and sheds light on a new unseen angle. Asking open-ended questions tells the other person you are genuinely interested in learning. Examples of these types of questions could be
- What light can you shed to help me see this differently?
- How might you help me see the hidden door and walk through it?
- What am I missing that would help me understand your perspective?
Go out and challenge yourself daily. Build that perspective-taking muscle and skill set. Let me know how it goes.
Host and Founder
The Texas Conflict Coach®