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Let's Get Some Perspective!

Do you, or anyone you know, have a hard time imagining or understanding another person’s perspective? I think this holds true for most everyone on the planet, to some degree or another! It’s easy to get so invested in our own views that we develop a belief of being “right” and of others being “wrong”. This is at the root of most arguments. As the proverbial heels get dug in, arguments can turn into very serious relationship issues. We are social beings, and communication and perspective are critical in determining the quality of the interactions we have.

In my work as an NFIS home-based worker, supporting healthy communication is a main-focus and is a common request. It is typical for people to verbally agree on the importance of considering another’s person’s views, and to have a common goal for healthy communication. That’s the easy part. The harder part is to put it into action, which is where focusing on perspective is key. I’ve been using an activity called “Draw a Bug” (no, I didn’t develop it, but I detail the activity below) to help others better understand and develop perspective. It has become a favorite activity and learning-tool, and has had consistently positive results.

This is how it goes: provide a piece of paper and a writing utensil to each person in a group of 2 or more. Explain that as the facilitator, you are going to give them all the same directions, and they are to follow each direction to the best of their understanding, without being able to ask for clarification. Each direction is only given once. You explain they are to each draw a bug, based on the descriptive directions you give. You then proceed with giving eight verbal directions, one at a time, as they each draw their own bugs. After the final direction is given and each person is done drawing their bug, you will ask everyone to present their “bugs”.

Everyone will notice immediately, that each person’s “bug” is very different from one another. Be ready to marvel at this as they work to understand that although they each were provided identical directions, they have produced very different results. This is a great lesson in perspective! Each time I do this activity, I witness the participants initially become confused as to why the bugs all look different. Often, they then show investment in their perspective being “right” by explaining that their bug was drawn “right” and that others were drawn “wrong”. In reality, each person just perceived and interpreted the directions differently. At the end of the activity, as we talk about why the bugs are all different, I observe a sense of awe and awareness, and this is often reported by the participants. I too, benefit each time as I watch this lesson in action, as an important reminder of the power of perspective, and how to work to be mindful of it so to have healthy, enjoyable, and productive communication. When I need a reminder (shocker, I’m not always “right”!), as we all do at times, I visualize all of the different bugs I’ve seen drawn. Then, I smile, and move forward with more patience and a greater likelihood for productive communication. Now, go gather some people, draw a bug, and gain some perspective!

Submitted by Mika Wilson-Everest, NFIS Family Specialist

Here is a link to more great communication exercises.

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