Have you ever tried to imagine what it’s like to see the world through someone else’s eyes? We process the information that we see, hear, feel, taste and smell in our own individual way – generalizing, distorting and deleting – depending on filters such as our values and previous experience. So one person’s experience, memory of an event and model of the world will never be identical to that of another person.
I’ve written before that being able to understand another person’s perspective can be critical to success. As Henry Ford said “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Perceptual positions, as they’re called in NLP, are a balanced all-around approach to allow you to look at situations from different vantage points – your own (1st position), the other person(s) involved (2nd position) and as an unbiased observer (3rd position). It’s a powerful tool to help you change perspective and behaviour quickly and easily. If you’re stuck it can help you gain new understanding and create new ideas or choices on how to deal with that situation. You can use these positions to explore, learn from and adapt your behaviour for any given situation, past, present or future.
But what about thinking around different aspects of your own perspective? If you haven’t read it yet then a great book on this topic is the The
Six Thinking Hats from Edward de Bono. By using 6 coloured hats you can think your way around all sides of a challenge or issue. There are two main purposes of the 6 hats: first to simplify your thinking (as De Bono says “The biggest enemy of thinking is complexity, for that leads to confusion.”) and second to switch the angle of your thinking by taking a new perspective. The philosophy is that you “put the hat on” to pull out particular thoughts. The aim is to move around all 6 hats – starting and ending with blue – taking care to not get stuck with one. You can do this process alone or with a team.
So here’s the hats…
BLUE: a cool, calm colour of a clear summer sky. Blue is about BIG picture. Blue starts and ends the process, it’s the organizing hat, it’s the control hat and it’s the thinking about the thinking to explore an idea hat. It’s the conductor of the orchestra that enforces discipline and selects the other hats.
WHITE: this is the colour of neutral, objective, data-driven thinking. White is disciplined and focuses on facts and figures like a computer, it avoids interpretations or opinions.
RED: this is the emotional, feeling (kinesthetic) hat. It legitimizes emotions and feelings and there’s no need to justify or provide a logical basis for them.
BLACK: this is the hat of suspicion, caution and a careful approach. It’s the devil’s advocate. This is the hat that considers risks, dangers, obstacles, potential problems and downsides. The black hat is to be used sparingly.
YELLOW: this hat is the colour of sunny positivity. Think optimistic and constructive. Yellow looks for value and benefits.
GREEN: this is the organic colour of growth, innovation and new ideas. When you have this hat on it’s time to focus on creative thinking. It’s about provocation and moving forward.
And then we’re back to blue…
So try out the hats and see, hear and feel how they work for you. And don’t forget – “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got!” Jackie Moms Mabley
(Picture credit – thanks to Microsoft Clipart.)
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