MINI-ASSIGNMENT #1: The Pillow Method
The Pillow Method was developed by a group of Japanese school children; the pillow method gets its name from the fact that a problem has four sides and middle, just like a pillow.
Position 1–I’m right and you’re wrong
This is the perspective that we usually take when viewing an issue. We immediately see the virtues in our position and find fault with anyone who happens to disagree with us.
Position 2–You’re right and I’m wrong
At this point you switch perspectives and build the strongest possible arguments to explain how another person can view the issue differently from you. Besides identifying the strengths in the other’s position, this is the time to play the devil’s advocate and find flaws in yours.
The goal of position 2 is to find some way of comprehending how anyone could think or behave in a way that you originally found hard to understand.
Position 3–We’re both right, both wrong
From this position you acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of each person’s arguments. Taking a more evenhanded look at the issue can lead you to be less critical and more understanding of another’s point of view.
The perspective of position 3 should help you see that the issue isn’t as much a matter of complete right and wrong as it first appeared to be.
Position 4–This issue isn’t as important as it seems
This is where you pick and choose your battles. Of course, some things you can just let go. If the issue is really important to you, you should openly discuss it with the other person. Just keep in mind that the importance of a dispute can fade when you realize that it may not be as important as you originally thought.
Position 5–There is truth in all four perspectives
After completing the first four positions, a final step is to recognize that each of them has some merit. It is almost certain that you will gain new insights. These insights may not cause you to change your mind or even solve the problem, but they can increase your tolerance for the other person’s position and thus improve the communication climate.
Written Assignment: Shifting Perspectives: The Pillow Method
Select a disagreement that may be affecting a relationship at home or work. Record enough background information for an outsider to understand the issue. Who is involved? How long has the disagreement been going on? What are the basic issues involved? Describe the issue from each of the four positions listed below. Record your conclusions at the end of the exercise.
Position 1: Explain how you are right and the other person is wrong.
Position 2: Explain how the other person’s position is correct, or at least understandable.
Position 3: Show that there are both correct (or understandable) and mistaken (or unreasonable) parts of both positions.
Position 4: Describe at least two ways in which the elements developed in positions 1-3 might affect your relationship. Describe at least one way in which the issue might be seen as more important than it was originally.
Conclusion: Explain how there is some truth in each of the preceding positions. Also explain how viewing the issue from each side has changed your perception of the issue and how it may change your behavior in the future. Explain how this issue and your understanding of it may affect your relationship.