When we’re in conflict with someone, even those we love, work with, or live with, the view we have of them narrows as we focus more on the conflict and less on the whole person. The following exercise is a quick, interactive way to demonstrate this idea.
Make a fist with a 1-inch hole in the center, as though you’ve wrapped your fingers around a broomstick. Go ahead, do it right now. No one’s looking.
Now hold your slightly opened fist up to one eye like you’re Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. Look through the 1-inch hole. How much of your surroundings do you see?
If you were to do this while looking at someone across the table from you, how much of them would you see? If someone is near you, try it right now.
Now growl Arrr! like a pirate.
Just kidding (about that last bit). Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
What you see through the pinhole in your fist is about how much people see of each other when they’re stuck in an ongoing state of conflict.
That quick little conflict resolution activity is one you can use as a manager, mediator, coach, trainer, or parent to illustrate the limiting effects of pinhole vision in conflict.
Then use the following articles to take a deeper dive into the conversation you just sparked:
- When we’re in conflict with someone, reflexive loops cause us to notice the data that supports our conclusion and miss the data that challenges it.
- There’s a word for the mistake of staring narrowly at the problem in the person instead of more broadly at the whole person: Potholism.
- It’s ego soothing to think we know someone better than they know themselves, but even on a good day we don’t know as much about someone as we think.
- Our field of vision narrows when we’re angry, an apparently hard-wired reaction originally intended to help us deal with imminent threats to our survival.
- Seeing the equal human in front of you is one of your most important tasks in conflict with someone who will continue to be in your life.
- A very good way to widen the pinhole view is to spend some time doing almost anything other than discussing the conflict.