perspective

Edward de Bono came up with a good idea. I searched “6 Thinking Hats” and ended up with 8 million hits! It’s a very popular concept. He explains the different types of thinking very well. I think that his book is so good, my only criticism of it is that it needs to be more popular than it already is!

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In order to get a clear understanding, a person must use different types of thinking. He describes this by using an analogy of a house. If all four people are standing on different sides of the house, (north, south, east, west) then all four will see the same house differently. In order to get a clear picture/understanding of the house, you must go for a walk around it and view it from all four sides.

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Edward de Bono gives several examples of how this is a useful tool for management. This is the part where my criticism of it comes in. Many people read about this tool and think, “Wow! This is interesting! However I’m not in management and therefore it doesn’t apply to me.”

I disagree.

Getting back to the analogy of the house:

Although going for a walk around the house is easy to do, changing your thought process takes practice. All too often, people settle into one or two styles of thinking. They’re too lazy to walk around the house. They’ve become so complacent about their narrow thinking that they don’t understand the need to view the house from a different side! They’re oblivious as to the need to being able to view things from different angles. After all, why bother?

I’ve answered this by adding to the Six Thinking Hats concept by introducing the Six Thinking Suits and Ears.

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Ears detect sound. This is all they do. They don’t process the information. This is done in the brain. Someone can put on their ‘yellow hat’ by explaining the benefits of an idea. However in order to decipher this message, yellow ears must be worn. The ability to change hats can feel awkward at first but it can become second nature if practised. However, the skills required to change ears can be more difficult. The absence of this ability can range from mild irritation to quite a bit more. If fact there’s no limit as to how narrow minded a person can become! Listening to others is polite. The converse of this is that failure to do so can be downright rude! In order to highlight this point, I’ve also introduced The Six Thinking Suits.

People need to ‘change the channel’ in their brain periodically. If they don’t, their mind becomes stale as it regurgitates the same style of thinking over and over again. Laundry can be a similar comparison to the mind. Clothing becomes stale as it absorbs body odour. A person needs to change clothes in order to fit into society. The hygiene will vary quite a bit ranging from person to person and so will the degree of rudeness. A persistent attitude in narrow mindedness often comes across as ‘stench’.

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Getting ‘stomped on’ is no fun. We’ve all experienced the feeling of putting forward an idea or suggestion only to be ‘shot down’. Getting shot down is a natural part of life. However, some people do this automatically without even thinking.  We’ve all met people like this. They shoot down your idea before they even hear what it is!

Now that I’ve got your attention about the rudeness of narrow minded thinking, doesn’t it make you want to pay more attention to how you present yourself to others? People can think of you similar to the ‘turd man’ in the picture above. Just think. You can have some of these characteristics and be unaware of it.  You may be a ‘bull in a china shop’. You can be oblivious to all the havoc and destruction that your narrow minded attitude is reaping onto your social skills!

The best way to avoid this is to remember about the six thinking hats, ears, and suits. After all, you wouldn’t want to walk around in clothes that haven’t been laundered for 10 years!

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Many people would like to have the attitude as described above. The words above are easy to say. However having an attitude like that isn’t as easy. Your brain has to LEARN how to do this. It takes practice. Considering that others may be right and that you may be wrong feels awkward at first. It’s ‘exhausting’ the same as walking up the stairs. As with stair climbing, ‘practice’ it will make it become less exhausting and then not at all as your fitness improves.

I often compare this ‘mental’ exercise to physical exercise. It’s easy to consider other’s views when you’re not stressed. However it’s much harder to be open minded when you feel the pressure of everyday life. Furthermore, disagreement can be linked to ego. Sometimes a person feels, “If I try to see their side, I’m giving up ground. People will start to think of me as a pushover”!

As your ‘mental’ fitness improves, you can see other’s point of view without necessarily agreeing with it nor do you feel ‘threatened’ when this view differs from your own.

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