The Pillow Method
Posted 05-02-08 at 11:20 AM byGrafter
I was introduced to this communication tool during an Interpersonal Communications course I attended at my University. The Pillow Method was reportedly developed by a group of Japanese school children and first reported by writer Paul Reps in the book Square Sun, Square Moon published in 1967. Its purpose is to help boost empathy or find merit in anothers position. The name comes from the analogy that a pillow has four sides and a middle, just like all problems. By working though each side of the problem, viewing an issue from each perspective, we should be able to find value in anothers perspective.
I've created a visual to illustrate the method and positions and attached to this blog.. In the center I placed a symbol synonymous with finding direction, a compass rose. In this case I have used the Numbers one through four instead of north, south, east, and west to signify where to begin and which direction to move toward.
Position 1: Im Right, Youre Wrong. This is the perspective most of us default to when we view an idea or hear a differing point of view. It is the perspective that we believe and have faith in, and requires little effort for us to understand. As a metaphor I have used the yellow circle with the green border to signify Im right. The blue circle with the red border and cross hash symbolizes Youre wrong.
Position 2: Youre Right, Im Wrong. In this position we must play devils advocate and begin looking for flaws in our own perspective. It also requires us to find the strengths in the others position or view. This is often the most difficult task to accomplish However, the fact that we can understand anothers position does mean we have to approve of it. Position 2 is represented by the same metaphors of Position 1, but are reversed in this case.
Position 3: Both Right, Both Wrong. Once arriving at the third position we should be able to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of both perspectives. Each side has merit and flaws. More importantly, we should be able to identify commonalities between our positions. Position 3 is represented on the pillow with two yellow and green circles and two blue and red circles. We now have a broader view than we previously had.
Position 4: The Issue Isnt as Important as It Seems. In this view we may find that we have made the issue out to be bigger than it truly is. Even in the most severe or traumatic events the effects of the dispute will eventually lesson or fade away. I have used the same yellow and blue circles to signify this position. In this case they surround question marks as if asking What were we arguing about?
Position 5: There Is Truth in All Four Perspectives. The process of looking at an issue from these four positions should yield the idea that most disagreements contain both right and wrong elements. Whether or not we have reached agreement, we are able find merit or understating of an opposing position. This is the middle ground. I have used the Japanese script for Truth to signify this position and to give appreciation to the young Japanese children who have been credited with The Pillow Method.
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