Richer Picture

How you see the world and the people around you is influenced by your own experiences— and oftentimes, there’s more to the story. Learn about the importance of broadening your perspective and seeing stories from multiple views.

Time
45 min
Materials
Pen + Paper
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1

The different lenses we look through directly impact how we interpret stories we hear and how we view the people around us. Watch this TED talk to learn more about how our own biases can affect our perceptions of situations and other people.

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie points to different stories where she or someone else only understood part of the story, which led to stereotypes and misinterpretations. Consider a few stories you have heard recently— this might be a story from the news, a book, or a friend. Try to come up with a story that fits each of these situations:

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One way to start to broaden your perspective and address bias is to ask questions about the context behind the story you heard. Which story feels the most one-sided to you? Take this story and consider:

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When we break down the context behind stories, it can help illuminate our own lenses that we bring to the story. What’s one assumption you made when you heard this story? Have you changed your mind at all about this story?

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Developing social awareness starts with being able to see a situation from another perspective, even if we don’t always agree with it. Let’s build a richer picture of the story you just examined—

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Call out your own lenses

You can see other perspectives more clearly by acknowledging your own experiences and how they affect what you are hearing. The next time someone shares with you, ask yourself: Do I have experience with this topic? How might my experiences affect what I’m hearing? Is what I think true of this person or is it my interpretation?

Examine conflict from a new angle

One approach to problem solving is to develop your perspective taking skills. Think about a conversation that didn’t go the way you’d intended. What do you think happened from the other people’s point of view? Why? Does this change how you feel at all?

Practice switching perspectives

We can never fully understand what it’s like to be someone else, but we can work to build stronger empathy. Sit down with someone you are close to and pick a situation that both of you were in. Talk about each of your points of view on what happened and notice— did they perceive anything differently than you? Why do you think that is?