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The Pillow Method

Posted 05-02-08 at 11:20 AM by Grafter
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 another’s 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 another’s 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: I’m Right, You’re 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 “I’m right.” The blue circle with the red border and cross hash symbolizes “You’re wrong.”

Position 2: You’re Right, I’m Wrong. In this position we must play devil’s advocate and begin looking for flaws in our own perspective. It also requires us to find the strengths in the other’s position or view. This is often the most difficult task to accomplish However, the fact that we can understand another’s 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 Isn’t 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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  1. Old
    4gotAgain's Avatar
    interesting.
    so..position 5 is the right position to take.
    which is using all 4 positions..
    It's a brilliant way of looking at things.
    Posted 05-02-08 at 09:29 PM by 4gotAgain 4gotAgain is offline
  2. Old
    Hey Dude, I don't know if you have ever seen this, but The Office did a version of this and it was hilarious... But is was interesting to see how it was supposed to be
    Posted 05-03-08 at 01:39 AM by MJwatson MJwatson is offline
  3. Old
    Grafter's Avatar
    Quote:
    interesting.
    so..position 5 is the right position to take.
    which is using all 4 positions..
    It's a brilliant way of looking at things.
    4gotAgain,

    The idea that there is truth in all perspectives can sometimes be hard to see, but yes, that's what we need to remind ourselves of.

    What I have found helpful from this is determining "where" someone approaches an issue from, and therefore being able to better communicate with them. For instance, my S/O (she's a bit stubborn ) will, 99 percent of the time, take the approach that she is right and I (or whoever) am wrong. Knowing this, I am able to better state my position in a manner that will make her see another perspective.

    I usually default to Position 3, which both right, both wrong. Although this sounds like a good place to begin, it can cause problems with being assertive enough, or being too flexible.
    Posted 05-04-08 at 09:57 PM by Grafter Grafter is offline
  4. Old
    4gotAgain's Avatar
    so do we look at the positives and negatives of all perspectives?
    or do we see just the positives of all perspectives?
    or do we see all angles as being positives?

    Or do you mean that the fact that all perspectives have true and false elements..means that each persepctive is equal? or is as unequal and equal as each other?

    just wondering..
    Posted 05-05-08 at 03:36 AM by 4gotAgain 4gotAgain is offline
  5. Old
    4gotAgain's Avatar
    or is there no true right or wrong as a whole..
    but only true elements as parts? if you know what i mean..
    so we shouldnt see the perspective as a whole but just each part of the perspective..
    as in some parts are truth and other parts are false?
    because if you think about it..is there ever whole truth in anything?
    a little bit of falseness...taints truth..it becomes untruth..
    so in everything there will be truth and falseness..?
    does that say there will be right and wrong in everything?
    or do we judge everything as parts..there is true parts and false parts within the perspective..?

    dunno if this makes sense..
    Posted 05-05-08 at 03:38 AM by 4gotAgain 4gotAgain is offline
  6. Old
    Grafter's Avatar
    What is "true" for me is not necasarily what is "true" for you. Whether I believe you're position is good or bad, right or wrong, it is still your truth.
    Posted 05-07-08 at 10:38 AM by Grafter Grafter is offline
  7. Old
    4gotAgain's Avatar
    so would that mean that truth isnt a constant or universal?
    or is it ultimately a constant but its really unknown now because a little bit of falsity(?) taints truth, and can change what appears to be truth, when it isnt..
    for instance alot of people take medias word on events..wen alot of it is only taken from one perspective..so alot of people accept what the media says without taking into consideration a different side of the story? but then again both sides of the story may not be fully true? so do we take both sides and accept whats true for them?

    what about in a court room?
    what if one person thought it was okay to murder..and another didnt. Do we still accept it as that persons truth?

    just wondering..?
    Posted 05-07-08 at 07:43 PM by 4gotAgain 4gotAgain is offline
  8. Old
    theta's Avatar
    Position 0: Biggest stick. A good old fashion pillow fight might solve the debate to.
    Posted 06-16-08 at 08:11 PM by theta theta is offline
  9. Old
    Grafter's Avatar
    Quote:
    Position 0: Biggest stick.
    Quote:
    A good old fashion pillow fight might solve the debate to.
    LmAO! I'll give it a try. I'm always looking for new insight1
    Posted 06-16-08 at 10:02 PM by Grafter Grafter is offline
 
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