6.1 — Developing our Community – Shifting Perceptual Positions (35 minutes)
Materials needed: Shifting perceptual positions worksheet, pens or pencils
Purpose of piece: To consider how each of four different perspectives might provide different insight into how to respond to a challenging situation.
Say to group: What happens when you feel conflicted about a decision you have to make? It can be tough to figure out how to respond when you feel torn. For most of the tensions in Chapter 6, there are no clear answers. This activity gives us a chance to practice taking on different perspectives so that we might work ourselves into an answer that takes both our inner truth and accountability principles into account.
First, take a moment to think of a current or past conflict that you’ve struggled to navigate. It could be a current issue that you need to make a decision about now. Or, it could be something that is in the past. It would be helpful if you selected something that has to do with racial justice. But, that’s not necessary.
Facilitator’s Note: Be sure to pause for at least 30 seconds to allow participants to think of a situation.
Now, I’m going to distribute this handout for us to review. It was developed from Raul Quinones Rosado’s work, Consciousness-in-Action: Toward an Integral Psychology of Liberation and Transformation. It provides four different points of perspective that we can use to evaluate a situation. (10 minutes)
- Personal “I’ perspective: This is the perspective we normally use on a daily basis. This is the story we tell ourselves about the situation. It includes our feelings and projections.
- The “other” perspective: This involves imagining how another person perceives the situation. It requires a level of responding, because it involves letting go of our personal projections about the situation.
- An “outsider, observer” perspective: What would someone who you respect who is outside of this situation say? A question that helps one arrive to this place is, “What would my mentor say?”
- A “system-wide” perspective: This involves considering how we would be considered accountable by an organization or community. It involves considering how historical patterns influence perception and it includes large-scale consideration of societal development, humanity as a whole, and/or the influence of spirit. A question that characterizes this position is, “How will this be viewed 10, 50, or 100 years from now?”
Now, take some time to write in your own thoughts about your situation from each perspective. (Self-reflection – 10 minutes)
Facilitator’s Note: You will want to provide an example from your own history about a time when you struggled to make a decision. Use the blank sheet in advance of the session and do this activity yourself to prepare. You can then answer questions for participants who aren’t sure exactly how to think through the process.
Pair share (5 minutes):
- What did you find when you looked at your situation from all four positions?
- Which positions do you use most often? Which would be beneficial to include more often?
Large group debrief (10 minutes):
- Which of the four perceptual positions are used most often within this community?
- How would things be different if we used this process when making difficult decisions?
- How would using this strategy support accountability?
Wrap up: Expanding our perceptual positions to consider multiple points of view is a skill that supports accountable decision-making. It requires practice.