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<xTITLE>Its not enough to talk about the gorilla in the room; you have to see him first</xTITLE>

Its not enough to talk about the gorilla in the room; you have to see him first

by Diane J. Levin

From Mediation Channel

Diane J. Levin

Have you seen the gorilla?One of my favorite exercises to conduct in negotiation or conflict resolution training consists of showing my audience the famous gorilla video, created by the Visual Cognition Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I tell the audience that they will observe two teams of people playing basketball, one in white shirts and the other in black, and tell them to count the number of times the team wearing white t-shirts bounces the ball.

So focused are most audience members on accurately counting the number of times the ball bounces, they fail to observe the person in a gorilla costume who strolls through the players, stops in front of the camera to thump its chest, and then exits the scene.

After asking them to tell me what number they counted to, I ask if anyone noticed anything unusual. On average, across the many times I have played that video, only one third of the audience will have noticed the gorilla. On rare occasions, only two people out of an audience of, say, 50, will have seen the gorilla. And the ones that didn’t see the gorilla can’t believe their eyes when I replay the video to show them that the gorilla really was there after all. That’s a lot of people who didn’t see the gorilla.

It serves as a potent reminder of how easily our attention to one thing can blind us to seeing what is literally in front of our eyes — and that in every situation where lives or livelihoods are at stake, where relationships or choices matter — whether resolving a conflict, making an important decision, or pulling the lever in the voting booth — a gorilla may be present, hiding in the open, right in plain view.

Before we can talk about the gorilla, we have to know he’s there.

Biography


Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property issues, and serves on numerous mediation panels, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Training and coaching are an enduring passion -- she has taught thousands of people to resolve conflict, negotiate better, or become mediators -- from Croatian judges to Fortune 500 executives.

 

A geek at heart, Levin consults on web design and social media to professionals.  She blogs about ADR at the intersection of law, science, and popular culture at the award-winning MediationChannel.com, regarded as one of the world's top ADR blogs.  She also tracks and catalogues ADR blogs world-wide at ADRblogs.com, where she has created a community for bloggers writing about constructive ways to resolve disputes.

 

web site: http://dianelevin.com



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