Showing groups how we all see things differently

You see the same reality as me… don’t you?

One of the most fundamental assumptions we make when working together is that we all perceive the same things in the same way.

We do not.

Recognising this can create breakthroughs in otherwise locked situations

  • This is a surprise to lots of people, we do in fact all have our own version of objective reality
  • Proving it is another matter
  • But it can be done

Proving it to a group

I started using this method with groups when introduced to it by a good friend of mine, David Smith.

This works well if you have done a Myers Briggs (MBTI) session with the group but it can be adapted to work well without (This post explains how)

  • Split the room into two groups of MBTI preferences – one with S types the other with N types
  • tell them you are going to show them a picture for 10 seconds after which you’ll ask them to write down what they saw.
  • This is not a memory test just write down what you see that’s it.

The picture, have a good look at it:

S / N Picture

Why not write down what you see before reading on

( you can click on the picture to magnify it )

there are no right or wrong answers




The interesting results that get written down tend to fall into roughly two categories

People who list the facts and count the objects, state the age of things

People who interpret the picture in the form of stories and assign emotional content

The really interesting thing happens when you get the two groups to present back to one another.

“Where did you get that from?”……  “I can’t see that!” …….  “ohh I see!”

these are some of the comments that emerge.

As a facililitator you have pure gold to work with because you have different groups of people who now have proved to one another that when presented with exactly the same information at the same time they see diffrent things.

This can result in some quietly profound experiences for the group

Let me know what you think.


5 thoughts on “Showing groups how we all see things differently

  1. Sorry Ady, I’m new to this!

    I left my comments on the last section… ‘Thinking about facilitation’

    But, to repeat myself, I Love this painting !
    I see :
    Love, Trust, Understanding, Honour, Bravery, Separation and Hope.

    A beautiful choice of image.

  2. This point about assumptions is a powerful one, so thanks for making it.

    At Rhizome we work a lot with groups that use consensus decision-making and before the first word has even been said there are so many assumptions in the room…. “we all understand what we mean by consensus”;”we all do consensus decision-making the same way (ie my way!)”; “we all have a shared understanding of the common ground that brings us together”; “we all understand the issue we’re here to decide upon”… that’s just some of them. No wonder groups struggle to reach the depth of agreement required by consensus with all of these assumptions floating around!

    Enabling (or challenging) a group to articulate these assumptions is perhaps one of the most important roles of the facilitator. Of course that “we all have a shared understanding of the role of the facilitator” can also be one of those assumptions, and if not checked out can lead to tension and conflict – see

  3. Hi Rhizome,

    Thanks for the perceptive comments and also for the apt link to your blog about assumptions, I enjoyed reading the entry and can see why you directed me there.

    I understand your comment about Myers Briggs being a bit too formal. Now I know you have an interest, I’ll post another entry that explains how I separate out the S and Ns in the room.


  4. Pingback: Separating a room in to Sensers and iNtuitors « On Facilitation ….

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