Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Optical illusions as a training tool for mastering negotiation and conflict resolution skills

Optical illusions as negotiation and conflict resolution training toolsAs a trainer of negotiation and conflict resolution skills, I love using optical illusions to demonstrate the fallibility of our perception. They alert us that our senses can be unreliable and susceptible to influence. And they remind us that it is always possible to see things differently. The ability to be alert to errors in thinking and judgment that any of us are prone to is of course essential to anyone who is negotiating or resolving a dispute.

Here are two optical illusions I was recently introduced to that I've incorporated into my training. Both of us these can be found at Michael Bach's web site, 75 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena.

The first is Shepard's "Terror Subterra", a cool interactive illusion that demonstrates how perspective can bias us.

The second is Shepard's "Turning the Tables", an interactive illusion with tables that appear to be of different dimensions but are in fact identical, with the ability to test the visual effect for yourself. It's extraordinary how knowing the truth doesn't necessarily prevent us from making mistakes in our thinking.