Hats Off to Conflict Resolution!

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Conflicts are simply problems that are not yet solved and what better way to approach a problem than   with the creativity of a system known as the “Six Thinking Hats”.  The hats are the brainchild of Dr. Edward de Bono and they are the subject of his book by the same name.  The method is premised on the idea that the brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be analyzed and accessed purposely for effective problem solving.   Both groups and individuals can use the system.  The six hats are each associated with a color and a way of thinking about a problem.

The white hat is used to think about what facts, figures and other information are needed in order to gain understanding.   Questions asked by the white hat wearer might include :  “What facts do we need to know in order to make a decision?”

The red hat is worn by those who use their instincts to think about problems.  It includes an emotional reaction to the situation.  When wearing the red hat, the questions might include “What is my (our) gut feeling about this?”

The green hat is used to find creative new ideas.  With the green hat on, the questions include “What complete, new, innovative ideas can we think of?”  By going way outside our comfort zone, but not committing to any action, you can sometimes find that the “wild idea” can be tweaked into a reasonable one.

The yellow hat is used to look at the situation from the most positive aspect possible.  When the yellow hat is worn, the problem is seen as an opportunity and the questions asked might be “What would be the best possible outcome?”

The blue hat is used to think of the big picture.  It is the master hat that uses an overarching thinking process.  When the blue hat is worn, the question might be: “How can we best summarize where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going?”

Finally, the black hat is used to discover the potential risks and downsides and is useful to determine solutions that are the most practical and likely to work.  The black hat wearer might ask: “What happens if that idea does not work?”

The visual imagery of putting on one color hat after another is fun and can lighten the problem solving for the heaviest, most entrenched problems we encounter.  The hats need not be worn in any particular order, just as long as each “gets its turn.” A trained mediator or facilitator from ACDRS can help guide you through the process and turn problems into solutions.  Give us a call to learn more!

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