When you are making a decision, do you like to look at a situation from multiple angles? If you want to test yourself, try solving The Riddle of Three Hats offered as an assignment for the Harvard Law School course CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion (when you see the syllabus page, scroll dow n to the “Assignment”). The ability to consider a problem from multiple perspectives is part of critical thinking. Whatever we are dealing with, we bring our own biases, prior knowledge and experiences to the table. They can cloud our judgment preventing us from seeing the complexities and nuances of a situation. Engaging multiple perspectives helps to illuminate our blind spots. How do you develop this skill?
Start with identifying all the parties whose interests may be potentially affected by the situation. When you read a legal opinion, you are given the names of all the interested parties. The real life cases are not always straightforward. If you don’t recognize a potential interest, you may miss an important issue or problem that can surface down the road.
After you have your list, look at each party one by one and brainstorm what issues and interests each party brings to the situation. You may decide to use a wheel layout similar to the one in this post to record your observations. You can then give your wheel a mental spin to evaluate how each party is related to each set of issues/interests.
Whether you plan to litigate, negotiate or mediate, you can benefit from the multi-perspective approach.