I often have the groups I speak to do this exercise …
I ask them to pair up and have the person on the left make a fist. Then I give all the folks on the right five seconds to get their partner’s fist open.
Most struggle and strain to no avail. Then I say, “Can you think of any other way to get your partner’s fist open?” When I’m met with silence, I suggest they simply say to the other person: “Would you please open your fist?”
I’ve changed this up lately though, and folks are coming up with more varied and interesting ideas.
Now I say, “Imagine your partner has tightly closed his/her right fist. I’ll give you 30 seconds to think about how you would go about getting it open.” Now besides the “brute strength” approach, people are saying things like: “I’d threaten her by holding a pitcher of water over her head and counting to 10,” or, “I’d stomp on his foot.”
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Your takeaway from this: Take the time to think before you act.
This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.