3.1.3 How it Might Be Possible to Get Another Perspective
When setting out on a process of personal change, it is important that you take good care of yourself. Part of this might be a decision that it would be unwise or unhelpful to approach anyone that you know for feedback. If you think that this will be your decision, then you will be happy to know that there are alternative ways to learn from the perspectives that other people can provide.
There are a number of well-established approaches intended to find out what other people might have to say about us. Perhaps the best known is the “empty chair” technique. This involves choosing someone to sit in the “empty chair” and imagining what he or she would have to say to us if present. In therapy, this is intended to make up for things that were not discussed in the past, but which should have been.
In the context of Learning to Learn, you could adapt the empty chair technique to imagine what feedback on your skills and qualities someone you trust would give you. As you are imagining what someone might say, you have unlimited scope to decide whom your mentor might be. You could, for example, take one of the case study subjects, or one of the animation characters, and imagine that he or she is giving you feedback. Alternatively, you could choose someone for whom you have great respect or affection—even if you do not know him or her.
Of course, this “imagined” feedback may be very different from what Shehnaz, or even someone like Nelson Mandela, might actually say to you. The point is that the empty chair technique can help you explore ideas from a perspective that will be different from perspectives you may usually use. If the idea of imagining what people would say to you sounds second best to actually getting feedback from someone, remember that students who do get this type of feedback still have to decide how to interpret and make sense of it.