IAF Methods

Differences in Perception

by for . Last edit was almost 2 years ago
15 - 20 15 - 20
Any workshop where it is useful for people to be aware of the difference between what we see and expect and what others see and expect
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Additional info


Participants will better understand the differences between what we experience, what we want others to experience and what others actually experience.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • sheets of A4 or 8 1/2 x 11" paper and pens.
  • Paper clips or pins to hold papers together



Pre-Work Required: none

Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: standard


Part 1: I Am


Everyone is given a piece of paper - a4 size and a table top setting to write.

For 1 minute, participants write lines starting with the words "I Am..." The idea is to write as many lines as you can, one characteristic of self per line, describing yourself as much as possible. Do not make the lines lengthy, but do make them unambiguous, to the extent possible.


Part 2: Chit 1


Now, assume that your list is what someone else has written. Look at it from a third person's perspective.

Take a smaller chit of paper (1/4 of an A4 sheet), and write, in bullet points, what your impression is of the person who has written that list. Use unambiguous adjectives to the extent possible. e.g., this is a religious person (i.e., a person who believes in his religion a lot).

You have 2 minutes to analyze the answers. Feel Free to use whatever inputs you can get from the piece of paper - kind of pen, handwriting, no. of lines... whatever you want to learn from anything in the sheet - use it. Imagine the person who wrote those lines, and then describe him/ her.


Part 3: Chit 2


Put all the “I Am” papers together(participants retain their analysis chits), and then shuffle them. Ask everyone to come and pick up a paper that’s not theirs. Repeat Activity 2, except that this time, they really do not know who the writer is.

Using a simple pin or paper clip (such that it is firmly fixed but is detachable), attach your analysis sheet to the I Am sheet and return it to the basket.

<Invite people to come and pick up their own sheets> .

You have now, 2 minutes to read what you thought of yourself from a third person's perspective, and what the other person wrote of you.

These 3 sheets tell you 3 different things:

1. The I Am Sheet - Who you think you are.

2. Chit 1(done in part 2): What you want others to know you to be.

3. Chit 2: What people are most likely to see you as.




The one thing we know best is our own selves. We have known us all our lives. And we tried, consciously, to use UNAMBIGUOUS words. And yet, the 3 reports do not tally completely. There will ALWAYS be a gap between what we want to communicate and what is heard or understood. now, as I say these lines, what I am saying and what you are hearing may be 2 completely different things.

<Start talking in a language that no one in the room might know. Invent a language if there is none. Speak a line. >

"That was the most profound thought I've ever heard. But of course, if I have to share it with you, I have to speak it in a language that you understand." <Pause>

"To speak it in a language that u understand, I have to understand you better."

That is what we are trying to do.

PS: Another variation is to tell everyone that they have to describe an object on their chit, without letting out the name of the object/ word. i.e., describe "bottle" w/o using the word "bottle". You can use any other words or adjectives. This makes the activity a little more fun and is better suited to a younger audience.


Follow-Up Required: none

Usual or Expected Outcomes: Self understanding

Pitfalls: The main exercise is very personal, and could set off people who do not have a strong sense of self.  The variation at the bottom is much safer.


Derived from: It's a synthesis of a couple of other activities, and the strength is in the debrief.

History of Development: unknown

Comments (2) ( 4.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • The main exercise is very personal, and could set off people who do not have a strong sense of self. The variation at the bottom is much safer.

    over 3 years ago
  • Really does allow participants to see the differences in perception.

    over 3 years ago