I think Venn diagrams are one of the most useful visual aids out there. Most people think of issues in terms of two sides, but in reality, there are almost always three or more aspects that intersect. Plotting them in a Venn diagram allows you to see that multiple perspectives can be true simultaneously, even if they are in conflict.

Venn diagrams can be used to describe the serious as well as the humorous. The Ask Amy advice column described divorce in the center with three circles of 1) sadness and grief for the life you had; 2) fear and insecurity about your future, and 3) guilt about not being able to fix it. Author Patrick Lencioni describes the Ideal Team Player as the intersection between 1) Humble, 2) Hungry, and 3) Smart.

On the lighter side, my favorite from the New Yorker portrays three circles of 1) Vegetables, 2) Sports, and 3) Ways to Die — with Squash in the center. A Facebook post from Catholic Memes has 1) a little wine, 2) lots of candles, and 3) mood music — with either Date Night or Catholic Mass in the center!

The next time you want to explain the complexities of a topic, see if you can plot them out in a Venn diagram. I think you’ll find “understanding” in the center.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: