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  • Emma Stenström

We need to understand the know-it-alls

Bubble-hoppers are creative explorers, critical thinkers, worriers, and know-it-alls. When more than 800 people have tried bubble-hopping we are starting to see patterns. The know-it-all character see no need to meet people that are different from them. To understand how to unlock them might be a key to bridging divides.

Just the past weeks, 66 international master students, in the high-ranked management program CEMS , and 30 managers in the Swedish public sector tried bubble-hopping and reflected upon it afterward.

One thing that is obvious is that people approach, conduct, and reflect on bubble-hopping in very different ways.

In order to map it out, we have identified four different types of bubble-hoppers (and yes, they are ideal-types, and no one fits perfectly in a single category):

The Creative Explorer

The creative explorers are natural born bubble-hoppers, and tend to love it. Curious, social, and only happy to get an excuse to talk to someone they have not talked to before.

Still, and even if it feels natural to them, they take the opportunity to challenge themselves. They talk to people they have never talked to before, they talk about sensitive topics and they try different methods. And, most important, they try to understand beliefs, opinions, experiences, or values that are different from their own. The essence of bubble-hopping.

Maybe they are not the ones who benefit most from bubble-hopping, since it comes so natural to them. However, they are a great addition to a group (and the society) since they happily – and often creatively – share their experiences. Whatever happens in their hops, they extract learnings from it and spread them via charts, drawings, films, pictures, or other creative methods.

The Critical Thinker

Then we see the skeptical ones. They question different aspects of a bubble-hop:

· Is it ethical to talk to someone unknown, especially if they are less privileged?

· Can it not be considered “social tourism” to visit a place and talk to people?

· Where are the boundaries? Should you talk to all people and talk to others about it afterward. Is that not marketing of their opinions?

· Don’t you create bubbles by bubble-hopping?

There is a never-ending stream of questions, and they are very valuable. They make everyone, including us, think and articulate where we draw the boundaries.

However, sometimes they make the bubble-hops less interesting. There are too many concerns and quite a bit of over-thinking, which might hinder the person from engaging in the meeting. And sometimes the critical thinkers choose a rather safe bubble to visit, to make sure they do not cross any boundaries.

The Worrier

At first, they look similar to the critical thinkers, but it soon turns out to be other concerns behind. In this category we might find the shy ones, for example. They often need more help and ask for clearer instructions, since meeting unknown people and having sensitive conversations do not come natural to them.

Once again, as with the critical thinkers, this is also valuable. It helps when refining the skills, for example. And with a little bit of help, and inspiration from others, they might in the end make very interesting bubble-hops and learn a lot from them.

The Know-it-All

This type shows up in all groups we have met. They already see themselves as bubble-hoppers and cannot see any use for an exercise like this. Surprisingly often, and despite their experience, they still do not challenge themselves.

Perhaps this is the most interesting type. They often seem to lack self-awareness and they have a fixed mindset. Otherwise, how could you argue that you cannot learn anything from meeting someone you are curious about? Or anyone?

Understanding how the know-it-alls can open up, might be a key to bridge divides – and therefore, we love them at FIKA.

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