Most people agree that we live in trying times. Finding a way forward will require learning to bridge our gaps and communicate with each other. Unfortunately, polite surface conversation about weather and hobbies will not get us there. What is required is the hard stuff – deep discussion of our most treasured beliefs, entrenched ideas, and deep desires. Anyone who has attempted such conversation knows that this path can be hazardous. Touching a person’s sensitive political or personal triggers could easily land you in an argument, or at worst could end valuable relationships. It seems like an impossible problem.
FarzadDiba, founder of a Milwaukee company called 1 to 10 and Then, believes he has found a solution. His company’s remarkable approach breaks through normal boundaries using a game format, provocative questions, and a unique scoring system.
This game, like many solutions before it, was born out of frustration. Farzad, unsatisfied with the usual small talk, had spent years trying to have deeper conversations with his friends and family. Most of those conversations resulted in either defensiveness or the projection of an idealized self, conversations becoming more about who we want to be instead of who we are.
Nearing desperation on one particular night, Farzad decided to write a statement down on a piece of paper so that all of his friends would be on the same page, and then have everyone score their own agreement with the statement on a scale from 1 to 10. Next, he had each of them score the others on that same scale. In a few seconds, what had been a winding and confusing conversation coalesced into a simple honest way to compare our own beliefs with how others saw us. The ensuing conversation, now armed with real data and feedback, was finally valuable.
Not only did he find that people were far more clear when thinking in simple numbers, they were much less defensive because it was the game asking these questions instead of another person. Moreover, the instant feedback that they received was so much more valuable than the verbal platitudes and statements of comfort that we usually get from loved ones. With the numbers established, it opened the door to rich conversation about the memories, ideas, and beliefs that went into them.
Farzad realized that he had created something too valuable to stay in his own living room, and decided to take 1 to 10 and Then to the world. As he explored many questions that helped to create connection, he found that they tended to revolve around either our ways of seeing ourselves, our relationships with our intimate partners, or our ways of relating to the world we inhabit. To capture these perspectives, he created The Self Deck, The Relationship Deck, and The Spiritual Deck, each of which reveal different and important aspects of who we are.
Since then, countless people have played the game and accolades have been rolling in from near and far. Many of them tell the stories of families that are finally talking to each other about things they care about. People are shocked at the new things they learn about people they have known for decades. Topics which had never been broached before now come up naturally around a set of cards and some glasses of wine. Boundaries are coming down, along with the preconceptions that separate us.
Farzad plans to keep going, bringing 1 to 10 and Then to more living-rooms, bedrooms, and public places. He loves the way he sees people unfolding around him, showing more of themselves. “Most of us are not living with a black and white existence. We live in a world where people encounter a diverse set of experiences in their lives, enabling us to talk about deep and intimate topics. Our card game aims to unleash this in an efficient but very engaging way.”
Feeling seen by those around us is critical to reducing anxiety and overcoming conflict. 1 to 10 and Then achieves that goal in unique and effective ways. If we can get it into more people’s hands, we may just see less strife in the world.