A thought experiment is a mental roleplay that involves guided visualization. Individual participants mentally perform relevant activities. Combined with self-reflection, thought experiments increase self-awareness and help the participants learn new principles and procedures.
Here is a thought experiment on being a perfect host.
Brief the participants. Announce that you are going to conduct a thought experiment: You will present a scenario and invite each participant to independently think about the situation and imagine his or her actions and reactions in that situation.
Present the scenario. Give the following information in your own words:
You are traveling in a foreign country for two weeks. Your local contact is Sam. You have a wonderful and positive experience during your travel, mostly due to Sam’s hospitality.
Invite diary entries. Continue with the scenario in your own words:
Throughout your trip, you keep a log in the form of a travel diary. Every evening, you faithfully jot down the positive experiences you had during the day. These are usually in the form of brief sentences.
Please imagine the diary entries you will be writing during the week. Remember to focus on positive experiences.
Here are a few sample entries from my diary:
Sam received us at the airport with a welcome sign. He helped us with our luggage and drove us 80 kilometers to the hotel.
Sam arranged a trip to a local concert. It was good.
Sam asked about any dietary restrictions or food preferences we may have. He took us to a vegetarian restaurant.
Sam taught me conversation phrases in the local language to help me get around easily.
The local passengers in the trains were very friendly.
Write diary entries. Distribute blank index cards to the participants. Invite them to write their imaginary diary entries, one item per card.
Ask the participants to prepare a hospitality checklist. Ask the team at each table to mix the cards and review the diary entries, one at a time. Using these entries, invite the participants to create a checklist for people who are hosting foreign visitors. Encourage the participants to use the diary entries to suggest how to make the foreign visitor’s trip a pleasant and positive experience.
Comment on the checklists. Invite different participants to read some of the checklist items and comment on them.
Recommend a personal checklist. Ask the participants to note down the top three items they want to implement the next time they interact with foreign visitors.