“Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Do you know how to embrace different thinking, or others thinking different from you?
You improve your communication with others when you can match their thinking style and their ways of thinking.
You can also avoid rubbing your boss the wrong way by paying close attention to how they approach the tasks of the day.
In Coping with Difficult Bosses, Robert Bramson identifies five thinking styles to categorize our different thinking styles and problem solving we use most frequently.
The great news is that thinking different and connecting with people with different thinking styles is a skill you can build.
Here are my key takeaways:
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood. The more you understand somebody, the better you can adapt your style. This is a very simple, but profound way to embrace different thinking styles.
- Establish rapport. Enjoy thinking different by establishing rapport. I think the heart of identifying the five thinking-styles revolves around establishing rapport. Rapport is the key to communication, influence, and trust.
- Know the anti-patterns. It’s probably more important to know how to avoid rubbing somebody the wrong way, than getting the preferred or ideal communication style exactly right.
- Wear different hats. I think you can use the Six-Thinking Hats concept of using “imaginary hats” to switch your hat based on who you are working with. Each hat you put on or take off can represent a different thinking style
I think the five thinking styles are a helpful framework in addition to understanding somebody’s learning style ( auditory, visual, or kinesthtic), their NLP meta-programs, their motivation (towards pleasure or away from pain), their values, their “rules”, their extraversion and introversion tendencies, their passive or aggressive tendencies, whether they are more “task-centered” or “people-centered”, their decision making style (consult-and-decide or build consensus), and their management styles (Autocratic, Paternalistic, Democratic, and Laissez-faire.)
The 5 Thinking Styles
According to Bramson, the five thinking styles and ways of thinking are:
- Pragmatist Thinkers
- Analyst Thinkers
- Realist Thinkers
Notice that in all the way of thinking, they are only different thinking styles if they are different from your own.
And that’s the power of knowledge to appreciate, respect and embrace thinking different.
If you want better results, you need different thinking styles to tackle challenges from a multi-perspective, balcony view.
Here is a different thinking style that can surprise you if it’s thinking different from your own, or if you are unfamiliar with the style.
According to Bramson, “Synthesists are creative thinkers who perceives the world in terms of opposites. When you say black, they think white, when you say long, they think short.”
To connect with Synthesists, Bramson suggests “listen appreciatively to their speculation and don’t confuse their arguing nature with resistance.”
Resistance is fruitful.
If you consider yourself a realist or a pragmatic thinker, this could be a very different thinking style from your own.
According to Bramson, “Idealists believe in lofty goals and standards.”
To connect with Idealists, Bramson suggests “associate what you want to do with these goals of quality, service, and community good.”
Consider it a chance to dream bigger, realize more potential, and push beyond the bane of ordinary existence.
This is a different thinking style that focuses on taking action now, with the time, energy, and resources you have.
According to Bramson, “Pragmatic thinkers are flexible, resourceful folk who look for immediate payoff rather than for a grand plan that will change the world.”
To connect with Pragmatists, Bramson suggests “emphasize short-term objectives on which you can get started with resources at hand.”
This is a different thinking style that embraces completeness and accuracy.
In other words, a great way to annoy an Analyst thinking style is to keep simplify and surround them with fluff.
Demonstrate how you fully understand the complete and complex story, or at least appreciate it, so they don’t flip the bozo bit with them.
According to Bramsom, “Analyst thinkers equate accuracy, thoroughness, and attention to detail with completeness.
They are likely to gather data, measure it, categorize it, and rationally and methodically calculate the right answer to any problem you come up with.
To connect to Analysts, Bramson suggests “provide a logical plan replete with back-up data and specifications.”
This is a different thinking style that really embraces executive summaries supported with recommended actions to address the challenge.
According to Bramson, “Realist thinkers are fast moving doers who know that reality is what their senses – sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch – tell them it is, and not that dry stuff that one finds in accounting ledgers, or the insipid pages of manual of operations.”
To connect with Realists, Bramson suggests focus on the challenge and your solution.
“If you communicate with Realist bosses as if they were Analysts, you will never get their attention.
Rather than gobs of computer-printouts and other detailed information, Realists want a three-paragraph ‘Executive Summary’ which tells briefly what is wrong and how you propose to fix it.
For rather complicated reasons, they will often take you at your word if they see you as a qualified expert.
You become an expert in their eyes when they know that you’ve assembled a store of facts in which they are interested, and you have proposed a set of actions that they already believe are the best things to do.”
How To Use the Five Thinking Styles for Better Results
Take the time to place your boss or who you need to interact with into one or two of the five thinking-style categories.
Keep in mind that while one or two styles predominates for most people, about fifteen percent use all five styles equally.
Those who do, are seldom difficult bosses.
Once you’ve identified their preferred categories, figure out how you can change your approach to better suit their style.
A little insight can go a long way when it comes to connecting with people.
Can you identify your dominant thinking styles?
Can you identify your boss’s thinking style?
What about each person you work with or interact with?
If you can bridge the gap between their thinking style and yours, you’ll have more rapport and get better results.