Thinking is as integral to human life as breathing. Thought patterns influence every aspect of life ranging from attitudes, expectations, goals and assumptions to interpretations. Thinking styles differ from person to person and impact the entire spectrum of life right from the personal and interpersonal to the societal.
When thinking styles match, it results in improved communication. Understanding peoples’ learning styles within a framework of understanding thinking styles can make inroads into better communication patterns.
Building rapport is the core of determining five known thinking styles. It is undoubtedly the key to improving communication, building influence and creating trust. The common thinking styles are:
- Rationalism: People who subscribe to this style are intellectual, quantitative, problem-solvers and balanced. Their thinking is both direct and logical.
- Creative: This style of thinking yields conceptual thinkers who are flexible, curious, spontaneous, risk-taking and open-minded. Generally innovators and they tend to think strategically.
- Analysis: Analytical thinkers are practical planners, structured and industrious. They are often determined.
- Pragmatism: Pragmatic people also have traits that are synergistic, expressive and cooperative. They are generally friendly and kindhearted in nature. They respect other people’s feelings and work as very good negotiators.
- Realism: Realists are those who want to know as briefly as possible where the problem lies and how it can be fixed instead of reading reams of printouts and detailed information on the problem.
Once you are able to determine the thinking style of your colleague, customer, client, business partner or boss, it is easier to handle work situations effectively. While one or two thinking styles are predominantly used by most people, there are a sizeable chunk of people who use all five styles equally. Such people are generally easy to work with.
Understanding different thinking styles and being able to find common ground can have a lot of advantages—whether you are a manager, boss, colleague, team member or customer. The effect can be catalytic and can bring about cross-functional changes, while also providing people with a vocabulary that allows for candid discussions of differences in opinions and ideas. This, in turn, is the path that leads to building a foundation of mutual respect and cooperative interaction among colleagues.
Team work can be positively impacted by one’s ability to identify, understand, appreciate and explore patterns of thinking different from their own. Examine contrasting perspectives and target the ones at work in different roles or functions. Being able to clearly understand and identify thinking styles can gear up team members with effective communication skills for both the team and customers. Better ways to design project groups that are functional and efficient and work conceptually will gradually lead to innovation, improved performance and better results.
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