Thinking differently

Everyone thinks and does things differently, has different comfort zones. Can modelling this help us work better?

By: Helen Gilchrist,   2 minutes

Thinking Styles

“Would you like to be more successful in dealing with people that are very different from you?” asks the video. Er, yes please. Whether it’s at work or play, everyday life involves interacting with people who have different ways of thinking, different ways of doing things, different comfort zones. Find common ground, a way that works for both parties, and everyone’s happy. But push your own way and sparks can start flying.

I think I know what I’m like. The things that fire me up, the things that set my mind whirring, the things that bring out the best in me and the things that really wind me up or make me difficult to work with. I think I know how I react to situations, what I’m good at/ comfortable with, and what I find challenging. I’m sure you do, too.

We all gradually figure ourselves out instinctively as we go, seeing what works and learning from our mistakes. But what if we had evidence? Objective information to confirm this? And to help us properly understand others – how they think, what makes them tick, what they need to feel comfortable and how to work together as smoothly as possible? How much time and how many headaches would it save?

Face clock

I recently did a leadership training course through the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which involved completing a Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument profile – something I’d never heard of and which sounded pretty intimidating at first.

Through a series of questions and choices – from indicating your preferences in certain situations to how you hold a pencil and whether or not you get seasick (don’t ask – although the explanation afterwards did kind of make sense…) – the tool “develops a profile of your thinking preferences”. There are four basic thinking styles:

  • [BLUE]: logical, analytical, fact based, quantative
  • [GREEN]: organised, sequential, planned, detailed
  • [RED]: interpersonal, feeling-based, kinesthetic, emotional
  • [YELLOW]: holistic, integrating, intuitive, synesthising

Depending on your colour/ preferred style, you’ll naturally take different approaches to challenges, projects, people and all manner of situations. According to Hermann, “These preferences have an impact on almost everything you do. Every decision you make. Every problem you solve. Every time you go out and communicate.”

“These preferences have an impact on almost everything you do. Every decision you make. Every problem you solve. Every time you go out and communicate.”

The idea is that by using objectively measured data to build a picture of how you and your colleagues think, communicate and behave under pressure, it leads to increased understanding, which, in turn, leads to better team performance and better results. But watch the video and it gives a clearer picture (as well as some hilarious old school visuals, hammy music and classic moustaches…like a trip into Lost‘s secret bunker of scientists):

Getting the results was fascinating. Although on one hand it confirmed a lot that I’d already sensed (or people had told me) over the years, it also provided a lot of insight and clarity in terms of understanding how I can work better with other people – as well as the make-up of our team here at Stranger Collective.

Ned Hermann also talks about the importance of creative space. “If you have a whole organisation of people who are claiming their creative space, you have this enormous inner motivation and capability,” he says. Here here, Ned. Whether we’re yellows, reds, greens or blues, carving out creative space through Feeding is something that fuels everything we do. Glad that Ned’s internationally acclaimed science – now used by businesses all over the world – also confirms the instinct that we’ve had all along…

Space Ship

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