Thinking Out Loud



Leaders and teams are constantly challenged by clients, customers, and themselves to think from several different angles:

  • Strategic
  • Creative
  • Collaborative
  • Innovative
  • Critical
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Design

Go to the dictionary, Google, or the gurus who stand as prime examples illustrating the desired thinking and you’ll likely be inspired to think differently—or think you should be. But what does it all mean? Are there some common denominators?

Too often company leaders circulate articles highlighting an approach or offer inspiration by basically saying, “Our customers want us to be more _______ , so let’s buckle down and be more _____ !” If you’re on the receiving end of these marching orders, you might feel inspired, but what are you going to do differently that will bring about the desired result?

This is where the Communication Styles Framework is invaluable. It outlines the seven ways we process information (think) and how that influences our communication.  Our default thinking usually parallels our processing strengths.

  1. Linguistic: words
  2. Logical: reasoning
  3. Kinesthetic: direct physical experience
  4. Auditory: sound
  5. Visual-Spatial: pictures, images
  6. Intrapersonal: knowledge about self
  7. Interpersonal: human relationship knowledge

To illustrate: If you have strong linguistic and logical muscles, they will guide your thinking: You’ll think in words and have a strong awareness of structure. If you challenge yourself to use other thinking muscles, however, new territory becomes available.  You might consider a more kinesthetic (sensory, hands-on) and visual-spatial approach: What could it look like and how does it integrate with other aspects?

Our strengths and challenges in these seven domains influence how we work, lead, problem-solve, relate, teach, and present. When we understand how these factors manifest in our behavior, we become more intentional and facile. Practically speaking, that means that we have a clearer relationship to the type of thinking we are inspired to do. We also know what we’re good at and what we confidently offer, and we can be realistic about weaknesses and seek out others who possess those as strengths.

Implied in this approach is that we don’t go it alone, trying to be more creative or strategic or innovative, etc. We work with the best of ourselves and the best of others to collaborate. The result is a better outcome that incorporates all kinds of thinking.

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