Have you ever met someone and wondered why – despite how hard you try – you just can’t seem to get along? Many of us experience this, and it’s not always because we don’t share the same hobbies or interests as our new acquaintance. Perhaps the main reason this occurs is simply because we think differently.
There are no bad or good, right or wrong ways of thinking. Just different ways. More on this shortly.
In the wake of COVID-19, many are working from home for the very first time. And five months in, working or studying from home and relying on technology to keep in touch with loved ones may be starting to feel like second-nature.
But as the months roll on, you might be starting to notice points of friction in your relationships with family members. We’re not necessarily used to sharing an office with our partner or children. The opposite is true of our colleagues and clients. When we meet with new colleagues or clients it’s not quite the same when you can’t reach for a handshake. So how do we get a better understanding of others when we’re technically so far apart?
If we could get inside the minds of and ‘see’ how our family, colleagues and clients prefer to think, then perhaps we could enhance those relationships. We do this using Whole Brain® Thinking.
What is Whole Brain® Thinking?
The Whole Brain® Model is a metaphor for how we think. According to the Whole Brain® framework, each of us prefer a different way of thinking. Each style of thinking can be categorised into four thinking styles – analytical, practical, relational, experimental – as represented in the model. While we all have access to each quadrant, generally people will favour one, two or three.
The four-colour quadrant graphic and Whole Brain® are registered trademarks of Herrmann Global, LLC. ©2015 Herrmann Global, LLC
Organisations typically apply the Whole Brain® Model and the HBDI® to specific thinking and people-related initiatives. They do this to ensure the task or problem has the variety of thinking styles required to best meet the needs of that situation.
What are the four preferences of the Whole Brain® Model?
Each quadrant is made up of several clusters of specialised thinking:
- The Upper Left Blue A Quadrant specialises in logical, analytical, quantitative, fact-based thinking.
- The Lower Left Green B Quadrant focuses on details and specialises in planning, organising, and sequencing information.
- The Lower Right Red C Quadrant places a priority on feelings and the interpersonal, emotional and kinesthetic aspects of a situation.
- The Upper Right Yellow D Quadrant synthesises and integrates information and is more intuitive and holistic in its thinking.
As you read the above, a few family members or colleagues probably popped into your head as you thought ‘yes that sounds exactly like X!’. We all draw similarities between the behaviours we observe and thus make assumptions about how people prefer to think. With this in mind, we should be able to make some conscious efforts as to how we can improve both working from home and our family life.
Using Whole Brain® Thinking when working from home
Our work environment has changed significantly. Many of us are accustomed to ‘switching off’ from work when we get home, and enjoying time with our family, children or housemates. But given many of us are now working from home, those same people are now our colleagues, and perhaps our biggest distraction!
Leveraging the HBDI® and the awareness of your profile will help you be more effective in how you use your thinking to accomplish what you want to accomplish – for example, by paying more attention to what other people need or by paying attention to what the situation requires.
You could use your knowledge to undertake tasks that are least associated with your preferred thinking style early in the day to ensure you have the most energy available to get them completed. This can ease the burden of a less productive afternoon and stop the snowball effect of stress building up and impacting upon those personal relationships at home.
Easing tension using Whole Brain® Thinking
The HBDI® asks questions that are related to both home and work situations and seeks to represent your total self. So it’s possible to use the knowledge from your profile to help both your work and personal life.
The awareness of one’s own thinking style and the thinking styles of others can be used to make our lives a little easier – especially when there is so much stress and uncertainty. We know that when we have to use our less preferred thinking styles that this can use a considerable amount of energy. Thus understanding the way our partner, child or housemate prefers to think can go a long way in helping ease the tension that comes with being around them 24/7.
Take for example some tasks around the home. If we practice activities that are best suited to our preferred way to think we’ll all have a little more energy to get through the lockdowns and power through our work. For example, if there are a bunch of boxes you’ve been meaning to unpack then perhaps this is best suited to someone with a higher preference for the more organised and practical B-quadrant thinking. Or if you prefer C-quadrant thinking, an important phone call to organise a better deal on your insurance might be better suited to you. It’s all about making things a little easier to get through a very challenging period.
So now that we know the benefits of applying Whole Brain® Thinking to the wider aspects of our life, how do we go about identifying and communicating with the different styles? Using the HBDI® (or by using a strong guesstimate) you could try the following.
The Upper Left Blue A Quadrant: The Analytical Mindset
The upper left A quadrant typifies logical processing, is clear and to the point. It is typical of an analytical thinker to answer the phone and announce their name. They don’t want to waste time with anything warm and fuzzy and if you’re telling them a story… keep it short!
These thinkers are the ones that are asking for the facts and figures, and are interested in what decisions are being made during the nitty gritty of the pandemic. They are following a logical process to get through what needs to be done.
Communicating with them
A blue thinker will often focus on the ‘What’.
- What are the facts and figures?
- What is the bottom line?
Analytical thinkers will be under significant stress as a result of COVID-19. When things are changing so rapidly, it can be hard for them to remain in control. At home, be careful not to invade their personal space, and ensure they have time to make decisions. If you want to have an important discussion with them, set a time to do this, do not spring anything upon them. Lastly, blue thinkers will appreciate when you ‘walk the talk’, as opposed to ‘talk the talk’, so keep this in mind when sharing a space more often than usual.
The Lower Left Green B Quadrant: The Practical Mindset
The lower left B quadrant is the structured and organised quadrant. The green thinker will often be immaculately organised, everything has its place and purpose. You’ll often see a to do list on their desk or fridge, and they often get done what they say they will.
When you host an event, the green thinker is often the one who arrives five minutes early. These thinkers are usually very calm, and they like stability and security. They are the ones minimising risk and focussing on how to best keep things ‘business as usual’.
Communicating with them
A green thinker will often focus on the ‘How’.
- How will this work?
- How will we get the desired outcome?
Green thinkers will be challenged by the suddenness of the pandemic. They do not necessarily like change, so this can cause some serious stress. It’s important wherever possible to get them involved in planning and preparing for change so it becomes less daunting. We should be calm and provide assurance to green thinkers, they need to know ‘everything is going to be okay’. Listen to them and be reliable when they ask something of you.
For our personal relationships with green thinkers we need to acknowledge that trust and friendship will happen at a relatively slow pace. So if you’re new to this person, don’t feel worried if things seem a little distant. We should always make an effort to get to know them on a deeper level. If making or proposing a significant change, show them step-by-step how you will go about that change. Lastly, when a green thinker opens up to you, ensure to respond sensibly and sensitively as this means a lot to them.
The Lower Right Red C Quadrant: The Relational Mindset
The lower right C quadrant has an emotional, feeling and interpersonal orientation. A red thinker is generally intune with their own emotions and those of others. They like to teach, are supportive and love to chat. On the contrary to blue thinkers, when red thinkers answer the phone they want to know how you are, how your weekend was, how your partner is… they’re pretty much prepared to chat just about anything.
A red thinker will often walk up to you, touch you on the shoulder and ask ‘how are you going?’. The pandemic is a difficult situation for red thinkers. Because they’re not physically close to others they’re missing the impromptu coffees and catch ups with friends and family on the weekends. A red thinker’s motto at the moment may be something like: ‘thank goodness for video calls!’.
Communicating with them
A red thinker will often focus on the ‘Who’.
- Who are the people involved?
- Who will this effect?
When living with red thinkers, we should factor in that at the start of any task they’re going to want to chat for five minutes before diving into it. They will be optimistic during these difficult times and value when you talk about getting through things together. A red thinker will appreciate it if you demonstrate you like them and they will be highly motivated if you compliment them. Be careful with criticising reds, they can sometimes be overly self critical.
Red thinkers will be trying to hold the weight of the world on their shoulders during the pandemic. You should show them that you’re interested in what they have to say. Focus on being positive and upbeat, and if a negative discussion can wait a bit… maybe save it for when things are a little easier. Always give them your presence, attention and time and a red thinker will highly value you.
The Upper Right Yellow D Quadrant: The Experimental Mindset
The upper right D quadrant is associated with imaginative qualities. Yellow thinkers often have a very entrepreneurial mindset, they question the status quo. Others may describe them as risk takers or rule breakers. When you have a conversation with them, you’ll often start somewhere and go off on tangents and forget where you started. As opposed to our green thinkers, yellow thinkers don’t like lists… and if they do have one there will be arrows, scribbles and drawings all over it.
Yellow thinkers are the ones that arrive late to an event because they got caught up in a creative process. Their home or office space may appear cluttered, but they love it as they are often multitaskers. Yellow thinkers often feel restricted by strict guidelines and prefer to be spontaneous.
Communicating with them
A yellow thinker will often focus on the ‘Why’.
- Why is this important?
- Why can’t we do it this way?
Right now a number of yellow thinkers will be in their element. Where others see adversity, yellow thinkers see opportunity. They’re able to adapt and are more capable of seeing and appreciating the big-picture vision. You may need to help a yellow thinker by steering them onto the right path when they drift too far away, but find the right balance to get the value of their creative mindset.
You should be prepared to lead a fast-paced lifestyle with a yellow thinker. If you hold them back, or encourage them to slow down they become frustrated with you. You should learn what the goals of a yellow thinker are, and support them in achieving them. Wherever possible, you should provide options to these thinkers and let them make the decision. Lastly, provide them a safe space to express their ideas and listen to why they see things the way they do.
How to incorporate Whole Brain® Thinking into your life for better communication
In practice, Whole Brain® Thinking teaches us how to recognise the thinking patterns and styles of our colleagues, family and friends so we can adjust our communication style as needed to enhance relationships.
Completing the HBDI® assessment provides you with a comprehensive report that interprets to what degree you think in the four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model. This self awareness not only teaches you how to get the best out of yourself, but how you can bring out the best in others.
The HBDI® is a tool that we can all use for better communication. To find out how to bridge the communication gap between yourself and your colleagues, family and friends get in touch with Herrmann today.