Understanding our thinking preferences can be a light bulb moment, providing insight into why we work the way we do, and what our strengths are. This is particularly important for freelancers who move from working in a team environment to working on their own. I have found it helpful in identifying my strengths and therefore the services I offer through my business, and who my ideal clients are.
It can also provide clues about how to present information in a way that will engage your audience, depending on their thinking preferences.
I learnt about thinking preferences in a presentation from Julie Varney, of the Business Development Company. This is one of the tools she uses when working with businesses, and is called Hermann Whole Brain Thinking.
The four categories within this system are:
Blue – rational/factual. Likes numbers, facts, data, logic, order. Good at financial and engineering work.
Green – process oriented. Gets things done. Likes to have a plan and get on with it. Not keen on airy fairy stuff. Organised and timely. Likely to have a tidy desk and colour coded filing systems.
Red – feeling oriented. Very connected with other people and emotions. Like to express themselves. Like to know everyone is on board, engaged, in agreement, and connected. Like teaching.
Yellow – experimental. Big picture, innovative, new ideas, like to play and conceptualise. Don’t like structure.
Commonalities: Blue and Yellow favour conceptual thinking and are comfortable with risk, Blue and Green are organised and structured, Green and Red favour less risky options, Red and Yellow favour big picture thinking.
People can have one, two, three or four thinking preferences. Three percent of the population are whole brained (favour all four thinking styles equally), 30% are triple dominant (favour three thinking styles), 60% are double dominant ( favour two thinking styles) and 7% are single dominant.
Awareness of the different thinking styles can be useful when communicating with someone – to adapt the way we speak to more closely match their thinking style, ie. whether they talk about vision (yellow), the numbers/research (blue), process (green) or who’s involved (red).
Since listening to Julie's talk, I have become increasingly aware of my predominant strength in the green area - and can see how this plays out in my work life. It helps me to see where it's helpful to partnership with others. I particularly enjoy working with 'blue' people who have indepth knowledge and high levels of skills with data and analysis, helping them to share that information in a way that makes sense to people who can benefit from their detailed knowledge.