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Thinking Styles measures your preference for Left Brain Logical and Right Brain Creative Thinking. Our chapter for this month explores how your thinking preferences can affect how you approach problem solving and techniques for improving your motivation.

Left and Right Brain
Some people are aware of another sort of thinking which ...leads to those simple ideas that are obvious only after they have been thought of ...the term "lateral thinking" has been coined to describe this other sort of thinking, "vertical thinking" is used to denote the conventional logical process"
Edward de Bono

These thinking styles relate to which of the brain's hemisphere you naturally access when thinking. Are you creative and spontaneous in your thinking or do you think things through systematically and logically?

Left Brain Thinking
People with a Left Brain dominance have a preference for order and logical sequence. They are easy to identify because they will always start at the beginning, work systematically through a task and wherever possible they will always finish what they have started. If you interrupt them half way through they will start again, - from the beginning! This can be very frustrating for their opposites – those with a Right Brain dominance, but is of course completely logical to them!

Not easily distracted, Left Brain thinkers are usually highly organized, focused and thorough individuals who find it easy to concentrate on the task in hand. They like writing lists and are very good at time management, always arriving on time for meetings and appointments. In fact they usually hate tardiness, untidiness or sloppiness in any form and this is most evident when you examine their working space, which is invariably neat and tidy. They set themselves their own deadlines, starting at the beginning and allowing themselves time to finish often well before the due date. These traits are in stark contrast to someone with a Right Brain preference, whose working space can best be described as 'creative' but will appear 'chaotic and untidy' to the untrained eye.

Left Brained thinkers do not multi-task, they like to do one thing at a time and do it properly. If you give them too many tasks, or try to hurry them, they will become flustered and possibly stressed. They excel in any job role which requires a logical and tenacious approach, especially where they also have the opportunity to 'tie up lose ends' and ensure that the job is properly finished and completed to their satisfaction.

Management and motivation
As managers, Left Brained thinkers are focused and logical, like things to be done thoroughly and will expect reports or proposals to be sequential and ordered.

To manage these people give them clear instructions as they dislike ambiguity, and ideally, give them job roles where they can complete tasks, especially as they actually enjoy administrative and maintenance activities.

To practice developing your Left Brained, logical thinking skills:
•  fill in a form starting at the beginning and systematically working through to the end
•  write a list of things you need to do
•  use the phone listening with your right ear as this connects directly with your left brin hemisphere

Right Brain Thinking
Right Brain thinkers have a natural ability to multi-task, and are often found doing half a dozen things at the same time. These people think and work very quickly, however, they can be easily distracted and may have a tendency to cut corners.

They are frequently highly creative and artistic, excelling in job roles which include an element of design or where they can give their imagination a free rein. They sometimes dislike rules and boundaries feeling that this limits their creativity. They do not function well in environments they perceive as 'over-controlling', in which case they cease to function.

"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries"
A.A. Milne

Time management is not easy for a Right Brain thinkers and they prefer to be given deadlines. Even then they have a tendency to leave everything until the last minute and stay up late or get up early in order to finish on time. They are invariably late as they will try to fit too many things into too short a timeframe. To be on time they have to over-compensate and so will arrive actually arrive early.

"I've been on a calendar, but never on time"
Marilyn Monroe

You may have noticed for yourself that "creative thinkers think backwards". By this I mean that if you ask them a question, they will very quickly "go to the end" and know the answer. If you ask them to explain how they worked that answer out, they will have to "think backwards" to the starting point of their thinking and then run their calculation more logically forwards. This more logical "left brained" approach of "thinking forwards from beginning to end" takes them much longer to do, in contrast with their natural right brain thinking which is very quick indeed.

Creative thinkers are not great list people, preferring to carry information around in their heads rather than write it down. This is a mistake as their brain cannot distinguish between what they have done (and can mentally tick off) and what they have only thought about doing. Consequently they often forget tasks and may need to be reminded by colleagues.

Management and motivation
To manage right brain thinkers, motivate them by giving them variety in their jobs and allowing them to be creative in their own way. Assign them target dates and deadlines to work to, allowing them some flexibility regarding when they do a task, remembering to check progress from time to time.

As managers they tend to be high-energy individuals who can successfully manage a large number of people and projects at the same time. However, they can lose focus as they switch between projects and may need to be reminded of the organisation's immediate priorities.


To practice developing your Right Brain thinking skills:
•  draw a picture using colour in some way
•  spend some time daydreaming
•  give your imagination a free rein to re-design your garden or a room in your house
•  brainstorm ideas for a party
•  tell a story, making it up as you go


Whole Brain Thinking
It is worth writing a short note on 'Whole Brain Thinking'. This is when you access both left and right brain hemispheres at the same time and is one of the key principles of accelerated learning techniques.

To connect both brain hemispheres for 'whole brain thinking', listen to music, ideally the kind of music which mimics the brain's alpha state brain wave patterns such as baroque music and most of Mozart's work. This is why Don Campbell developed the term the "Mozart effect" to describe increased performance by school children after listening to Mozart's music.

Another exercise is to put your hands together and press your fingertips and thumbs together applying gentle rhythmic pressure, opening your hands if that is more comfortable. This brain gym exercise crosses the body's natural "meridian line" which runs vertically down the centre of the body and hence links both brain hemispheres.

Research has shown that whole brain thinking is more effective than accessing either of the two brain hemispheres independently. If we think about some of the people we would consider to be historical geniuses such as Leonardo da Vinci or Einstein, it becomes obvious that they displayed both 'left brain logical' and 'right brain creative' talents simultaneously.

For more information on whole brain thinking, Accelerated Learning and brain gym refer to Chapters 20 and 22.

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody has thought".
Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi

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