Your Thinking Determines Your Results – What Kind of Thinker Are You? 
By Alexandra S. Jackiw, CPM®, CAPS, C3P

Scientists have identified two main streams of information processing  — perception and ordering — and four thinking styles.  Let’s explore those four thinking styles in more depth and help you identify your own unique thinking style.

Realists or Concrete Sequential (CS) thinkers are based in reality.  They process information in an ordered, sequential, linear way.  To them, reality consists of what they can detect through their physical sense of sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell.  They notice and recall details easily and remember facts, specific information, formulas, and rules with ease.  “Hands on” is a good way for these people to learn.  If you are Concrete Sequential, build on your organizational strengths.  Provide yourself with details.  Break your projects down into specific steps.  Set up quiet work environments.

REALIST (Concrete Sequential)
Strengths/preferences: Weaknesses/dislikes:
Likes clear, detailed instructions Dislikes being wrong
Wants concrete timelines and goals Is not a fan of brainstorming
Has a black and white outlook Is not very creative or imaginative
Is a busy, “can’t sit still” type Sometimes comes across as dismissive or arrogant
Looks for the next challenge Struggles with abstract discussions
Prefers a quiet, orderly environment Struggles with doing things in a way that is not “the norm”
Can take any situation or project and make it better by following ordering steps  

 

Analysts or Abstract Sequential (AS) thinkers love the world of theory and abstract thought.  They like to think in terms of concepts and analyze information.  They make great philosophers and research scientists.  It is easy for them to zoom in on what is important, such as key points and significant details.  Their thinking processes are logical, rational, and intellectual.  A favorite activity for AS thinkers is reading, and when a project needs to be researched, they are very thorough at it.  Generally, they prefer to work alone rather than in groups.  If you are Abstract Sequential, give yourself exercises in logic.  Feed your intellect.  Steer yourself toward highly structured situations.

ANALYST (Abstract Sequential)
Strengths/preferences: Weaknesses/dislikes:
Needs time to slowly digest complex processes Reluctant to take risks
Likes to mull over problems before reaching a solution Struggles to express emotions or deal with emotions of others
Likes “out-of-the-box” thinking Afraid to appear foolish or uninformed
Learns best in quiet places without distractions Can appear uncooperative in groups
Enjoys learning for the sake of learning Dislikes quick turnarounds
Wants recognition for intellect Is uncomfortable with sudden deadlines

 

Experimenters or Concrete Random (CR) thinkers like to try out new ways of doing things.  Like Concrete Sequentials, they are based in realty, but are willing to take more of a trial-and-error approach.  Because of this, they often make the intuitive leaps necessary for true creative thought.  They have a strong need to find alternatives and to do things in their own way.  If you are a Concrete Random, use your divergent thinking ability.  Believe that it is good to see things from more than one viewpoint.  Put yourself in a position to solve problems but give yourself deadlines.  Accept your need for change.  Try and work with people who value divergent thinking.

EXPERIMENTER (Concrete Random)
Strengths/preferences: Weaknesses/dislikes:
Is a quick thinker who takes a hands-on approach Dislikes detailed instructions or documentation
Prefers working alone Dislikes rigid processes and routines
Reaches conclusions based on intuition Is notorious for getting off track
Loves competition Tends to ignore instructions
Is a highly curious, out-of-the-box thinker Struggles with prioritizing
Known for unusual thought processes  
Is comfortable with trial and error approach  

 

Collaborators or Abstract Random (AR) thinkers organize information through reflection and thrive in unstructured, people-oriented environments.  The “real world” for Abstract Random learners is the world of feelings and emotions.  The AR’s mind absorbs ideas, information, and impressions and organizes them through reflection.  They remember best if information is personalized.  They feel constricted when they are subjected to a very structured environment.  If you are an Abstract Random thinker, use your natural ability to work with others.  Recognize how strongly emotions influence your concentration.  Build on your strength of learning by association.  Look at the big picture first.  Be careful to allow enough time to finish the job.  Remind yourself to do things using plenty of visual clues, such as colored stickers pasted up where you will see them.

COLLABORATOR (Abstract Random)
Strengths/preferences: Weaknesses/dislikes:
Has strong relationship building skills – likes groups Dislikes competitive or dictatorial environments
Is friendly and sensitive to others’ feelings/emotions Is held back by fear of being disliked
Learns best when sharing or collaborating Reacts poorly to criticism either perceived or real
Can juggle multiple projects Takes things personally
Learns best when given leeway to be independent and creative Struggles when working with perfectionists or to tight deadlines

 

We all bring different talents and perspectives to our jobs.  Because our thinking styles further amplify how we respond in the work environment, it is important to not only know and understand our own unique thinking styles, but those of our co-workers as well.  This can greatly improve internal communications, employee development, and customer relations.

If you’d like to take time to identify your primary and secondary thinking styles, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll send you a link to a simple test that will help you assess what kind of thinker you are.