Building Bridges - Using Thinking Styles to Facilitate Communication

Building Bridges - Using Thinking Styles to Facilitate Communication



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Building Bridges - Using Thinking Styles to Facilitate Communication by Eric Svendsen, Virginia Svendsen

Getting cooperation and agreement from all types of people can be challenging. Yet, it can be as simple as changing the way you phrase a question. Virginia Boylan and Eric Svendsen, communication experts, explain how five thinking styles shape the way we communicate with others. You'll learn specific techniques for building communication bridges so you can work more effectively with people who use each thinking style.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781571250537
Publisher: Help Desk Institute
Publication date: 01/20/2000
Pages: 35
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Are people difficult? Or just different?

Hortense is a stereotypical Stupid Tourist. She thinks everyone in Egypt can understand her as long as she speaks English very, very slowly. Since she arrived last week, she's received nothing but blank stares, hostility, and high prices. Her husband Ralph is simply insensitive. He bothered to learn a little of the local language, but nearly landed in a Cairo jail when he tried to tell an off-color joke. The couple vows to stay home in the future; foreigners are entirely too unfriendly and rude.

It's easy to laugh at these two, as they try to force the rest of the world to communicate on their own terms. But we often make the same mistake in our workplaces every day. Though we share common languages, and respect each other's cultural differences, we often assume that everyone uses the same thinking style. When we have trouble communicating, we feel that the other person is being difficult.

Differences in thinking styles pose communication barriers nearly as serious as differences in culture. But take heart. There are fewer thinking styles than cultures, and they're a lot easier to understand.

Thinking styles can reduce friction

Our thinking styles can bring us together or keep us apart, because they determine how we solve problems and communicate. It's pleasant and productive to work with people who share your thinking style. They're receptive to your ideas and enthusiastic about new assignments. Together, you see eye-to-eye on what to do and how to do it. However, it can be exasperating to work with people who use different thinking styles. Make a proposal to one person, and you get stony silence. Make the same proposal to another, and you get an argument on every point.

Understanding thinking styles helps people work effectively in meetings and teams. You can communicate and cooperate more effectively with your co-workers when you learn to work with their different thinking styles. If you think of your support center as a machine that produces customer service, then your understanding of thinking styles is one of the lubricants that helps that machine run smoothly and productively.

As support professionals become more proactive and involved in problem prevention, they also find themselves working on group projects and attending more meetings: meetings with managers, meetings with network control staff, meetings with customers to hammer out service level agreements, and meetings with human resource departments to determine training needs. These meetings will be more effective when you understand how to recognize and work with the thinking styles of the participants.

In this focus book, you'll learn how five basic thinking styles affect the way we work and communicate. You'll discover that getting cooperation and agreement from someone can be as simple as changing the way you phrase a question.

Do you know these people?

Imagine you're a support center manager, and you've just called a staff meeting to propose a major change in your department's structure. As you finish your presentation, you ask for feedback from the group. Looking around at your staff, you notice different responses and reactions. (See figure 1-1.) You're getting your usual staff-meeting headache, but it could be worse. At least you have some support from three out of five people. You think you can get the project done without Andrea's help, because her silent treatment doesn't contribute much in the first place. And you think you can ignore Sammy's ranting, though it can really be a pain. It would be great if all five were in agreement with you on this project, but wishful thinking won't make it so. Some of these people are simply too difficult to work with.

But are they really difficult, or do they simply think and respond differently than you? In Chapter 2, you'll learn how to recognize the behaviors that characterize the five basic thinking styles...

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Are people difficult? Or just different? ..... 1
Thinking styles can reduce friction ..... 2
Do you know these people? ..... 2

Chapter 2: The five basic thinking styles ..... 5
The synthesist: The devil's advocate ..... 5
The idealist: Consensus builder ..... 7
The pragmatist: Short-term solutions ..... 7
The analyst: Master of deduction ..... 8
The realist: "Been there, done that." ..... 10
Recognizing the basic thinking styles ..... 10

Chapter 3: Facilitating communication
One thinking style? Or several? ..... 14
There's more to communication than thinking style ..... 14
The synthesist ..... 15
The idealist ..... 17
The pragmatist ..... 17
The analyst ..... 20
The realist ..... 20
You're ready to put these ideas to work ..... 23

Chapter 4: Putting thinking styles to work ..... 25
Let's go back to the meeting ..... 25
How do you begin? ..... 25
Build bridges, not islands ..... 28

Appendix 1: Where to learn more ..... 29

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