Problem Solving and Influencing Skills: strengthening your lesser preferred thinking styles

By Carolyn Crawford

One of the reasons I thought I’d focus on this topic is that I’m occassionally asked in our ‘Simply Influencing’ workshop ( how we can strengthen those thinking processes associated with the part of our brain that we least prefer to use. By way of example, there are more right-brained folk who are interested in building their left-brain thinking and vice versa. 


The other reason however is that I’m not asked that question nearly as much as I would perhaps expect and I wonder if that’s because we’re of course comfortable using our preferred thinking style and don’t particularly want to make the effort to build our skills in other areas.


The following four blogs focus on exercises we can experiment with to ‘build strength’ in thinking styles that may be foreign to us and help us experience what it’s like to be someone who prefers to think from that quadrant – walk a mile in their shoes in effect.


The exercises are lifted directly from the ‘Understanding Your Whole Brain’ booklet that you would have received if you’ve done an NBI profile previously, but I often wonder if they’re read or acted upon as much as they could be.  They take relatively little effort and open up a world of insight and possibility. 


Starting as we invariably do with the left-brain cerebral cortex, I’ve copied below the exercises you can find on p25 of your booklet.  I’ll copy up the other four quadrant exercises over the next couple of weeks.


A quick highlight that the greatest opportunity and benefit can be gleaned from practicing a few exercises from your LEAST preferred quadrant.



  1. Be a politician – give a three minute speech on why people should vote for you or on three things that you have achieved for the local community – in factual terms of course!
  2. Minimalise your office.  Be functional: Have only 1 picture – provided it has a reason for being there, no papers, no ornaments, no personal possessions other than those showing achievements etc.
  3. Clean our your purse and wallet, organise and keep only the essentials for one week.
  4. Become a ‘selling your house’ consultant – change 10 things to ready your home to be sold. Evaluate the potential increase in sales price s a result.
  5. You are at a sales meeting.  You have 5 minutes.  State and support 5 reasons to introduce whole brain thinking in the company and state how you will measure performance.
  6. Prepare and Executive Summary of YOU!  Who you are (100 words or less); what you’ve done; and what you can do to improve someone else.
  7. Give a poor performing employee an evaluation – with no eye contact; little explanation; list of items to improve upon; give them the consequences of not improving (perhaps just practice this on a friend to see what it feels like rather than doing it in reality!)
  8. Don’t speak over lunch or coffee – no eye contact, or conversation, but do something productive (read paper, make calls etc).  Again, perhaps you could try a small amount of this in moderation rather than lose a friend or colleague by going too far with it.  
  9. Read the Financial Times or Financial Review.  Choose 5 shares and plot their progress of 6 weeks.  If you make a net gain, buy one of the shares.


Back with part 2 next week.  Happy practicing and please send through any stories about how you went and what you learnt from the experience.

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