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The Way People Think

Everyone wants to be understood. But often times the people who we communicate our ideas to don't fully understand them. And the reason is not WHAT you think. It’s actually because of HOW you think. Let me explain. How you think is how you will share or explain your ideas with others. Because that’s the way it makes sense to you, so it must make sense this way for others, right? Wrong. What we forget, or maybe don't realize, is that everyone processes information differently. And those who don't process exactly like we do, may have trouble getting what we are saying.

What do I mean when I say 'people think differently?' The three main ways that people think are in:

  1. Words
  2. Pictures
  3. Patterns

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Everyone thinks in all of these ways to some extent, but one of them is typically stronger than the rest. You probably resonate with one of these. For me it is pictures. Whichever one is yours, often this will be the primary way you choose to share your ideas. When you do, you will probably resonate with those that think that way too. But for those of us that primarily think in the other ways, you have a good chance of missing them. That’s one reason why I love sketchnotes. It’s the perfect combination of words, images and patterns.

But there are other ways too.

Think about giving a presentation and you are trying to sell your idea to leadership. And let's say you primarily think in words. So you put together a powerpoint that has 20 slides and each of them just have bulleted text. It's more than likely that someone on the leadership team thinks in a different style. And they are going to have to work extra hard to get what you are saying. So they are spending most of their mental energy just trying to understand what you are presenting. If I was in that room, I would be creating mental pictures in my mind to make sense of all those words...that means I am probably going to miss some of the things you are saying because I am doing other mental gymnastics.

So what can you do?

Start with the method that is comfortable to you. If it's words, put those words on the slides like you would normally do. Then, go back through the presentation and ask yourself 'is there any imagery that can help clarify this message?' Maybe it is a simple graph. Or a picture of a landing page or a simple sketch. Focus on the places where it is most important for them to understand what you are saying. Then you will have words + visuals. 

But what about patterns?

Patterns can be any number of things. You can do an outline that refer back to throughout. You can even do similar slide layouts. Scroll back up on this post. I have a pattern that I am using here. I put one idea, break with a short question, and then start a new thought. It is simple and subtle but it will be a great way that can help people process. 

Remember, if people don't understand your idea, they will never know how good it is and they definitely won't fully buy into it. 

If you are that person that thinks and communicates primarily in words and creating the right visuals isn't in your wheelhouse, we can help. Drop us a line and let's chat about creating some custom visuals for you!

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