Think about it; how do you think?
Cognitive style or “thinking style” is a term used to describe the way individuals think, perceive, and remember information. Thinking styles are positive habits that contribute to better critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making. While no one thinking style is better than another, a balance of various styles results in better decision-making and optimal performance.
The type of thinker you are influences how you prefer to learn, collaborate, and problem solve. We all gather and process material differently. Professionals have long recognized, people learn in different ways. Some people learn more effectively by watching videos or visual presentations, while others respond to a more hands-on tactical approach. People process information in different ways and they also respond to information in unique but predictable ways.
Here’s an overview of thinking styles:
Reflective thinkers – understand best when they have time to think about what they’ve seen, heard, and read. They most often think before they act and tend to be introspective, quiet, and thoughtful. Reflective thinkers use deductive reasoning to narrow down the big picture to specific details and prefer to work alone.
Intuitive thinkers – understand best when they’re able to explore the relationship between things, and analyze the “whys” of ideas. First, they look at the big picture and then break it into details. They enjoy exploring the “what ifs” and finding ways to apply theories to facts. Intuitive thinkers work best in small groups and need time to analyze, and process information.
Sequential thinkers – understand best when they see the steps and logic behind the ideas. They prefer seeing how the details add up to the bigger picture and doing things in a logical, step-by-step order. Sequential thinkers prefer taking small chunks of information and seeing how it builds on what they already know and understand.
Global thinkers – understand best when they can see the whole picture at once. They are able to view the bigger picture and the details at the same time. Global thinkers make decisions and reach solutions quickly, and they don’t always think in logical steps. They work well in groups, prefer hands on projects, and frequent feedback from others.
We all use a variety of thinking styles in our daily lives, but we tend to favor some and rarely use others. Recognizing your preferred style will help you approach problems and decisions with the right mindset to be successful. Knowing your learning strengths and thinking style enhances your ability to effectively solve problems, collaborate, and increases personal and professional productivity.
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