Reason, Emotion, and You

You live for spreadsheets… order… logic. You have just finished your list of things to accomplish today (and the amount of time you can spend on each task)… It’s one of those full days. And then, your direct report comes into your office crying and needing to talk.

Or, you are driven by emotion and sometimes that drives how you make decisions. You have set up a meeting to talk to your direct report about their career goals – you’re looking forward to brainstorming and working together to really hash out a plan of attack. They come in with a list of two things they want to see changed in the team and three things they would like to accomplish. It feels like there is no conversation to be had.

How do you talk?

Understanding the psychology of how you and your direct reports think can bring insight both in how to talk with each other and how to ask questions to engage with different parts of the brain.

People who predominately use the left side of the brain usually solve problems logically and sequentially- looking at all the parts of something individually. People who to use the right side of the brain more often, solve problems with hunches- seeking out patterns and looking at the whole.

There are different ways you can word questions to engage different parts of the brain – asking why a presentation went the way that it did will typically create a sequential response vs. asking how can you change the presentation next time will typically cause someone to think about creative and new ideas.

Here is a 30 second brain test that can be used as a base line of which side of your brain you tend to use more (maybe see if your direct report can take it too!). This can give you a starting point in understanding how you and your direct reports will more naturally respond to a situation.

Understanding more of how people think (and the psychology behind it) can help to bring clarity on why people say or do the things they do.

If you are interested in learning more about right and left brained thinking, Dr. John Robert Dew from the University of Alabama wrote this fascinating academic article.

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