It Takes All Kinds

It can be incredibly frustrating to deal with someone who “just doesn’t get it.” When you’ve explained something five times and they still do it wrong. When there’s a problem and they are focusing on the wrong thing. Maybe they are missing the big picture. Maybe they missed an important detail. Or maybe they just don’t care. 

There is always the possibility that you are dealing with someone with “substandard intelligence.” There is also the possibility that they have some kind of mental disorder...

Most likely, it’s a matter of a conflict between a few basic individual differences. Cognitive types are based on four sets of orientations:

  1. What information we prefer to take in.
  2. What information we rely on most when making decisions.
  3. Where we direct most of our energy.
  4. How we prefer to interact with our environment.

These orientations combine to create cognitive styles and personality styles, and they each have benefits and blind spots. 

There are many benefits of having a systematic understanding basic personality and cognitive style differences, including:

  • Maximizing our own strengths.
  • Helping others to maximize their strengths.
  • Anticipating, overcoming, and/or planning around our own blind spots.
  • Anticipating and planning around the blind spots of others.
  • Effective communication
  • Effective collaboration
  • Building teams in which each member's strengths fit the team's tasks, and compensate for each other's blind spots.

Unfortunately we usually only think about these differences when there is a problem. Someone "drops the ball" due to a blind spot. Someone's has a preference that clashes with ours. Or their strengths don't line up with the environment they are in. So, over the next 3 posts I will highlight each of these basic personality and cognitive style differences.