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How to Communicate Effectively with a “Thinker” – Seven Golden Facilitative Questions

 

How to Communicate With the Thinking Decider

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If you are at all familiar with my books or have attended any of my seminars, I have likely made the point that my doctoral research clearly suggested that of the four neurological predispositional scales in Jungian psychology that the Thinker – Feeler deciding scale is the most conflictual.

Kilmann and Thomas conducted a study of the MBTI, the contemporary indicator and application of Jung’s work on Typology, correlating it to three conflict instruments and found the Thinker – Feeler scale to be a significant contributor to conflict, while the other three dimensions did not significantly do so.

I have found that by speaking the specific language that is comfortable and compelling for Thinking Deciders, the Feeling Decider can better communicate with the Thinker.

I encourage Feelers to ask open-ended, problem solving questions, such as “What do you think we should do…?”

The Feeling Decider continues to ask this open-ended, problem solving question process and quite interestingly as the problem is being addressed analytically and logically in the conversation the Thinking Decider becomes more considerate, empathetic and understanding toward the Feeling Decider.

This happens without the Thinker realizing the change that has occurred in him/her.

This empathy, understanding and connection of course are precisely what the Feeling Decider wanted in the first place.

In other words, the Thinker took the Feeler where the Feeler wanted the Thinker to go, without strain or conflict.

Remember, this is not an exact science, but an art form.

It does not make things perfect, it makes them better.

At least it does so relative to what might otherwise have been the case had you not used your T:F facilitative language.

The Seven Golden Facilitative Questions

When you hit a Speed Bump (15% of the Time) with Thinkers

With “Thinkers”, the Answer is Always in the Question

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Here are the Seven Golden facilitative questions.

They are a remarkable and powerful way to facilitate – elevate the conversation, advance the relationship and create a transcendent resolution, one that has the best of what you both think but a solution that is better than either one of you previously had.

You can use these right off with Thinkers and after you have facilitated the emotional state of mind of the Feeler.

These are not to be applied sequentially but in response to the target person’s last reaction to your question to them.

1. What makes you say that…?

2. There must be something going on here that I don’t see…

3. There is something I would like to tell you but am not sure how to say it…

4. If you disagree, do not tell them they are wrong. Instead ask the following:

A. What is the upside of that (your) idea…?

B. What is the downside of that (your) idea….?

5. How do we work this out so we both get what we want?

6. How should I have said (asked) that to (of) you?

7. What do you see about this that I do not see…?

 

Two More Questions for Poor and Obstinate Performers

The goal is to get them to see that they are the problem.

Here are two questions that will do that.

1. “Jimmy, when you do this, what do you think happens to the rest of the team, organization?

2. If that doesn’t work try, “Jimmy, if you keep doing this what do you think is going to happen to you?”

What does “The Answer is Always in the Question” Mean?

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We human beings talk to ourselves all the time, so much, in fact, that it’s possible to categorize our self-talk.

Some of it is positive, as in “I’m strong,” “I’ve got this,” or “I will be the world’s greatest salesman.”

Some of it, for a few of us, much of it, is negative. “I’m too weak to finish this race” or “I’ve never been good at math” or “There’s no way I can sell these encyclopedias.”

But whether the talk is chest-thumping or ego-bashing, it tends to be declarative.

It states what is or what will be.

However, in sticky situations that seem inevitably to call for traditional pumping ourselves up, use self-talk is neither positive nor declarative.

Instead, Move Yourself and Your Team, by Asking this Question

Can We Fix It?

Devotees of modern day self help gurus might shudder at allowing this shaft of doubt, questioning one’s ability to shine through our psychic windows.

But social scientists are discovering that positive self-talk is generally more effective than negative self-talk.

There is a “but” however.

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“But” the most Effective Self-Talk of all Doesn’t Merely Shift Emotions

It shifts linguistic categories.

It moves from making statements to asking questions.

And questions take you on the express train right to the Thinking Neocortical brain.

You are sped by and past the limbic, feeling brain, pass everything.

Do not pass go.

Questions take you to the solution driven part of the brain.

They (questions) take the target person where you would like them to go.

There is Actually Research That Supports This Notion of the Efficacy of Questions

Three researchers, Ibrahim Senay and Dolores Albarracín of the University of Illinois, along with Kenji Noguchi of the University of Southern Mississippi, confirmed the efficacy of “interrogative self-talk” in a series of experiments they conducted in 2010.

They gave a series of questions to be solved (for example, rearranging the letters in “when” to spell “hewn”),

On average, the self-questioning group solved nearly 50 percent more puzzles than the self-affirming group.

People who’d written “Will” I solved nearly twice as many anagrams as those who’d written I will, Will, or I.

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In Subsequent Experiments the Basic Pattern Held

Those who approached a task with questioning self-talk outperformed those who employed the more conventional juice-myself-up declarative self-talk.

The reasons are twofold.

1. The interrogative, by its very form, elicits answers

2. Nestled within those answers are strategies for actually carrying out the task.

So, when you ask a question to anyone, especially a Thinker, you are asking their brain to do what it was biologically and cortically designed to do.

This is why the answer is always in the question.

So the next time you are standing at the first tee, don’t declare to yourself, “I can do this.”

Ask yourself, “Can I do this?”

Watch what happens to your brain.

How the Three Determinants Affect our Communication

In other places I have spoken about the Three Determinants that make people do what they do.

They are of course:

1. The “Me” that is my “System”

2. The “Me” that is my “Situation”

3. The “Me” that is my “Self”

The diagram below shows how we can use language to incorporate those three determinants for “Thinkers and Feelers”

Here it is applied to the “Thinker”.

In this article and the several previous articles we have tried to establish, I trust successfully, that a major filter for people is how they like to make decisions.

Some tend to use logic mostly; we call them “Thinkers”.

Some tend to use emotion mostly; we call them “Feelers”.

These are biological predispositions and need to be facilitated if good communication is to occur and a good, mutually beneficial agreement is to be reached.

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Communicating with or Facilitating a “Thinker”

To communicate effectively with the Thinker, ask what they think.

With the Thinker, starting at the small ‘Self’ circle, show curiosity as to their thinking through all three circles by asking what they think.

You do the same, in circle two, ask what do they think with respect to their “Situational Self’.

And you then do the same in circle three, and ask what they think with respect to their “Systemic Self’.

This communication process is very effective with “Thinkers” because it calms the reptilian reaction in their brain and invites them to do and be exactly what they, their brain, really like to do.

But it does take some time and effort.

It will not come easily but the results are well worth the effort.

So that’s how to effectively communicate with or facilitate the “Thinker”.

This is a life long learning process and as with so many aspects in human relations is more art form than science, so don’t be too hard on yourself and good luck.

For more on this topic, we recommend the following

Book

Execute Your Communication
Skills or They Will Die

The Key to Superior Personal and
Professional Communication

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