Here are some quick tips to help you communicate with different thinkers.
A Quadrant: “Just the Facts”
To move towards the A quadrant: Value facts.
Thinkers who have a strong A-quadrant preference are focused on the bottom-line impact, data and facts to support decisions, technical knowledge and problem solving. They like to understand how things work and value analysis and critical thinking over emotional arguments. DO your homework. People with a strong preference for A-quadrant thinking expect you to know your stuff, be prepared, and have the data and research to back up your ideas. DON’T waste their time. Be succinct and precise, to the point and brief. They’re looking for well-articulated, logical solutions and like to simplify the complex. Meandering conversations and superfluous discussion will only cause them to tune out.
B Quadrant: “What’s the Plan?”
To move towards the B quadrant: Value form and structure.
People who prefer B-quadrant thinking actually need to be walked through what you’re doing, and they need to understand it in more of a step-by-step linear fashion. They value efficiency, processes, planning and structure. DO sweat the details. Strong B-quadrant thinkers are typically very organized in their own work, and they expect the same from you. Bring an agenda, outline sequential steps and follow-up activities, and be clear about what happens next, how it will happen and when. DON’T be unreliable. To be credible, you need to be viewed as organized, focused and accountable. Proofread your work. Be on time for meetings. Hit the deadlines while delivering accurate, high quality work. And follow up in a timely and efficient manner.
C Quadrant: “Show Me You Care About Me.”
To move towards the C quadrant: Value feelings.
Those with strong C-quadrant preferences will be more interested in engaging with you, building relationships and getting to know you. They’re looking for expressive communication, genuineness, support and collaboration. Rather than getting hung up on logic or theory, they care about personal experience and satisfaction. DO be authentic. People who prefer C-quadrant thinking are looking for genuine interaction, with no hidden agendas. Engage them with examples and stories, and look for points of common ground or interest to build authentic connections. DON’T miss the cues. Because C-quadrant thinkers are often very expressive, you can pick up in their gestures and animated expressions that they’re looking to engage with you. Make eye contact, keep it informal, and engage in supportive ways, showing them that you get what they’re looking for.
D Quadrant: “What Are the Possibilities?”
To move towards the D quadrant: Value flexibility.
Unlike the B quadrant, people who prefer D-quadrant thinking don’t want to get bogged down by the details; they’d rather see the big picture. Generally, they look for more creative concepts, visuals and use of imagination, and they like having the freedom to explore. DO focus on the vision.D-quadrant thinkers are looking for the “why.” Give them context, and be prepared to explore ideas with a strategic, future-focused perspective. Because they tend to use picture words in their interactions, use metaphors to artfully describe what you’re talking about. DON’T be rigid. Find ways to be flexible, since these thinkers are often looking for creative options and opportunities to experiment. To get buy-in and compliance with schedules and plans, try presenting them in more creative, visual ways, like using icons and colors and building in time for brainstorming and synthesizing ideas.
There’s no doubt it’s easier to communicate with people who think just like you do. But when you strive to communicate with and listen to all perspectives, you’ll have a better chance at getting your own messages across and truly hearing what others have to contribute. It can be an eye-opening experience when you realize, as one person told us, “Oh, she’s not trying to annoy me—that’s just the way she thinks!”