by Susie Leonard Weller
Are you in sync with the people you love?
Or do you always feel at odds?
Whether you get along with partners, children, and colleagues may depend on how your brain—and theirs—process information. In Why Don't You Understand? Improve Family Communication with the 4 Thinking Styles, Susie Leonard Weller explains how our thinking styles affect all of our interactions. Understanding how our brains work can make us better lovers, spouses, parents, friends and professionals.
As Michael Gurian, author of Nurture the Nature and Boys and Girls Learn Differently, said after reviewing Weller's manuscript:
"This explanation of the four thinking styles is an important new tool in helping us understand each other. In everyday language, Weller shows how we can use the results of recent research to improve relationships between partners, between parents and children, and between siblings."
Why Don't You Understand? describes the logical thinking style and its opposite, relational; and practical and its opposite, creative.
"People with opposite styles are often attracted to each other because together, the two styles create a balanced perspective," points out Weller, adding with her usual smile, "but getting to that balance can be filled with conflict!"
Dealing with opposing brain styles can be a relationship issue, even when a couple is only dating. When you become a family, learning to parent together also often involves dealing with brain styles. It can also be a parent-child issue: how you as the parent determine when to surrender—or when to assert—your needs, desires and preferred thinking style when confronted with a child's contrasting needs, wants or approach.
Not that having the same thinking style is a guarantee of peace, the author continues.
"When you share a dominant thinking style, you sometimes click—and you sometimes butt heads!".
For example, when both parent and child tend to be logical, disagreements can escalate into heated debates.
"Each one wants to prove why he or she is right," explains Weller.
One issue that she addresses in parenting education is brain style strengths gone to such extremes that they become weaknesses. The logical parent, for example, may have standards too high for anyone else to meet—even the spouse and children who have a similar thinking style. The creative parent may be such a risk-taker that other family members don't feel financially secure.
For a parent struggling to appreciate a partner's opposing thinking style, Weller suggests a job swap. This can be relatively minor: trading tasks such as grocery shopping or household bill-paying. Or it can be significant, such as the swap Weller and her husband made when their children were very young: he spent a decade as a stay-at-home dad while she worked for the Community Colleges of Spokane.
A resident of the Spokane, Washington suburb of Liberty Lake since 1989, Weller grew up in El Cerrito, California and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara. After teaching high school religion courses in Minneapolis through a volunteer program with the Dominican Sisters, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and spent two years as a campus minister at Seattle University. This led to a master's degree in pastoral ministry at SU and a position as a young adult lay minister serving a nine-parish region in Seattle.
Today, in addition to teaching through the community college district, Weller runs "Tools for Transformations," which provides life and spiritual coaching. She and her husband, now a nurse, are the parents of two.
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