How you think and how you process information has a profound effect on your relationships—with your partner, your children, your extended family—in fact, with almost everyone you encounter. In Why Don't You Understand? Improve Family Communication with the 4 Thinking Styles, Susie Leonard Weller provides a fascinating answer to why and how this happens.
Most of us have heard people labeled as “left brain” or “right brain” thinkers, and as “extraverts”or “introverts.” We may have read Carl Jung. We may have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Now Weller cites new research that can help us understand brain and personality types—ours and those of family members, friends and colleagues. Because this research explains why we’re in sync with some people and at odds with others, it will help us throughout our lives.
What’s the most important point? That how we think and how we naturally prefer to communicate is inborn. No style is better than another, but it’s important to be able to recognize the different styles in other people and adapt to them. When we understand thinking style, we are less likely to assume we are right and others are wrong.
When parents differ in thinking and personality styles from each other and their children, learning about styles can help them compromise on an approach that respects the preferences of each parent—and the type of each child. In Why Don't You Understand? Weller teaches you to apply this information in everyday life.
“Our environment does shape the way we think,” Weller explains. “Young people whose style is adapted to that of their family may change when they grow up and become independent. Adults sometimes modify their styles too much due to work or family obligations.”
If your interactions with certain people are stressful, the problem may be that you are unknowingly stretching beyond your capacity to accommodate these people’s thinking styles. By intentionally strengthening your least favorite thinking style, you will be better prepared for communicating with people who need to be addressed in that style, she goes on.
What’s most important? To recognize three things, says Weller: that each of us may communicate and make decisions in a different inborn style, that these differences need to be respected—and that we have the ability to learn other styles and use them when they’re needed.