Binary or Blended thinking?

Are there times when regardless of topic, you experience a pattern of one-sided conversations with someone who seems unable to see another perspective? This type of communication can be very frustrating.

Known as Binary-thinking, the person holds their viewpoint without taking into account any other perspectives. If of an argumentative nature, they can become the loudest voice in a room, over-powering others. If of a quieter nature, they can come across as stubborn. For these thinkers, there is often an “Or” between two ideas.

This type of thinking is unhealthy for an organisation’s culture. It displays a fixed mindset that if left un-questioned can negatively influence others. Like a gas, it can take-up all the room, until there is no room for others to voice their thoughts. For the quieter members of staff, it can send them more deeply into silence. As leaders we need to create a safe space for all to contribute.

Blended thinkers are instead, open-minded and take into account differing perspectives. They hold their ideas lightly and are open to having their thinking challenged. Not only are they able to see both sides of a discussion, they are often able to arrive at a third perspective. For them, there is often an “And” between two ideas.

How might we approach the Binary-thinker?

  1. Invite them to consider alternative viewpoints by using phrases such as “There may be another way of viewing this…”

  2. Don’t get into an argument with them. Keep calm.

  3. If in a public forum, invite other perspectives, then summarise the viewpoints before moving into the next phase of decision-making which may include a more collaborative approach.

  4. Invite people to share their thoughts in an online space, or on a piece of paper, so even the less extraverted members can contribute.

  5. Approach them 1:1 and state your noticing around their thinking behaviour, then wait for their response before potentially coaching them to insight.

Go well this week.
Mary-Anne 🙂

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