Ever meet someone and click instantly? Or face the opposite problem: struggling to have an easy, unforced interaction? Chances are you’ve done both. A big reason this happens is due to how the mind operates.
People tend to think in one of two directions, either concept-to-detail or detail-to-conclusion. Most people can flex from one direction to the other, but each of us has a primary, default preference. Concept people, for example, can switch to detail people when reading a complex contract or thick loan package. Detail people may switch and read a summary and do a few spot checks when handed a 1,000 page package of data. Circumstances can influence which direction we go.
When like-thinking people meet, concept people for example, they are on the same wavelength right away. Both share big picture views and speak in generalities rather than granularity. Conceptual thinkers focus on what they need to know in order to satisfy their premise. Too many details bore and irritate them.
Detail people get along well, too, since each prefers to follow a trail of information in order to derive a conclusion. They connect the dots in order to validate the legitimacy of their decision.
The harder challenge comes when faced with an unlike-thinker. How best might we interact smoothly with someone who thinks in a different direction than we do?
For example, I am high-concept. One of my horse buddies, Burndog, is a CPA by profession and auditor by trade. We’d take a bullet for each other. But how we’d go about it is different. I would ask where the shot might come from. He will insist on knowing the caliber. Then the distance, wind speed and direction, elevation gain, type of weapon, height, weight, and experience of the shooter. He’d also like knowing if he or she shoots lefthanded or righthanded.
Learning to flex your style to the preference of your audience is a wonderful skill to learn. When meeting someone, strive to figure out quickly whether he or she is a concept or detail thinker and modify your talk track accordingly. This is not a complicated behavior to unearth. If in doubt simply say, “I’m curious. Are you a concept or detail person?”
The answer is a valuable piece of information to know when selling to someone, regardless if you’re selling a product, a solution, or an opinion. If someone is detail oriented, take the time to share your information piece by sequential piece. If the person is concept oriented, start with the big picture conclusion, then ask how much supporting detail they’d care to hear.
It takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round and thank heaven for that! The magic that comes from deepening good relationships is fueled by recognizing and celebrating our uniqueness rather than judging differences as right or wrong. Unlike thinkers aren’t wrong; they’re simply different. But the bridge to commonality is easily built, almost instantaneous if you decide to build it.
By becoming a student of this one behavioral trick—flexing to the concept or detail nature of whomever you’re speaking with—you can instantly make easier, more fluid connections with anyone you meet.
This skill takes a little practice but it’s fun and easy to master. Give it a try and see.
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