Where yes meets no

The tension between Past and Future Thinking

Communication between Future thinkers and Past thinkers is essential for collaboration, yet here lies a real challenge. The Future thinker’s way of thinking about things—their modus operandi—which is to say yes to opportunities and solutions, is suddenly confronted, as it tries to share its ideas, with a no oriented point of view. As in, we don’t KNOW enough about this, it might be a risk with consequences.

This can be difficult for Future thinkers to hear. It doesn’t have the open, enthusiastic, solution oriented feel that typifies Future Thinking. Being met with skepticism is never easy.

There is a solution however.

By becoming aware of the potential for difficulties, both Future and Past thinkers can take responsibility to think about the way they engage with each other.

Past thinkers need time to reflect on what they are being told. They need to ask questions for which they may not yet be an answer. They also have an in build aversion for risk and moving too quickly into making a decision, especially when moving in unknown territory.

Future thinkers need to be able to paint verbal pictures in their efforts to communicate what they are seeing in their minds. They use metaphors which require the listener to do the work of translating the metaphor into the context being spoken about. Nothing shoots down the construction of a possible solution faster than skepticism. It breads defensiveness and frustration. Honest inquiry by an open mind is far more productive. This takes practice and there is nothing more effective at cementing change than the acknowledgment of progress being made. Taking the time to acknowledge and thank each other for making the effort to truly listen and communicate towards people’s needs, is a winning strategy, and a big lever for change.

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