Dawna Markova has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience and Education. She is the CEO emeritus of Professional Thinking Partners, an organisation that teaches collaborative thinking to CEOs and senior executives around the world. She is a former senior affiliate of the Society for Organisational Learning.

Angie McArthur is the CEO of Professional Thinking Partners and co-founder of SmartWired and the Smart Parenting Revolution. She is an expert in communication and learning styles and has developed strategies for authors, corporations, CEOs, and the ongoing Executive Champions’ Workshop. She also spearheaded the Worldwide Women’s Web, a 2001 research initiative to support developing and retaining women in corporate leadership roles.

The background and credibility of these co-authors is outstanding and their target readership is anyone working collaboratively.

Market-share economy (the world we live in) places value on material things and so power is exercised over others. Instead we should try to focus on living in a mind-share economy which places value on ideas and relationships rather than transactions. Basically this simple fact makes generating, developing and executing ideas with other people one of our most valuable abilities. Instead of trying to outdo your teammate, listen to their perspective and try and learn from them.

There are 3 types of attention: focused, sorting and open.

There are 3 perceptual channels that affect the way people process information: auditory, visual and kinaesthetic.

Combining the types of attention with the perceptual channels creates 6 mind patterns, each with its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Being self-aware and knowing which mind pattern you use is essential to guiding your thinking and helping you accomplish the task at hand most effectively. For example, I may be auditory-sorting, kinaesthetic-open and visual- focused.

Understanding your own mind-pattern is a key tool for effective communication. Identify the ways to help yourself comprehend and communicate, then adapt your approach according to your understanding of your conversation partner’s mind pattern. To do this you must ask people which communication forms they find most effective and try to integrate these into your meetings and conversations.

Be aware of how you affect others and plan to adjust your strategy around them. For example, if it seems like one person is speaking too much it could be because talking helps them focus. Ask people like this to move around (kinaesthetic).

There are 35 different ‘thinking talents’ and each human has approximately 5 of them. For example, some people have a talent for creating intimacy, making order, or taking charge. We also have a preferred way of thinking called our ‘cognitive style’. There are four different cognitive styles, two from each hemisphere of the brain. This comprises of four quadrants of thinking. In the right hemisphere is: analytical thinking and procedural thinking. In the left hemisphere there is: rational thinking and innovative thinking. Each ‘thinking talent’ is associated with a ‘cognitive style’. For instance, if our team has innovative thinking talents but lacks procedural skills, it is likely that we will have lots of ideas but difficulty making tem happen.

The best way to learn, develop and connect with others is to ask questions. But for questions to be beneficial it’s essential that both people are comfortable with uncertainty, because the best questions are not easily answered. Being able to bear uncertainty is like exercising a mental muscle.

Ask team members success-based and intentional questions. A success-based inquiry is designed to remind you of a past success and, by identifying the conditions that made it possible, to increase your present confidence. For instance “When in the past did we face a similar challenge and what did we do to overcome it?” Intentional inquiries remind you of what’s essential to clarify your priorities. For instance, “What’s challenging me?” “What’s most important to me about this?” or “What do I want to learn from this?”

Asking influential questions about all four quadrants of the cognitive styles will enable your team to explore different perspectives by building on difference. Someone with an analytical style might ask, “What is the most logical solution?” While a procedural thinker would say, “How much time will it take?”

Try to align your attention with that of your team by focusing on the present and accounting for individual differences. Identify the different assets and skills in the room by doing something like recounting each person’s past contributions and what they are each good at. Give each person the chance to tell the group what keeps them focused personally and encourage them to take the necessary septs to stay on task. Intention drives actions and it’s essential to keep it aimed at a goal. If you’re working on a team project, ask everyone to bring in a photo that sums up their intentions in participating. Hanging all of these photos together on a wall will unify the group’s intentions.