The art of counterintuitive thinking

The art of counterintuitive thinking - Artificial Jewellery

By forcing ourselves to think outside the box and by forgetting preconceived notions we can find solutions to problems otherwise hidden from sight. DALE FURTWENGLER explains that abandoning intuition is sometimes the wisest move.

If you’d like to be more influential you must train your mind to think counterintuitively and to see the things that others don’t see.

We enjoy the company of those who are likeminded. Why wouldn’t we? They affirm our beliefs. But what if they’re as wrong as we are?  What if they’re overlooking the same things we are?

How does their affirmation help us achieve what we desire? The simple answer is that it doesn’t.

What we need to learn, grow and progress are people who see things we don’t see, people who offer a different perspective.

Learning to influence

The key to becoming a strong influencer is to see things others don’t see and in order to do that we need to train our minds to think counterintuitively.

Our natural tendency is to trust our intuition; to rely on what seems logical
to us. Yet time and time again we find that the best solutions, the most effective path to what we desire, is not what we expected intuitively.

One example of this principle is the story of the botanist working with a purple and white African violet. The botanist wanted to intensify the purple colour, so he made the white gene more recessive. The result was that the plant compensated for the loss by enhancing the white. To intensify the purple, the botanist needed to diminish the purple gene.

I’m certain that you’ll be able recall similar circumstances, where the result you got was precisely the opposite of what you expected. That’s because the best solutions are often counterintuitive.

From here the question then becomes “How do I train my mind to think counterintuitively?”

Fun and games

Training our minds and learning new skills is easier when you make a game of it. The next time you hear or read something, stop and ask yourself some simple questions.

Is there a situation where this information would not hold true? Under what circumstances might that not work? Is there a simpler way to accomplish the same result? Can I blend two or more seemingly disparate interests into a cohesive solution?

The fun is found in demonstrating to yourself just how creative your mind is when responding to these questions. One of my college professors opened my eyes to this approach with a simple exercise.

He began by assigning his class the task of writing a paper on any controversial topic we chose. The following week, he instructed us to take the opposite position. This simple assignment opened my eyes to just how much validity can exist on both sides of an argument. It also helped me see the alternatives that could form the foundation for mutual agreement.

Playing these types of games frequently ends with you developing the ability to see things others aren’t seeing. As you share your thoughts with them, preferably in the form of questions, they will appreciate the wisdom of your insights and regularly seek your counsel.

As your reputation grows, they’ll refer others to you as well.

Questions, not statements

Once you’ve identified alternative options, don’t make the mistake of telling the person that there is a better way. Instead, lead them to the same conclusion you’ve reached with guiding questions.

How would that work in this situation? Are there circumstances in which that wouldn’t hold true? Is there a simpler way to accomplish this result? What would happen if we did X instead of Y? Is there a way in which we can accomplish more than one goal at once?

Using questions allow them to discover answers on their own and validates those answers with their own personal experience.

The power of habit

Influence is a wonderful tool. It affords you the ability to enrich the lives of others as well as your own.

One of the things that you’ll discover as you play the game of counterintuitive thinking is that your subconscious mind begins to look for alternative perspectives to what’s being said or written.

You no longer have to ask the questions.

Your subconscious mind has formed the habit of questioning everything and understanding that much of what we intuitively expect is seldom what really happens.

Remember, it all comes back to asking fundamental questions.

Is there a situation where this information would not hold true? Under what circumstances might that not work? Is there a simpler way to accomplish the same result? Can I blend two or more seemingly disparate interests into a cohesive solution?

We ask the right questions which allows our audience to discover the right answer on their own accord.


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