The Visual Thinking Advantage

I’ve already discussed several key benefits of visual thinking in previous posts — showing you how visual thinking can be used to help enhance many different aspects of your life, career and business. There is no doubt that these are the primary benefits that drive visual thinking forward. However, there are three other key advantages of visual thinking that were left out of the discussion. I would like to focus on them here.

The three key advantages include:

  • Visual thinking enhances transparency.
  • Visual thinking allows for effortless communication across cultures.
  • Visual thinking encourages self-reflection.

Visual Thinking and Transparency

The first key advantage of visual thinking is that it enhances transparency.

Many times words alone can hide or mask our true meaning, purpose and intentions. This leads to confusion, misunderstanding and ultimately problems that could’ve easily been avoided.

Visual thinking allows for transparency because the combination of words, pictures, charts and other elements you use to present your thoughts on paper allow you to lay out ideas and scenarios from every conceivable angle and perspective. This naturally helps you to build authenticity and trust with your audience, group or team.

Visual thinking also enables you to lay down all your cards on the table for open-ended discussion and sharing of ideas, which ultimately minimizes confusion, misunderstandings and problems, while at the same time enhancing your ability to generate worthwhile solutions to critical challenges you may be facing.

Visual Thinking Communicates Across Cultures

As worthwhile as visual thinking is for the purposes of transparency, it excels at the highest levels when used as a complimentary tool to help communicate ideas across cultures.

History has shown time and again how a simple misunderstanding can often lead to conflict and war. These misunderstandings are not intended, but rather unintentionally triggered because we simply lack the skill and ability to communicate our ideas and intentions in a transparent and visible manner.

Way back, during the caveman era, and even throughout periods of ancient history, we communicated our desires, intentions and ideas with other cultures through the use of pictures and gestures. In fact, for a very long period of time before words were ever put on scrolls or walls, images were our only means of communication — the primary means of passing down lessons of the past to the next generation of cave dwellers. 

I hear you thinking… “Hang on Adam, pictures can also be very easily misinterpreted.” Yes, of course you’re right. Pictures can be misinterpreted if used in isolation. However, when combined with written language as-well-as with other visual thinking elements and tools, then that is where pictures speak louder than words and communicate across cultures far more effectively than words alone. And that’s what visual thinking is about — it’s not just about pictures, but rather about communicating your ideas in a visual way using many elements and tools that help best represent your thoughts visually.

Not only does visual thinking communicate effectively across cultures but also across a variety of social and economic backgrounds. This makes complete sense when you consider that as children we learn to communicate using pictures before we even know how to spell a single word.

Visual Thinking Allows for Self-Reflection

The third key advantage of visual thinking is that it allows us time for self-reflection and contemplation.

Working as a Life Coach I’ve seen time-and-again clients rushing into decisions that they hadn’t thought through carefully. These decisions were never laid out in front of them in a visual way — as presented in the following client case study.

Holding your thoughts in your head only gives you a very limited perspective of the situation. It’s only once you get your thoughts on paper in a visual way, that links, associations and other options finally come into view.

Visual thinking gives you time to generate deep insights and understandings that will help you find creative solutions to problems that you would never have discovered if you simply held onto those ideas in your head.

The Advantages Are Clear…

I hope that you are now able to see more clearly the key advantages of visual thinking and how it can be used to help you think and communicate more effectively in all aspects of your career, business and life.

I realize that I haven’t really taken you through the elements of visual thinking or provided you with any concrete practical examples. I promise you this material is coming, and in a big way. However, before jumping into it, it’s important to build a solid foundational structure for visual thinking — allowing you to take full advantage of the techniques, tools and strategies that lie ahead.

All of this still awaits us on our journey towards becoming a Visual Thinking Magician. 🙂

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