Does Everyone Know How You Process Information?

Over the past three years I’ve been getting board packages a few days in advance of our meetings from our president at Comcate.

In passing I mentioned to him, "You know, the waterfall charts don’t do anything for me."

He was surprised: "What do you mean they don’t do anything for you?"

"They just don’t communicate the budget breakout as much as raw percentages would. Seeing the waterfall in a visual format doesn’t work for me."

As a verbal guy, fancy visual graphs have never moved me.

Then we talked about the other people who were getting the packages on a regular basis. What were their learning styles? What format would work best for them?

I should step back and think more carefully about how I process information and whether this fact is clear to everyone who sends me stuff.

A big part of effective networking is knowing how the other person learns and communicates. Some of this has to do with cognitive transmission, some has to do with personal preference. For example, I’d much rather get a long email than a phone call out of the blue.

How do you learn? How do you prefer to receive communications? Is everyone in your company on the same page about how everyone else processes data?

4 comments on “Does Everyone Know How You Process Information?
  • I’m awful at graphs. I’m dealing with Graduate courses chockablock with Economics visuals, and I still get bamboozled. When I read the theory I’m fine–and then I see the graphics and think “oh, I have no idea what’s going on here.”

    Some of my cohort, on the other hand, can just look at the graph by itself and follow along.

    I had this same problem with electron clouds in chemistry.

  • Try this site out Ben:

    Sorry if the long link breaks the sizing on the comment box, but that’s a great quick little tool to discover just how well an individual processes information. In other words, are you word smart (as you seem to be), music smart, visual/spatial, etc.

    A fun way to see how others that you work with process information best as well.

  • << I'd much rather get a long email than a phone call out of the blue.>>

    I feel absolutely the same way, unfortunately, most people do not. Because of this my received and sent emails are consistently short and to the point. For this, is a tragic way of communication for we can communicate our thoughts and ideas further with a little extra elaboration.

    – Mari

  • In the book Fierce Communication, a beachball metaphor is used to explain a way to think about communicating with different people in a company.

    The author says to think of each department of a company as a different colored section of the beachball. Accounting is the blue section, sales is green, and operations is red, for example.

    If accounting is trying to explain to sales and operations that something is blue, sales and operations are going to disagree – to them, the company is green and red, respectively.

    To ensure that people in different areas understand what is being explained, the communicator must remember that each person’s world is different.

    Communicate to people in their own color to help them understand.

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