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Books about critical thinkingThe video slideshow, found by clicking the link below, explores how memory works, how to remember better, how the brain functions in an associative cascade manner that explains why people think and perceive so differently. It also covers the steps that lead to better thinking, how to be more creative, and why we can multi-task, but not multi-think! We think, but we rarely think abot how we think…knowing more about how you think can lead to better life results.

Give your brain a boost video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thBF4hM29oc

From the ebook Think Well & Prosper, available at all major online book sellers, including Amazon.

Associative cascade thinking can be set in motion in many ways, by symbols (words or numerals), by our emotions, by any of our senses, by events, etc. and in all cases the ensuing mental process is pretty much the same. However, because they make it easier to demonstrate points, the focus here will be on words and their impact on our thinking.


Think about the word: rose.

If you ask 100 people to think about the word “rose,” it is guaranteed that each person will make associations that are unique to that individual’s past experiences and to their personal knowledge base. For example, first-level thought responses may be any of the following, or a thousand others: smell, red, flower, aunt, thorny, gardening, beautiful, romance, etc.

Once a thinker makes the first associative word connection, the cascade process has momentum and can then move in innumerable directions; smell to one person may elicit fond memories from childhood, while the smell of a pungent flower to another could evoke recollections of distressing allergies. If a first-level association was “red,” second level cascade associations could be: red = passion, or red = blood.

As each thinker makes his or her own associations, the thought process becomes increasingly personal and unique, and the divergence of associative cascade connections grows exponentially at each new association and the subsequent thought cascades that flow from it. This explains why no two people, if called upon to systematically analyze every step and turn of their thought processes, would record the same stream of thoughts if the thinking went on for more than a few seconds.

It also suggests that to predict thinking outcomes and directions, one would have to be able to accurately predict (or control) the associations that another person makes—the difficulties and complexities involved in doing this are obvious.

Well, it reveals a simple fact about humans and human nature that many of us ignore or try to resist. Specifically, if you ever expect anyone else to think like you do, forget about it. There are just too many subtle associative differences being processed in people’s minds that result from past experiences, emotions, mental flights of fancy, etc.

Recognition of the incredible complexity of the human thought process can be daunting and frustrating if one seeks to accurately predict the mental responses of individuals, but this knowledge can also be a strength if we expend thought, planning, and effort to ensure that associations, and the resultant thought cascades, are as homogeneous as possible. In practice, this usually means exhaustively exploring other people’s definitions, their mental frameworks, their emotions, etc. and trying, as much as possible, to achieve a consensus of meaning, of understanding, and of purpose.

Because associative divergence results in totally unpredictable cognitive shifts, arriving at consensus is rarely, if ever, easy. But, knowing this can make us superior communicators if we shape messages according to the real associations of receivers and not what we assume them to be.

Why Is This Important to Managers?

Managers have their own associative processes and they are as divergent as everyone else’s. Too often, though, managers tend to assume that the connections they make will resemble those of the people who work with them. As a result, actions and outcomes are frequently disparate when we attempt to make others, or when we expect others, to reach similar conclusions about concepts, instructions, visions, etc. Tensions, resentments, etc. can arise, not because anyone set out to produce outcomes that differed from expectations, but because the fundamental understanding of what was happening and what was required was different. Reflecting again on the exponential nature of mental thought divergence, how could it be otherwise?

To minimize misunderstanding and miscommunication, always verify with employees and coworkers that what you said is what they heard. Asking people to clarify their understanding is not a sign of distrust, just smart management.

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