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How to Get “Left-Brained” People to Be Creative

People say Mike is a “right-brain” thinker because he prefers subjectivity and creativity and chooses a career path in graphic design, enabling him to tap into this potential. Others view Jane as more “left-brain” because she feels a particular affinity for logic and dealing with hard numbers and data, which is why she pursued engineering to make the most of her skill sets.

These two scenarios probably describe some of your friends or family. In popular culture, and through modern psychology studies, people are classified as right-brain or left-brain dominant depending on how they process information or experiences.

However, recent studies have debunked original theories that people function primarily with one side of the brain or the other; the lateralization of brain function might not be as set in stone. Instead, there are plenty of ways you can get creative and brainstorm with your left-brain employees that you may not have thought was possible before. Here are a few of those strategies:

Make the process straightforward: Remove the potential for ambiguity

If there is one thing that left-brain individuals hate, its ambiguity. When engineers or IT professionals deal with hard data all day, one of the last things some of them want to do is to revert to subjectivity and open-ended dialogue to become creative.

But left-brain people are not devoid of creativity – they just approach it differently. In fact, they use problem-solving (creative skills) daily. Whenever you’re leading a creative collaboration or brainstorming session in-person or over an audio or video conferencing service, map out the process you’ll be taking and any end goals you have. This way, you will be supporting their desire for objectivity, while still leaving room for creativity. Also, set a time limit. If you don’t get what you need in that time, meet again with another time limit.

Make the process easy: Remove the potential for discouragement

One productivity and creativity killer is discouragement: “This will never work.” If your left-brain thinkers feel they’re not bringing anything useful to the table, they may shut down and be unable to tap into their creative potential. It’s also seen as judging. The whole idea behind brainstorming is to open up the options rather than limit them.

brainstormTo avoid this from happening, approach these brainstorming sessions with an open and positive mind. Many companies have adopted the, “Yes and …” approach in brainstorming. Adding on to another’s ideas makes it more successful. Fast Company cites Second City, the comedy improv team, as leading the front on supporting creative ideas with inclusive language like “Yes and ….”

Overall, remember to keep in mind that while your left-brained employees might approach creativity differently, this doesn’t mean their contributions aren’t valuable or insightful. Some of the best ideas have come from left-brained people.

In fact, some of the most famous left-brained people – according to Yahoo – are Benjamin Franklin, Bill Gates, Sir Isaac Newton, and Steven Spielberg.