What’s Your Cognitive Preference?

I recently led a training session for the JDJ team on cognitive preferences. What is a cognitive preference? In short, it’s a means of describing how a person prefers to process information. Each quadrant of your brain is responsible for a unique set of functions: logic, imaging, sequencing & feeling. And each of us tends to work most efficiently and understand information most clearly when we are using one specific quadrant. That quadrant is our “cognitive preference.”

Each JDJ team member took a brief assessment to understand our primary and secondary preferences. We categorized the preferences into four different “colors,” each of which corresponds to a specific quadrant of the brain. Your primary “color” is representative of the quadrant in which your brain prefers to work. The goal of the exercise was to understand how each of us operates most effectively and to learn how best to work with our colleagues.

Yellows are procedural and sequential; greens are analytical and logical; reds are idea-based and dynamic; blues tend to be feelings-based and empathetic. Cognitive preferences - Feb 2016_brain

The results: the JDJ team is a well-rounded mix of yellows, greens, reds and blues, including a number of folks with yellow as their primary and blue as their secondary color (well-suited to financial client service!).

Armed with this information about ourselves and our team members, how can we apply it in a practical manner? For example, are you on a client team with a green? Make sure your emails are concise and logical. Working with a red on a project? Don’t micromanage their processes – instead, outline the big picture and establish clear deadlines.

It’s important to note that none of us are defined by our preference – it is simply an indicator of how we acquire and process information most efficiently. People adapt over time and move through different phases of preferences. Our discussion provided insight into the preferred work styles of our colleagues and will serve as a tool for us to work together effectively.