How can we determine what kind of thinkers we are?

My favourite editor Helen Williams asked me some great questions about my upcoming visual thinking Bootcamp / World Tour. Above is one of her questions and my answer follows here:

Are you a visual thinker? I meet a lot of people who say that they are. But I also meet people who seem certain that they aren’t. I think it’s a flawed categorization.

What they really seem to be saying is simply that they appreciate when others have put in effort to make their communication clear and simple, while others are fine reading raw numbers in a spreadsheet.

We are all humans and we live in a world which we perceive through our senses. One of these senses is visual. But even our other senses, like hearing and touch also have a spatial sense.

I think we are all visual thinkers.

Some people have just been told enough times (initially by others but eventually by themselves) that they “can’t draw” which is absolute bullshit. Bar a few special neuroscience cases from Oliver Sacks I have never met a person who couldn’t draw. It doesn’t mean that everyone can draw beautifully or artistically. But that’s not necessary either. If your goal is to make your ideas, plans and communication more simple and clear, having less artistic ability is actually often a benefit: since you can’t draw elaborate and complicated things, then you will have to simplify until it’s easy to draw. That’s what I have always done.

In the end I think it’s mainly a choice: would you like to learn a meta-language around visual thinking, and thereby raise your awareness and understanding of how it works and get better?