Work Traits

Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is especially beneficial for positions that involve a lot of research and strategic thinking.
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What is analytical thinking?

Analytical thinking means you’re not usually one to make rash decisions. You like to pause, wait, and patiently mull over business ideas, opportunities, and choices. You’re known to carefully weigh pros and cons and dig into plenty of research.

This means you have a high level of commitment, and you’re able to stick with tasks for a lot longer than most people—even if those assignments don’t immediately gratify you with quick results. You can comfortably wait for the right time to act, or even for others to initiate first. 

On a team, you can be perceived as cautious, slow, and even risk-averse. And, your deliberate attitude and tendency to be an analytical thinker can be frustrating to some of your more fast-paced teammates.

We call it: Reflection + Patience

Your level of patience to comfortably wait, pause, observe, or reflect without needing to take action.

Our patience will achieve more than our force.

Edmund Burke

Leaders known for their analytical thinking

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Famed and celebrated poet, Maya Angelou, had a very deliberate and rigid approach to her writing. In an interview with George Plimpton in The Paris Review, she explained how she would rent a hotel room for a few months at a time. That would become her writing space.

She didn’t concentrate on high output, and instead was very patient with her work. “It might take me two or three weeks just to describe what I’m seeing now,” she said in that same interview.

Needless to say, she possessed high levels of reflection and patience. One of her well-known quotes is, “Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.”

Mahatma Gandhi

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who was less reactive than Indian writer and social activist, Mahatma Gandhi.

He was known for being patient and kind, and stood firmly behind his ideals of non-violence and non-retaliation. Even in situations that would have provoked other people, he was steady.

“It is not that I do not get angry,” he said. “I don’t give vent to my anger. I cultivate the quality of patience and angerlessness, and generally speaking, I succeed.”

Mahatma Gandhi
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Arianna Huffington

Author and businesswoman, Arianna Huffington, built a thriving media empire. You might think that requires constant action, however Huffington learned to possess a great deal of reflection and patience. 

In 2007, she was working so hard that she reportedly collapsed from exhaustion. She considers that a turning point in her own career. It impacted her own approach to life, as well as her leadership style. And now she looks for employees who share her values.

In an interview with Director Magazine, she said, “I’m also looking for people who aren’t too reactive and easily affected by the challenges the business faces every day.”

The benefits of analytical thinking

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Thoughtful decisions

You’d rather take time to think things through than jump into action. That means you give a lot of careful consideration to the choices you need to make.

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Sustained energy

Because you aren’t constantly seeking immediate payoff and instant gratification, you stay committed to tasks and are able to maintain your energy to see them through.

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Many refer to you as an analytical thinker, and that enables you to be highly strategic with the decisions you make.

The blind spots of analytical thinking

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Missed opportunities

A certain amount of patience is a good thing. But, if you wait too long to act, you might miss out on some big opportunities.

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Risk averse

Sometimes you need to take risks in order for great things to happen. Your cautious nature might prevent you from taking those big leaps.

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Your desire to be deliberate and move at a slow pace can mean that you push things off. Eventually, you need to take action.

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How to increase analytical thinking

1) Pinpoint your triggers and emotions.

Start by identifying situations when you feel a sense of urgency to act, rather than reflect. Are there any common themes you can identify?

Once you’ve identified specific circumstances that make you feel impatient, see if you can uncover the emotion behind them. Do you respond instantly because you’re excited? Angry? Nervous? Getting to the root will help you slow down and make more strategic decisions.

2) Pause before responding.

When somebody says something to you, you often jump in immediately with your response. You think it shows a high level of engagement, but it can also make you look impatient and reactive—like you’re waiting for your turn to talk, rather than actively listening.

After somebody says something, briefly pause. Count to five in your head if you have to. Not only does that give you a beat to absorb what’s being said, but it also provides enough time for your conversational partner to finish their thought.

3) Let history be your teacher.

A big piece of the puzzle is reflection, which means you need to look back on past experiences and let those guide you.

That might mean you need to spend some extra time looking through notes, reports, or having conversations about previous scenarios. But, it’s well worth it. You’ll make a much better decision when you learn from past failures and successes.

4) Be patient.

We know—this sounds way too obvious to be a helpful piece of advice. But, let us explain what we mean here. 

Like any other skill, patience isn’t something that you’ll build overnight. And, if you’re somewhat impatient by nature, that can be a tough pill to swallow. Keep working at this. Becoming more patient will require a mindset shift and some consistent training, and you need to commit to that process.

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