LOST IN THE TRAVEL SECTION
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 19, 2016
A quick explanation of the Left Brain vs. Right Brain science can be found at: http://ucmas.ca/our-programs/whole-brain-development/left-brain-vs-right-brain/. The very first paragraph explains it as such: In general, the left and right hemispheres of our brain process information in different ways. While we have a natural tendency towards one way of thinking, the two sides of our brain work together in our everyday lives. The right brain of the brain focuses on the visual, and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. The focus of the left brain is verbal, processing information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole.
So what! That is a statement and not a question. Why should anyone care about how the Left Brain thinks or the Right Brain thinks or how they interact with or against each other? If there is one thing of which I am certain, EVERYONE should care otherwise either YOU or someone you care about may end up “Lost in the Travel Section” as I have been.
Briefly if you are a Right Brain dominant person, you will be open to very creative ideas. You will probably create your own creative ideas. You may play a musical instrument. You may write a book or a blog. The best example might have occurred when you were a child and you wanted to paint a tree purple and not necessarily stay within the lines or as a Right Brain child might say to you, “What lines?”
On the other side are the people who are Left Brain dominant. These are your analytical types, your engineers, technicians, architects, math majors, scientists, and most educators. As a child not only would the leaves be green and the trunk brown on the same tree being painted, if the child dared to stray outside the lines, he or she would be frantic about how the picture looks.
Here is a “what if” for you to think about. Let’s assume you are in a negotiation. The subject of the negotiation doesn’t really matter but whether you consider yourself a Right Brain person or a Left Brain person does matter and could make the difference between successfully completing the negotiation process or not. If the two or more people involved in the negotiation are all Right Brain dominant or if they are all Left Brain dominant the negotiation will proceed much smoother than if there were opposing sides of the brain at work. Let’s take it a step further, you are a real estate salesperson and you are a creative Right Brain person. You describe the home to a potential buyer in glorious and colorful detail. You are painting a very clear picture of the home, at least in YOUR mind. The potential buyer however is a total Left Brain buyer. While you are describing a beautiful room with a vaulted ceiling and gorgeous stone fireplace, the Left Brain buyer is calculating the monthly principle and interest payment and how soon the loan could be paid off. You are on totally different pages.
How do you know which side of the brain your opponent is? You ask a lot of questions. Then IF you are paying attention and that is a HUGE IF, if you are paying attention you will pick up on the way the other person describes his or her thoughts. For example, if most of the buyer’s interests seem to be about money, inflation, deflation, or future value, you are definitely talking to a Left Brain dominant buyer. On the other hand, if the potential buyer is placing furniture, changing the color of the rooms or carpets, the buyer is painting a picture in his or her mind and is definitely a Right Brain dominant buyer.
Are these rules cast in concrete meaning they are scientific fact? Of course not but it is the scientific basis of a good foundation for improving your communication skills especially between you and a person you only just met. Try to find out from which side of the brain they do most of their thinking. One more thought before I give you a personal example of what can happen when you have a conflict between a Right Brain person and a Left Brain person. Dr. Morris Massey gave one of the most interesting seminars I have ever heard. You only need to know the title to understand what he had said. “You are what you are because of what you were when you were ten (years old).” Do you think it might be possible if you were Ten during the 60’s you might have different values than if you were Ten during the 50’s or even the 40’s. I can guarantee you that if you were ten during the Great Depression, you would be all consumed with saving money and paying the least for anything you purchased. So let’s use the real estate salesperson example again. If you the salesperson were ten in the 80’s and you were selling to a person who was ten in the 50’s, do you think there may be a conflict in personal beliefs and values? Therefore if you want to make the sale or win the argument, you have to start thinking and speaking like the person you are speaking to, otherwise, you will be forever on different pages.
Here is my personal example of how a Right Brain dominant person (me) was taught by a Left Brain dominant person and what happened.
I have always loved music. I took up the clarinet sometime in the mid 50’s. I ended up playing the clarinet for about 10 years through my high school graduation in 1963 and have never touched it since. How could that be? In actuality I have to admit that I was (past tense) pretty good not only on the clarinet but also the bass clarinet and the baritone saxophone. I was 18 years old when I graduated so I started on the clarinet when I was 7 or 8 years old.
Enter my problem. I have always been able to pick up almost any musical instrument and play it by ear. What does that mean? I typically didn’t require any instructions on the “how” to play the instrument, I just played what I thought I should hear which was not necessarily on the sheet music and it worked very well for me. It did not work very well for my musical instructor that my parents were paying for to teach me how to play from sheet music. I remember on one occasion he gave me some sheet music to play for a recital. I began playing the piece as I knew it should sound, at least to me. Obviously it did not sound like he thought it should sound and definitely did not sound like the music on the page; I had added a few notes here and there. In fact, I never even looked at the notes; I just played the piece as I knew it. Just like everyone might sing a song they have heard over and over again.
Why was that a bad thing for me? Initially I took a disliking for my instructor and that is never a good thing if you expect to learn something. Secondly, the instructor instead of encouraging me to run with my ability to play, he was seriously discouraging me to the point I no longer wanted to take lessons. Over time, I lost interest in playing music in general and the clarinet in particular. At the risk of sounding immodest, while I played in my high school band, the band director would have me fill in on an instrument when one of the band members could not play for whatever reason. As an example, during one parade, I played the tuba an instrument I had never tried to play before. He asked me to play the bass clarinet in a clarinet quartet which I did but I had never even seen sheet music written for any bass instrument before and could not read it if I wanted to. I played it by ear. I also played drums, trumpet and even the tympani drums.
I can only wonder what might have happened musically if someone had encouraged me when I was just Ten years old (there is that number again). The lesson to learn? Before you discourage anyone from doing anything, you must ask yourself, am I discouraging this person based upon my own perspective and my view of my goals for them or upon their perspective and what THEY want to achieve? Makes a difference does it not?
Back to the Right Brain vs. Left Brain. It makes a huge difference in relationships if you don’t know what you are or what the person you are communicating with is, especially children. When I attended school through the 60’s it was always do as the teacher directed you to do or in other words stay within the lines. Read only what you are told to read and then God forbid you were ever asked to explain what you thought you had read if your understanding was different than your teacher’s views. I had no idea what a Right Brain person was back then and I seriously doubt the teachers did either. It was not their fault. I can assure you that there were many times when I wanted to do something very differently than the teacher thought about how it should be done. As a result there were many times I found myself and my teachers (plural) on different pages and it was reflected in my grades. There were times I thought I was a slow learner. The teacher would cover a subject and my mind started to take off with something she had said or demonstrated. She continued with her presentation buy my mind was somewhere out there in space thinking of what she had said 15 minutes ago. I was not alone. Looking back it was easy to spot the Right Brain students.
I once worked for a former college professor, Dr. Tom Hill, who taught Left Brain/Right Brain theory. He said that my problem (didn’t know I had a problem at the time) was that I was a Right Brain person in a Left Brain world. In other words, I was lost in the travel section of my mind. He was right!
My suggestion to you is that you research the Left Brain/Right Brain process and then determine if you might be on different pages than your children. It could prove beneficial for all concerned if you do; or if you don’t. That is when all Hell breaks loose and your child or children will eventually become “lost in the travel section of life” as I have been; not a great place to travel.