Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thinking in Pictures on the Job

Temple Grandin wrote about the concept of "thinking with pictures" in her book with the same title. Even though that thinking in pictures was something I had done plenty of times before, it was not something that I had really thought about that much before reading Grandin's book about three years ago.

Earlier at work today, I consciously realized that I was thinking in pictures as I was trying to explain something to my manager earlier.  I could perfectly picture the problem in my head but I was having difficulty translating that problem into words.  I thought to myself: if she could just see this picture in my head then there would be no problem.  But she couldn't see it and there was no way that she was going to see it.  I eventually was able to get enough words out to explain the situation so that my boss followed me to see for herself.

Trying to explain something when you are thinking in pictures is like trying to force a rock through a sand strainer.  By bashing the rock, bits and pieces trickle through until the rock is entirely through, but not at all in the same condition it was before.  That's what I experience trying to explain something to another person when I am thinking in pictures.  It's difficult and the other person never knows exactly why I am struggling with words.  I have to resist the temptation to say "just look at it and you'll understand," because the other person will never quite see the picture that I can see quite clearly in my head.

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