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Left and right brain thinking

Use this framework to improve communications with employees and customers

In 1981 Roger Sperry won a Nobel Prize for his work on different hemispheres of the brain and how they affect our cognition. He determined that the right hand side of the brain is in charge of our creative functions while the left hand side controls logic and analysis. If this is true we could use the framework to sharpen our business communications.

There is much appeal about the simplicity of this framework.  It is easy to understand binary choices - things that are right or wrong, things that work in one way rather than another. As might be expected, the brain is a bit more complicated.


From the many tests that have been carried out by psychologists it appears that the creative right hand side of the brain and the logical left-hand side of the brain works as a generalisation. However, it would be dangerous to think that creative people aren't influenced by logical thought and logical people lack creative juices. Just as we have inclinations to be left or right-handed, it doesn't mean that we only use one of our hands. We use both.  It is the same with our brains. We use both sides of our brain although we may have relative strengths on one side rather than the other.


This being the case, what does it mean to marketers and the way we communicate with our audiences?  We might argue that if our target audience is made up of logical procurement managers we should present them with facts, figures and words that back up our value propositions. Here we need to be careful because taken too literally our communications could be very boring and lack appeal. Logical procurement managers are human beings with emotions and we must appeal to these. Balance is required.


We might also want to think about how the left hand and right and brain theory works when recruiting staff for our businesses. Again the theory implies that the best managers will be strong on the left-hand side of the brain. They are likely to be logical, good at crunching numbers, detail orientated, highly focused, discerning and analytical. These are all qualities in left brainers and they are all qualities that make good managers.


But do they? Certainly business leaders of the past have been strong on command and control. They have shown an ability to make cold hard decisions. This may have worked well in the past but times are a changing. Managers and business leaders today need to be warm and gregarious. They need to show sensitivity and emotions. They need to have intuition and be expressive. They need a brain that functions just as well on the right as on the left.


I conclude with a framework developed by B2B International which proposes a rational (left) and emotional (right) of the brain mapped against individual needs versus company needs.  The framework can be used to choose messages and communications that have maximum impact.

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