Lateral Thinking: The essential soft skill for growth and promotion

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Let’s see how you answer this question. Suppose 2 men working in a mechanic shop can repair 5 cars in a day. How many cars can 4 men working in the same mechanic shop repair in a day?

To most of you, it would seem that the correct answer is 10 cars a day. This answer is not completely wrong but also not fully correct. There are so many situations that you face in your professional and personal life where the answer seems very obvious but is not actually so.

Before answering this question, consider the following:

  1. Each man may not have same skill level
  2. They may not always get up to 10 customers daily
  3. Each customer will have different issues
  4. Different cars take a different amount of time to repair
  5. Too many people may cause more distraction resulting in loss of productivity

Have such considerations changed your thinking?

To be able to ask such useful questions and reason out every possibility to solve difficult situations in an unusual way is called lateral thinking. This skill is very important to succeed in your job. Just like communication skills are useful in dealing efficiently with different kinds of people, lateral thinking is useful in dealing with different kinds of situations.

Read: 6 Soft Skills for Career Success

An example of traditional thinking vs. lateral thinking is the concept and benefits of the SmartProfile™ against traditional CVs.

Lateral thinking, like other soft skills, can also be learnt through implementation. The following are the key elements of lateral thinking:

  • Solving problems through an indirect approach
  • Creative thinking
  • Reasoning that is not immediately obvious
  • Not dependent on traditional logic and ideas

You can inculcate these in your daily thinking with a little practice. To start thinking laterally and incorporating it in handling situations, start with the following:

  1. Take a different view: Whenever you are faced with a situation, don’t go with the first thing that comes to your mind. Assume that you may have missed out some points or you may be looking at the situation from a different point of view. Open yourself to all other possibilities and then go ahead with analyzing the situation. Taking a different view towards every situation will help you think laterally and arrive at the right solutions.
  2. Challenge your assumptions: Challenge the common assumptions in your daily professional life. Learning from previous experience is necessary but you should not make assumptions on the basis of your previous experience for every new situation that you face.
  3. Ask powerful questions: Lateral thinking involves asking powerful questions. You will have useful answers only if you ask the right questions. Blindly following every assumption and choosing the most obvious solution will make you ignore the right solutions. But the right solution can only come through the right question.

Read: Skills that will get you hired

Follow these suggestions and try to think laterally as much as possible. Lateral thinking will help you inspire people around you, use resources in a better way, create job satisfaction and open new gates for success and growth in your career.

Create your SmartProfile™ today to highlight your skills and find a matching job.

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