The thinker


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May 30th, 2017
Hiscox Experts

Hiscox insures more than 300,000 UK businesses and has been named Best Small Business Insurance Provider by Start Your Business magazine for eight years in a row.

From your answers, you sound like you could be a 'thinker'.

Thinker’s minds are sharp and analytical, and they are great problem-solvers. They like to think through every contingency in advance, pondering possibilities and probabilities. For this, they tend to prefer privacy. They are disciplined, painstaking and highly accurate in their work.

Their presentations are detailed, fascinating and highly informative, eliciting much admiration. In conversation, they are polite and thoughtful, but not prone to emotional statements or sharing secrets. Writing detailed, well-argued emails is a forte, and they make important connections there.

Strengths: Intellectual ability, attention-to-detail, analysis, logic, detachment, self-sufficiency

Possible weaknesses: perfectionism, too picky at times, overly cautious, can sometimes be misunderstood or come across as cold and arrogant.

Character traits

This personality is usually introverted and reserved, with an analytical, objective and logical approach to things. Sometimes they project a different "social front" (e.g. more outgoing or zany), to cover any feelings of unease they may feel in dealing with others, though essentially this type is more isolated.

Working preference

He/she lives in the world of the mind, mastering relevant information, and preferring scientific methods or models to help them solve problems or to get ahead in their business. Similar to the "Visionary", they are also looking for a new angle on things, most likely in the scientific world. They have a reputation for being wise and perceptive, and they much prefer to work on their own, away from people and behind a closed door. This gives them the time, space and privacy in which to "think" properly. They are completely self-contained, and may give off the impression that they don't need or particularly like people – this is because of their degree of absorption and concentration, giving them an air of "the absent-minded professor".

Appearance and presentation

Their appearance can be that of the studious nerd or the old-fashioned college professor, so clothing can range from a three-piece tweed suit to jeans, sweatshirt and trainers. Or something more eccentric (like mismatched socks), as clothing has no great significance for them.

Communication style

They certainly acknowledge a greeting or pleasantry and listen closely to what you have to say. However, they don't like people to pry into their business or ask personal questions, preferring to keep their secrets. They don't engage in much face-to-face conversation, preferring instead to do all their talking through emails, where they feel most at ease. Emails are their life-blood, and they constantly flow from their computer at any time of the day or night: lengthy, highly-detailed, full of information and often lacking in emotion. Emails accelerate the flow of ideas for them, and online they can create a "virtual team" with whom they are happy to work. Needless to say, they will have the most up-to-date computer, software and telecommunications systems.

Their presentations will be breath-taking in scope and knowledge, well-prepared, detailed, and incisive. Their intellectual breadth will be both inspiring and intimidating, but their delivery will be modest and understated (they are out of their comfort zone talking in front of a group).

Decision making

Decision-making can be a slow, painful process, as they are naturally cautious. They hate spending money, and exert tight spending controls. This personality type requires the most persuasion to part with money, and it needs to be done factually. If you can persuade them through knowledge that they didn't have before, or a point that they hadn't considered, then all the better.

How to work better with a 'thinker'

Pitching new ideas/work (i.e. projects) to them

  • Don’t push, or be overly-enthusiastic
  • Be extremely well-prepared, and take a logical, analytical approach
  • If possible, give them a piece of intellectual knowledge that they didn’t have before (e.g., on a technical procedure)
  • Sell it on the numbers alone: describe your campaign and its logical outcome, with the facts to support it

Writing proposals or reports for them

  • Go into as much detail as possible
  • Give them as many references and footnotes as possible
  • Lengthy is better than brief
  • Use an objective, analytical tone, and avoid emotion

How to present to them

  • Temper your enthusiasm; be thoughtful and logical
  • If possible, warn them what will be discussed and decided (they hate surprises)
  • Don’t stray from the format
  • Don’t ask too many penetrating questions – it will seem like an invasion of privacy

Get a foot in the door with them (make a good first impression)

  • Get hold of their email address; a meeting may be impossible
  • Put forward an idea that you want to help them develop, analyse or test
  • Show them different ways to get to the same goal
  • Show them a ‘cheaper’ way to do it

Giving feedback, or delivering bad news

  • Present the downside as an “interesting problem” to be solved
  • Be matter-of-fact in tone; avoid emotional outbursts
  • When giving feedback, quantify the results where possible
  • If things are going wrong, try to give them a warning in advance

How to communicate with them (i.e. keep them happy)

  • No chit-chat; keep emails formal and polite
  • Don’t be afraid to write a lengthy email: they would rather have as much detail as possible
  • Keep them updated with plenty of notice of deadlines or tough sailing ahead
  • Give them space and time that they need to “think”; don’t pressurise them

Chasing for feedback (or an invoice)

  • Email is the best format: keep it businesslike and polite
  • Summarise what you’ve achieved so far, and ask for their thoughts
  • Give them time to respond
  • Attach your invoice to an email of work done so far