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An article run in Lodging,
'the' magazine for the hotel industry.

Open Your Mind -- Facilitate
Styles Other Than Your Own

By Margaret Rose Caro

Larry Alexander and Cincinnatti Westin

        Tom and Linda Carlson are challenging accepted communication strategies by presenting a new 'people' technology, which is claimed to strengthen anyone's ability to manage.

           A top sales manager for a major hotel nearly lost his job because he wasn't following the letter of his GM's law. His bottom line was fine, but his methods were questionable. This individual might have gone over the edge if the GM hadn't been introduced to a communications concept that focuses on a person's unique style of thinking. He learned that the sales manager's approach was different from his own, not better or worse. Before long, the GM was giving the sales manager directives that maximized his productivity and created methodology that pleased both of them.

           The GM simply recognized that not everyone sees or thinks about the world the same way he does. And he abandoned his traditional 'proven', behavior modification techniques for an approach based on an innovative theory that could have wide application in the industry. The concept is simple and, if instituted when a person is hired, it could increase understanding, job satisfaction, and productivity. It could also reduce turnover by placing the right people in the right positions.

           Thomas S. Carlson, Ph.D., and Linda Blew Carlson have researched and developed this communication strategy, which focuses on an individual's unique (in-born) style of processing information, rather than on how or why he acts in a particular fashion.

           Fully described in a book called How To Stop Talking to Brick Walls, this approach, named ICTech®® (Individualized Communications Technology), is for those who are looking for ways to get better response to their communications and desire to tap in to the unused mental powers in an organization. This concept encourages a manager to treat every person in a group as an individual without demanding extensive time and/or system changes. And with no emphasis on IQ, it's not threatening to anyone.

           The Carlsons believe that since communication first takes place inside the heads of people, a strategy based on the way people think is necessary for clear and speedy understanding. Personality, age, sex, cultural background, and intelligence have nothing to do with the way the brain processes information.

Unlocking Mental Powers

           The Carlsons' approach is timely. Americans everywhere are looking for ways to develop their potential, professionally and personally. Technology has vastly increased the number of messages or information sent out and received, but there has been no improvement or change in understanding these messages.

           "Unlocking mental powers requires positive reinforcement, commitment to improving personal performance, and being true to one's inner promptings. If messages are hurled at a person involved in self-enrichment activities, which don't positively reinforce, don't allow the individual to feel like he is making a choice, and lack concern for the individual's commitment to performance, they receive less than full attention," says Linda.

           Today's managers are challenged by the need to encourage this drive for personal excellence while promoting the good of the company, and balance high technology and personal progress. To get people to use more of their mental potential, to give an 'above average' performance consistently, managers will have to learn to facilitate rather than control. Greater emphasis will have to be placed on how we think about thinking.

           The Carlsons contend that it is often less what you 'know' and more 'how you communicate' that determines your success or failure in managing yourself and others. What's needed is a high technology that works inside the mind to balance the high technology that can produce millions of messages in a minute - 'high touch' to balance 'high tech.' Such a mental technology must apply to all people and be simple to use. It must motivate people to use it, even when no one is checking; and give immediate payoff, yet have long-term results. Cincinnatti Westin

           Visualization has recently gotten a lot of attention, from its apparent success in sports and medicine to its more esoteric uses promoted by "New Age" gurus like Shakti Gawain or Depak Chopra. The Carlson approach is based on communication through styles with emphasis on the fact that both persons involved in any communication somehow affect the messages they receive through a mental filtering system. To get the message through efficiently, both parties' mental processing style has to be considered.

           ICTech® describes five different styles that explain how people think. They are: Single, Multiple, NonVisual, Integrated, and the Dual. Everyone has a natural style and a learned style, with the natural style surfacing under pressure or during total relaxation. Each style is capable of achieving excellence but will approach and achieve it differently.

           Singles use a mental filter that 'sees' information clearly and logically laid out like a slide show programming from a beginning to a conclusion. This filter may be seen as a staircase, beginning at the first stair and progressing to the top, one step at a time. They will often draw on previous experience when trying to find the 'one best way' to get a job done. And once they have selected the solution, from no more than two alternatives, they can seem almost compulsive about completing the project. The key mental trait for this style is tenacity.

"Technology has vastly increased
the number of messages or information
sent out and received, but there
has been no improvement or change in
understanding these messages.

           The Multiple's style is identified by an ability to form images in the mind's eye like a motion picture. This style needs a broad view before focusing on a specific; the whole is initially more important than the parts. Instead of stair-step type of thinking, this type of mental processing feels most comfortable in working with a broad mental brush on a variety of subjects from many different perspectives at the same time.

           This type is open to what others have to offer and will select a solution from a large number of alternatives, as compared with the Single who considers only one or two.

           The Multiple needs to use creativity throughout the day and functions best by shifting from one project to another. The key mental trait for this style is creativity. "There is a temptation to build a team from only one or two mental filter styles, but it has been consistently shown that the strongest team results come when there is a mixture of styles."

           The NonVisual filter admits no mental pictures. Although some psychologists believe that it's impossible not to be able to conjure up pictures in the mind's eye, this style does exist. This filter deals in concepts and ideals rather. In many ways the mind works like a camera snapping pictures that never get developed.

           NonVisuals are not natural problem identifiers, but once they become aware that a problem exists, they want to acquire as much information or data as possible about it. They look at what is happening at the moment and consequently they offer a fresh and original perspective others often overlook. They can take random and sometimes far-out ideas and information and form them into logical conclusions, making them real.

           NonVisuals have a need to keep moving from one situation to the other without making a commitment to a solution. This type needs challenge and fun. The key mental trait here: originality.

           Integrateds readily change from one style to another, or use the three styles interchangeably. A primary objective for Integrateds is to bring people together and to create cooperation and unity. They are attracted to problems or challenges that require compromise or facilitation. Being people oriented, keeping them focused on bottom line productivity will be difficult if people problems aren't involved.

           While Singles and Multiples tend to discover solutions by sorting through and selecting a "best" or "first choice', and NonVisuals construct the problem and solution, Integrateds solicit other views. They often combine two or more approaches to create an alternative, basing their decisions more on feelings and reactions than facts. Integrateds are easy to motivate when they are in a position to pull others together to achieve, but they are not at their best in an isolated environment. Key mental trait: facility.

           Duals have two mental filters from which to choose and can use these two styles interchangeably. Usually, though, one is used exclusively for familiar tasks. For example, all information concerning the job may go through a Single filter, whereas, everything that has to do with the family may be filtered as a Multiple. The challenge is to select a filter style and be consistent in using it throughout the problem-solving process. This style can hold two or more opposing ideas at the same time and still function. In fact, it's the norm. Duals don't quickly engage in problem identification, especially if the problem belongs to someone else.

           They're content to let sleeping dogs lie. When faced with a challenge, they look at past experiences and compare them with what appears to be going on now. They then compare the two perspectives to evaluate the seriousness of the problem. This evaluation between past and present is one of the unique and useful differences between this style and the others. Before finding a solution to a problem, Duals calculate the need for one. They work best with clear parameters and the assurance that they've chosen a good approach. Key mental trait: flexibility. Cincinnatti skyline

           There is a temptation to build a team from only one or two mental filter styles, but it has been consistently shown that the strongest team results come when there is a mixture of styles and the team leader has the ability to facilitate the communications and problem-solving of all its members.

Applying These Concepts to Hotel Operations

           When GM Larry Alexander of the Westin Cincinnati, a 450-room downtown hotel, was looking for a team-building session for his executive committee, the human resources director suggested they participate in one of the Carlsons' workshops. The committee includes the GM, assistant executive manager, senior assistant manager, controller, and directors of F&B, marketing, and human resources. Alexander and Executive Assistant Manager Frank Van Haalen were skeptical at first but are now sold on the credibility and applicability of the concept.

           The two-day workshop began with a relaxation exercise. When everyone was physically relaxed, they were asked to 'become aware of how you're painting a picture in your mind's eye.' From there, the process was a matter of self-reporting. They discovered their own natural and learned styles and how to recognize and work with other styles. The Carlsons worked with the group as a whole and offered each individual a private session.

           Alexander, a dynamic 'Multiple,' says, "This workshop has given me an awareness of why department heads operate as they do, and it has saved at least one high-level person from being fired." Recognizing that there is no "good" or "bad" style, he now takes natural styles into consideration when communicating with staff and delegating tasks. He feels that everyone is more effective as a result.

           At this point, Alexander is using style awareness only with department heads, but says he plans to take it farther, to other levels. One possibility is to use the concept in employee selection - placing the right person in the right spot.

           Of the seven-member executive committee, six of the seven discovered they were using "learned" styles in their present positions. Executive Assistant Manager Van Haalen, a Dual, says that he's natura11y a Multiple but for this position he must also use the Single style. When he becomes a GM, he'll probably use his natural Multiple style more. An awareness of this process makes it easier to 'learn' a style for professional purposes.

           Connie Roberts, controller, The Westin Resort, Hilton Head Island, and former controller, Westin Cincinnati, participated in the workshop. Rating it high above other communication workshops, she says she has a lot of fun picking out the different styles and that, to avoid putting a square peg in a round hole, she would use this knowledge when hiring. It also helps her deal with irritating behavior. Other hotels have shown interest in the workshop, and several industry individuals have participated to some extent. According to Linda Carlson, "Even one person on a staff going through the workshop can make a big difference because it filters down. It unhooks the mind from personalization, gives you a more objective viewpoint.

           "Because of the powerful influence of TV and computers, almost 40 percent of the population now functions as 'learned' NonVisuals. They've let their 'natural' minds shut down. A lot of job dissatisfaction could be avoided if people understood how their minds function best, how they could be the perfect cog in the wheel."

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Linda Blew Carlson, is GM of FOCUS II, LLC, a company dedicated to supporting families, public speakers, people who deal with difficult people, and businesses, through 'individualizing' communications. They all begin to get extraordinary results from ordinary people! To see how go to

NOTE: Some language has been updated for the reader's convenience.