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Breaking Out with Divergent Thinking

For the second consecutive week, RealitySeeker discussed convergent and divergent thinking. Divergent thinking seeks multiple perspectives and multiple possible answers to questions or problems. Convergent thinking assumes that a question has one right answer or solution.

We’re taking time with this topic because sometimes people get stuck in the notion that the way something has always been done is the way it should always be done. Convergent thinking supports productivity and task completion. It’s great for optimizing repetitive task work or achieving efficiency in the short term, but is it wise to approach human nature the same way? What is the cost of conforming to someone else’s way and seeing things only in that one way?

Divergent thinking is beneficial because we consider otherwise wild and crazy options. It represents a type of intelligence because you learn to recognize new solutions when you haven’t learned how. Divergent thinking drives innovation, passion and creativity, plus it gives people an emotional lift. It can be the key to discovery. When we begin evaluating, then we tend toward convergence.

The problem is most people are not comfortable with perpetually asking questions. After practicing divergent methods, people must narrow down their choices in order to take action. Taking action is important in order to learn and to discover what works within the range of possibilities developed by divergent thinking. Once you have gone through the trial and error of action, you’re able to evaluate and put into practice the solutions that enable you to be able to live a rewarding life, while continuing to be open to ideas that will enrich it further.

There are great benefits to be reaped by giving divergent thinking preference. If we are unsatisfied with the status quo or refuse to accept only a single answer that is not working for us, then divergent thinking can help us break out.

Lori Filipek, Vishnu Reddy-Burla, Becky Cronin, Philippe Bitton, Cynthia Price, Mary Bourgeois, and Ryan Christman participated in the RealitySeeker meeting and contributed to this article.

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