Lateral Thinking Skills

Do you require lateral thinking skills to function well in your job role? This article provides a guide on how you can develop the skills and include them on your resume.


What are Lateral Thinking Skills?

People in different fields and industries may try to solve problems using direct, rational thinking, while others may examine problems using a unique approach. Lateral thinking is the process of using indirect reasoning to develop a solution to a particular problem. Understanding what lateral thinking is can help you solve problems and help you find unique solutions to difficult situations.

Lateral thinking is a concept proposed by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1967. This process describes a person’s ability to solve problems using reflective solutions that go beyond logical and deductive reasoning. In simple terms, this process means that a person thinks creatively to solve complex problems. People often rely on logical reasoning to solve problems. Logical reasoning, which some people call vertical thinking, allows people to solve problems in a straightforward way. In contrast, lateral or horizontal thinking allows people to see things differently.

Lateral thinkers can find solutions to problems that are not obvious to others. Therefore, lateral thinking is a useful skill in many areas. It is the essence of creativity that can be useful in the workplace, especially in times of change, when conventional solutions may be inconsistent. For example, marketers and advertisers often hire people with this skill so that they can bring new perspectives to their promotions. For this reason, many employers ask questions to test the lateral thinking skills of potential candidates.


Importance Of Lateral Thinking

  • Promoting creative thinking in the workplace

A manager with lateral thinking skills will encourage employees to brainstorm and come up with creative solutions from their perspective, rather than having ideas sprinkled from above. As employees rarely have more information than management, innovative ideas from the team are bound to lead to innovative solutions.

  • Growing individuals and businesses

When everyone else is repeating the same traditional actions, lateral thinkers have the advantage of approaching problems from a different angle, which allows them to achieve more. Whether it is maximizing profits or expanding the product range, the lateral-thinking leader will always find a path to success that other leaders cannot.

  • Fostering a culture of continuous learning

Continuous learning is the breeding ground for lateral thinking and one of the key steps to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Continuous learning can help leaders to acquire knowledge from anywhere. Those in leadership roles should seek to learn from other experienced leaders, as personal experience is an excellent resource for learning.


How to Improve Your Lateral Thinking Skills

  • Practice mindfulness

The basic idea of lateral thinking is to take into account the surrounding factors and components of a situation. By practicing mindfulness, you can increase your ability to see the circumstances and elements of a particular problem or solution. You can enhance this awareness by taking time to observe, record, and analyze your current environment.

In addition to observing your environment and conditions, practice mindfulness of your habitual thought patterns. You can observe and evaluate your thought patterns to find and release constraints that may hinder the lateral method or creativity. You can use a mind map to record and track your thought process and become aware of your skills

  • Consider alternative approaches

Alternative solutions can be an excellent way to develop and explore new processes and discoveries. You can consider and test an unconventional solution even if you already know the logical solution. Particularly in creative roles and fields, choosing an alternative approach can increase your ability to achieve a goal or set you apart from your competitors in the market.

To identify these alternative answers, you can ask questions or use backward thinking techniques to challenge traditional solutions or identify new connections between situational factors. Think outside the box. Think about why you have rejected other solutions in the past and use this as inspiration for new ideas.

  • Change your thinking process

By changing your existing thought process, you can develop new and creative ways of thinking. Common ways of changing existing logical thinking patterns can include changing the relationships between factors or implementing the opposite implicit direction. You can also try to identify and refute any previous assumptions or connections made at the beginning of your thinking process.

  • Ask questions

The lateral thinking process generally aims to gather and use as much information as possible to identify alternative answers or ideas. You can get even more information by asking questions. Ask for information, whether or not it is related to the topic or problem, to gather as much data as possible. Even random questions can give you ideas, inspiration, and information to develop a creative solution. If you find an answer to a question that inspires you, use follow-up questions to gather even more information about the topic and continue to develop the solution.

  • Challenge the norms

Creativity and lateral thinking are about challenging or avoiding conventional processes and procedures to find new and fresh ideas. You can easily develop and share unique and original solutions by actively identifying and ignoring your habitual thoughts and habits. If you learn to ignore or challenge conventional solutions, there will be more opportunities for alternative methods to emerge.

As well as challenging conventional processes, try to identify and challenge any constraints that are normally imposed on the situation. When working in marketing or advertising, you can experiment by pushing conventional boundaries to create a new method of communication and attract consumer attention. Start by defining the parameters of the situation and then try to find practical ways to challenge them.

  • Look for inspiration

Using a lateral approach usually starts with creative thinking. Inspiration for the creative thinking process and solutions can come from anywhere, so pay attention to your environment and be receptive to inspiration from different types of stimulation. Each of your senses can suggest or trigger an idea and enhance your lateral thinking skills. Be open to sights, smells, sensations, sounds, and even tastes to inspire you and explore new ideas. Anything that activates your brain or triggers your creative process can help you see things from a different perspective.

  • Use transitional objects

A transitional object can look like a person or an object that has specific characteristics that inspire you. You can use these characteristics to look at a problem from a new perspective. The ideas and attributes you give to this object or person can be taken from a film, a TV program, or your imagination. This allows you to use non-traditional thought processes and can help you to develop a lateral solution.


Jobs that Require Lateral Thinking Skills

The following jobs require lateral thinking skills:

  • Marketing and Advertising

Marketing is a skill that requires new and exciting ideas and ways to stand out from your competitors.

With so much competition these days, lateral thinking skills are considered gold dust by marketing companies, who pay generous salaries to those who can help their brand stand out.

The same thing happens in advertising, although it is more focused on pure sales than branding.

  • Teaching

Teaching requires very good lateral thinking skills, as you will need to find engaging ways to teach a potentially dry subject.

You will also need to find a way to keep unruly students on target. This can be a very difficult task.

  • Authoring/Writing

This point needs no explanation. Writing requires excellent lateral thinking to generate ideas and communicate them engagingly and interestingly.

  • Graphic design/Gaming

Designing an epic poster or a groundbreaking video game is not something to be taken lightly. However, those with excellent lateral thinking skills can help to achieve such results.

To do any of these things at a good level, you will need a lot of imagination, enormous patience, and a wide artistic range. If you think you have what it takes and are interested in these areas, a career in graphic design or game design may be for you.

  • Architecture

Have you ever wanted to leave a lasting legacy in your community or even the world? Try testing your lateral thinking skills by pursuing a career in architecture.

Remember that you will also need strong mathematical and analytical skills, so this profession may not be for those who are only lateral thinkers.

However, if you have both linear and lateral thinking skills, a career in building design may be the challenge you are looking for.

  • Public relations

Public relations is not all glitz and glamour, as it often involves new and creative modes of representation and unique solutions to various crises.

PR professionals are often charming, and professional and have strong personalities – a trait often found in strong lateral thinkers.

However, public relations is not exactly an easy path, and you will find that the pressures of the industry can push your lateral thinking skills to the limit.

  • Sciences

Like architecture, science requires an almost equal balance of linear and lateral thinking skills. You’ll need to be creative in solving problems, but also have excellent analytical skills.

For most lateral thinkers, science can be too difficult. So only choose this profession if you are confident in your linear thinking skills.


How to Include Lateral Thinking Skills In Your Resume

Below are different ways to incorporate lateral thinking skills into your resume:

  • Give examples of how you have used your lateral thinking skills in previous jobs. Mention any problem-solving achievements you are proud of.
  • Describe circumstances in which you found creative solutions to problems or used lateral thinking to develop innovative approaches to projects.
  • Include any awards, recognition, or other special achievements that resulted from your use of lateral thinking.
  • Demonstrate your ability to think outside the box by including any projects or initiatives that you’ve worked on that required creativity, originality, and lateral thinking.


Examples of How to Include Lateral Thinking Skills In Your Resume

The points below illustrate examples of how to include lateral thinking skills in your resume as a Sales Associate:

  • Developed and implemented creative sales strategies to increase customer engagement to drive sales growth
  • Utilized lateral thinking skills to identify opportunities for product improvement and develop new sales strategies
  • Researched and analyzed market trends to identify new opportunities and strategies to maximize sales
  • Developed effective marketing campaigns using lateral thinking to capture target customers’ attention and drive sales
  • Analyzed customer feedback and created innovative solutions to address customer needs and increase sales
  • Leveraged lateral thinking skills to suggest new product features and pricing strategies to increase marketability


How to Demonstrate Lateral Thinking Skills In An Interview

A good way to demonstrate lateral thinking skills in an interview is to be open-minded and creative when answering questions. For example, when asked a question, think of different ways to achieve the same outcome, and explain your thought process. Additionally, be prepared to explain how you would go about solving complex problems, and how you would handle difficult scenarios. This shows the interviewer that you can think outside the box and come up with unique solutions.


Examples of Interview Questions to Test Lateral Thinking Skills

  1. What is lateral thinking?

This question is an excellent way to test your knowledge of lateral thinking and how it can be applied in the workplace. To answer this interview question you need to define what lateral thinking is and give an example of how you have used it in your previous work.

  1. Can you give an example of lateral thinking in action?

Employers ask this question to see if you can apply your lateral thinking skills in the workplace. Use examples from your previous jobs that show how you have used lateral thinking to solve problems and develop creative solutions.

  1. How can lateral thinking help in problem-solving and decision-making?

This question will help the examiner to understand how you apply lateral thinking skills in your work and to assess whether you have experience using them in your working life. Give examples of past experiences where you have used lateral thinking to solve problems or make decisions, for example when faced with a task that required a creative approach.

  1. Is there a difference between lateral thinking and creative thinking? If so, what is the difference?

This question is an excellent way to test your knowledge of lateral thinking and how it differs from other types of thinking. It is important to understand the differences between the two so that you can explain them clearly in an interview.

  1. Can I use lateral thinking to solve problems outside of work or business?

Employers want to know if you can use your lateral thinking skills in different situations. Use examples from your personal life or other professional experiences where you have used lateral thinking to solve problems and succeed.

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