21 Jun Harnessing the best in both big and little picture thinkers in your workplace communication

Do you work with someone who bores you to tears with detail upon detail that you don’t seem to need, and who appears to lose sight of the big picture or objectives?

Or are you frustrated by a colleague who operates from a vague, airy perspective and who doesn’t appear to know the important details?

The Global/Specific Meta program (otherwise known as ‘big chunk/little chunk’), highlights whether you process, think and communicate from a specific or global perspective.


Note: In this meta program, we operate somewhere on a continuum. The following definitions represent ‘extreme’ ends of the scale and are intended to assist you to communicate more effectively, not to ‘box’ or label people inappropriately.

Specific thinkers operate from an in depth perspective and tend to focus on the details or facts and figures. They tend to be INDUCTIVE – they take the detail and extrapolate to the bigger picture.

Global thinkers operate from a universal perspective and tend to draw on the big picture or overall concept. They tend to be DEDUCTIVE – they deduce and come to the smaller detail from the bigger picture.

Communication strategies

Specific thinkers: If you are a specific thinker and find yourself communicating with people who start from general principles, it can be very confusing. Global thinkers will present you with concepts and big pictures. They want the forest first, not the trees.

You will improve communication with these people by talking first about the overall concept and large ideas. Avoid going into detail until you have built good rapport.

Global thinkers: If you are a global thinker and have to communicate with people who are specific thinkers, it can be very frustrating because you are someone who just wants the big picture and can piece the details together. Meanwhile the specific thinker wants to give you the detail, often rendering you entirely bamboozled.


To build rapport with specific thinkers give them lots of details and break information down into small chunks. Once they know the details, you will be able to explain the overall picture to them.

Some attention to people’s global or specific preferences will assist your ability to build rapport and influence. Good luck!