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"Picture it" Can you?

There are many different leadership styles. Although one huge debate amongst leaders is do you look at each person individually, or do you treat everyone equally. Those who choose to look at each individually typically have deeper connections amongst their coworkers and make their team members feel recognized. This method has been seen to help project more productivity. To help understand someone, you have to look at them as a whole. There are many components to a person, but one big step is learning their key strengths and weaknesses.

Some people are imaginative and creative people, others are hands-on, but is there more to it than that? Most people have “mental eyes”, meaning that they can imagine and visualize images as vividly in their mind as if they were seeing the items in real life. Although about 2-5% of the world does not have this ability. This condition is referred to as aphantasia, When you are unable to imagine images vividly, what is affected? Memory, spatial recognition, task understanding? There have been several studies to discover how this condition affects this population. One study observed short-term memory by showing participants pictures of a room then asking them to draw what they remember. The study showed that participants were able to recall furniture within the room with proper size, shape, and location, but their drawings were lacking in detail. They would also include fewer objects, and would most often only include big, statement objects in the room like in this example using a bedroom, they would include the bed, window, and rug, but not much of the excess decor. Some were also seen to simply write the term, for instance, “bed”, rather than drawing the object. These subjects helped the observers note a pattern of using verbal representation rather than visual memory. Their study also suggests that people with this condition do not have much of an effect on their spatial awareness. Some people with aphantasia, but not all, report having some difficulty with remembering faces, and events that have occurred throughout their lives. To help jog their memory, attempt to use their name and how they know the person, and to recall events, think of tasks they may have been performing during the time in question.

Some with aphantasia are unaware that they have the condition and have a different experience from other people. Others may feel like they are missing out or confused when others indicate going into your mind to see something. When they are asked to imagine or think of something often they can hear or have strong emotions to the subject rather than see it. The lack of the ability to see within their mind can make it difficult to go through experiences in a similar manner as others. For example, some with this condition, like a man named Niel Kenmuir, struggle with moving on from grief. When Niel’s mother passed, being unable to see her face in his mind caused him to feel very distraught. All these factors associated with aphantasia can help you understand how or why a person with this disorder responds or acts in a certain way.

A good leader would be able to look at all these components and see how it makes up the person as a whole. A team member with this condition may need tasks spoken to them multiple times, rather than having tasks written down at some point. Being able to accommodate each person's needs can help make a healthy and productive workspace.


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