Coaching Common Misconceptions

As I’m coaching Emergenetics® practitioners, I often receive questions about how the seven Attributes interact with each other, where they stand apart and how to articulate these nuances to participants.  Given all the rich distinctions of Thinking and Behavioral preferences, it’s important to have clarity to convey the concepts correctly and feel confident in responding to participants’ questions.  

To support practitioners in being equipped to build understanding of the Attributes, here are a few of the most common misconceptions and clarifying questions that come up in conversation.  

#1 – What’s the difference between the Analytical and Structural Attributes? 

Blue-Green Thinkers are the most common Profile type at about 15% of the population. Because we often see these Attributes in combination, I suspect it’s more difficult for people who do not share those preferences to pull the two Thinking styles apart. 

Analytical Thinking is Abstract in nature, while Structural is Concrete. That means an Analytical approach typically focuses on high-level strategy, accuracy and efficiency, while the Structural style often prioritizes details, consistency and precision. 

Structural Thinkers usually want to know all the facts, timelines and next steps. Analytical Thinkers generally prefer an executive summary and to be left to their own devices to complete a task. They will only concentrate on the details when the big picture does not make logical sense.  

#2 – Are Structural Thinkers usually first-third Flexible? 

No, they are not. The Emergenetics Technical Report reveals no association between the two Attributes. That means someone with a Structural preference could be first-, second- or third-third Flexible.  

People with a Structural inclination may want to know the plan, and if they are third-third Flexible, they tend to be willing to change direction without losing energy. They will simply want more time to establish a new direction and identify the way forward. 

#3 – Do people with a Social preference always prefer third-third Expressiveness? 

Similarly, the Technical Report does not identify an association between the two Attributes, which means a person with a Social preference may have a preference for first-, second- or third-third Expressiveness.  

Social Thinking describes a person’s innate tendency to consider others in decision-making and rely on feelings to guide them – it’s an internal process. Expressiveness describes their behavior, how they interact with the world around them and how they prefer to communicate their thoughts.  

Acknowledging this common misconception with a participant can be a powerful experience. I find that participants with a Social Preference who are also in the first-third of Expressiveness in particular have felt misunderstood by other tools that group thinking and behavioral preferences together. Emergenetics creates a unique space for them by separating out these elements.  

#4 – Do people need to have a Conceptual preference to be creative? 

Absolutely not! The Conceptual style connects to creativity through invention and making unexpected connections between different ideas.  

And preferences do not equate to abilities. People who have preferences for other Thinking Attributes can also tap into creativity, though their approach and energy levels for it may vary. 

Also, every Attribute has its own way of being imaginative. For example, the Social Attribute is likely to get creative by crowd-sourcing ideas, the Analytical Attribute may find unique ways to achieve ultimate efficiency and the Structural Attribute may take inspiration from best practices to create something new. 

#5 – Do organizational skills only align to the Structural Attribute? 

No, this is a common myth that we dispel. Those with a Structural preference may demonstrate the characteristics commonly associated with being organized, such as having a neat workspace or creating detailed lists. However, anyone is capable of bringing order to their work and life. 

Each person is also likely to find their own system that helps them stay on task. It likely won’t make sense to someone without those preferences – and that’s okay! Consider using this conversation as an activity with a team by asking participants how they keep themselves organized. The responses will likely align with their preferences and help facilitate a fascinating conversation about our assumptions and stereotypes! 

#6 – Do those without a Social preference not like people? 

No, this is not a conclusion that should be drawn. Social Thinking describes a style that innately considers the impacts on others and is concerned about honoring feelings. That said, being considerate and socially conscience is a skill. As humans, we are wired to connect, and you can learn more about socioanalytic theory in the Technical Report. 

Everyone will have people they care about, and they will build relationships. We’ve found that individuals without a Social preference often choose different avenues to connect with others. For example, Blue Yellow Thinkers tend to build relationships using intellect and might be more invested in your ideas than your feelings.  

Related to this question, I’ve also found that the Analytical Attribute, which is diametrically opposed to the Social Attribute, can be inaccurately described as being unemotional. The absence of a Social preference does not mean the absence of feeling. It’s just that emotions are less likely to factor into decision-making, problem-solving and their approach to the world. Analytical Thinkers are likely to emphasize logic when they choose a course of action.  

#7 – If I don’t hear from first-third Expressive or first-third Assertive colleagues, is it safe to presume they don’t have an opinion on the topic? 

I would caution against this presumption. From the lens of Assertiveness, people in the first-third often like to keep the peace and will assess if it’s worth saying something against the amount of energy it takes to cause a disruption. Being mindful to invite their perspective and giving them space to do so in a non-confrontational way is essential to hearing their considerations. 

People who are first-third Expressive typically want time to gather their thoughts before responding. If you provide information and ask for immediate reactions, they may not be prepared to deliver input. Allowing them time to pause and reflect on the implications is vital to getting honest feedback. 

#8 – If those in the third-third of Expressiveness are quick to share their thoughts, are they also quick to make decisions? 

Not necessarily. Third-third Expressiveness refers to a Behavioral style that speaks to think. People with this approach typically talk out loud to process information. Do not confuse their processing approach for agreement or support. It’s important to ask follow-up questions to ensure you understand their thinking as they may be speaking to comprehend information, not because they are stating their final opinions. 

#9 – Do people who prefer first-third Flexibility dislike having many options? 

The desire for choice is not isolated to third-third Flexibility – everyone likes having options. The difference is that those in the first-third of Flexibility usually prefer having all possibilities stated upfront. That way, they can evaluate different courses of action and narrow in on one direction. Once they have picked a direction, they are energized by staying the course and seeing their decision come to life. If new options are constantly being introduced, they may lose trust that an end point will ever be reached. 

#10 – Are most leaders third-third Expressive and third-third Assertive? 

No. Especially in the United States, there seems to be an assumption that leadership requires a driving pace and talkative style. Certainly, there are many excellent leaders who display those qualities. I think fondly of our late Founder, Dr. Geil Browning, as I’m reflecting on this approach.  

There are also plenty of brilliant leaders with first-third tendencies, whom I’ve gotten to meet through my work. A first-third Expressive leader will likely listen a great deal and only share their thoughts after careful consideration. With a first-third Assertive style, leaders are more likely to shepherd teams toward a vision from behind the scenes, sharing the wins as a cohesive effort.  

Understanding the common misconceptions and the assets of the Attributes is essential to heighten self-awareness and improve working relationships among the participants you are working with. If you’re an Associate who is eager to learn more about the intricacies of the Attributes, I invite you to download our guide How To: Deliver a Meaningful Profile Debrief. Inside, you’ll discover even more tips and language to effectively explain the differing styles to your stakeholders. Log into Emergenetics+ first, and then click this link 

For practitioners who want to take their expertise to the next level, explore our egElectives course: The Architecture of Emergenetics. The class will help to strengthen your comprehension of the Attributes in isolation and in combination with one another, providing new layers of knowledge to better coach and train your participants.  


Explore egElectives or fill out the form below to speak directly with one of our team members! 


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