Right Brain vs Left Brain in the Work Place

Have you ever noticed that some of your employees or fellow workers are easier to work and communicate with than others?  Have you found that some colleagues are easy to understand and you can follow their directions when they are explaining work-related issues?  Have you been confused by a supervisor’s description of a new job task and don’t really know what you are supposed to do or how?

The problem might be as simple as a difference in communication and learning styles.  With all the interest in dyslexia and being right-brained you might have come to the conclusion that you identify with some or many of the problems, qualities and traits of the right-brain thinking style.  Everybody has use of both sides of the brain unless there is some medical issue but most people tend to be inclined to process and function more from one side than the other.  There is nothing wrong with this but it can make your job a frustrating and stressful place to be.

Let me give you an example.  Joan is an accountant and is managing the accounting and production department of a entertainment industry business.  She was moving on and had hired Anne, a potential replacement for her.   There was going to be a lengthy training period of several months.

During this time Joan started to notice that she was having a difficult time trying to teach Anne her accounting system and office procedures.  Joan definitely thinks in a right-brain fashion.  She thinks about the “whole picture” of the company’s business system and then breaks it down into its individual components when she is discussing and strategizing work related issues.  She hates details.  She is intuitive, extremely creative,  problem-solving and sees everything from many directions all at once.  She is able to move from one task and quickly refocus on a completely unrelated issue such as  working out a budget and then shifting effortlessly to an expected emergency phone call from a client or vendor.   When she conveys her views to Anne she starts with the global or “big picture” and then discusses the details in a general fashion expecting Joan to intuitively fill in the blanks like she does. Everything starts with the “complete image” of the business and accounting department and then divides down into its main components.  Joan however,  puts less emphasis or time on the details.

Anne processes information and works in a completely different thinking style.  She was confused by Joan’s initial approach to teach Anne her job by starting with a description of the whole business and accounting system.  She was overwhelmed and confused and not able to handle the “big picture” with its multi-layered departments.  Anne was baffled by Joan’s daily list of seemingly unrelated tasks.  She didn’t know where to start and tended to not get more than one or two items finished in a day.  Anne was very detail oriented and fretted over small issues or the order that the jobs were supposed to be done in.

Joan got frustrated with her trainee’s concerns and quite frankly could not comprehend what her problems were about.    The two of them could not relate or communicate with each other on any level and Joan was getting nowhere training her replacement.  Months into the job  Anne was not any further ahead understanding her job.

Joan talked to me about the  problems she was facing and was desperate to find some solutions.  I suggested to her that Anne seemed to be working from a more left-brain learning style and Joan, of course, was operating more from the right which put them at cross purposes with each other.

We worked out a plan where she would start to describe the accounting system from the most basic details moving forward in a sequential ascending hierarchical order.  Her approach should  be completely logical.  Anne would therefore be working towards understanding the accounting picture through a step by step process moving towards an over all understanding of the whole system.  Also Joan broke her tasks down to shorter more organized lists and gave Anne a time frame for finishing them.  Joan presented every aspect of the accounting system from the first step and ending at the over all picture.

Anne started to respond to Joan’s new approach and began to feel more successful which opened her up emotionally and helped her to have better self-esteem.  She started to understand the business’s structure and how everything was inter-related.  Anne would always need to work out a task or a problem in a sequential order but she could now handle her job.

So the next time you find yourself butting heads with a fellow worker, supervisor or employee you might want to think about how you are approaching the job with them.  Consider how you might improve your communication with them by recognizing their learning style and yours and how you can come to “a meeting of the minds”.

Karey Hope deGraaf
Dyslexia Victoria Online

Why Dyslexics can be Successful

‘If I wasn’t dyslexic, I probably wouldn’t have won the Games. If I had been a better reader, then that would have come easily, sports would have come easily… and I never would have   realized that the way you get ahead in life is hard work.’

Bruce Jenner winning the gold medal for                     decathlon in the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics

I often read articles that talk about how successful Dyslexics owe much of their achievement to their resolve and persistence developed over years of struggling with their learning issues.

Okay, fair enough. Dealing with Dyslexia can definitely make you strong, resilient and determined. Trying to navigate through school systems that don’t teach subjects such as spelling, reading and arithmetic in a way that makes sense to a Dyslexic or right-brain student can be confusing, frustrating, humiliating and frightening.

Many Dyslexics don’t make it and will drop out of school,  have to settle for lower paying jobs in sectors that don’t require much reading or writing or even end up in prison or on welfare.

Those that are fortunate enough to have lots of support from home and are tenacious with Teflon coated skins will become tough and very adaptable.  They will constantly be compensating for areas they are weak in to overcome their Dyslexic issues and work harder than the average person to get through university, training colleges and hold down a job.  They will often go out of their way to hide their Dyslexia and cleverly manage areas of their lives they can’t resolve.

For example, many Dyslexics are entrepreneurs, top level executives or managers and  will have an assistant or staff who handle all their written work and reading. The people they choose to have around them will generally be discreet about their boss’ issues and very accommodating.

Actors will have someone read their lines to them, star athletes will have plays or strategies demonstrated to them visually or physically but not written down, architects or engineers work with visual three dimensional computer programs such as CAD systems and many Dyslexics rely on using computers and digital devices to do their written work and check their spelling! Also many computer programs use visuals extensively. Every Dyslexic or strongly right-brained person I know who has a Mac loves them due to its heavy emphasis on visual information and intuitive common sense instructions.

So yes, part of their success is due to a lifetime of trying very hard. But there is another element that makes their “trying very hard” successful. Lots of people can try hard but have limited success. Dyslexics and right brain thinkers have a huge advantage; the “right brain” thinks in the “big picture” and is all about problem solving. Dyslexics are the definition of thinking outside the box and multi-tasking. So their success is due to a tough background and an analytical and tactical nature that is one of the greatest gifts of Dyslexia.

Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online


"One to two of these employees could be Dyslexic"

The common understanding of Dyslexia is it is a condition which causes difficulty with reading, writing and spelling; ‘children who get their letters back to front’.

Early attempts to describe the condition did focus on its implications for written language skills, particularly reading, but the modern understanding is much broader.  Dyslexia is for life and the constitutional difference which caused problems with reading, writing and spelling persists into adulthood.

What is Dyslexia?

People with Dyslexia have a differently organized brain structure and therefore have a different way of learning and organizing their thoughts.

This may cause a variety of ‘symptoms’, and the particular selection and severity to which each is affected will vary from person to person.

The condition is independent of intelligence but those in whom it is most easily recognized are those who range from average intelligence to those who are exceptionally bright.


Studies have shown that 1 in 6 of the population will be affected to some degree and may need help for their difficulties at some stage in their life.

Types of difficulties

The most common weakness is in short term memory, whether visual or auditory. It is this which makes it difficult for the Dyslexic to learn the correspondence between the written symbol and spoken word. Language represents a memorised code and written symbols are the code for spoken sounds.

Sequencing is often another weakness. Besides affecting spelling – getting the letters in the right order – it also has a bearing on planning and organization.

Reading for information is often not a problem, though reading aloud is very difficult for some Dyslexic people.


In the identification of Dyslexia, ‘incongruity’ is the keyword.

A discrepancy may be observed between academic achievement and real life performance in practical problem solving and verbal skills.

The Dyslexic person will often have an aversion to writing notes, reports, or, in fact, anything at all.

He may have difficulties with organization, or may be ‘super-organized’ as a compensating strategy.

Note: The Dyslexic adult will often have developed excellent coping strategies and avoidance techniques and may be quite difficult to identify.

Dyslexic adults will often refuse promotion, even if the job is well within their capabilities, if the new post requires more literacy skills.

The Employer’s role

Dyslexia is best thought of as an alternative or different learning style.  By using methods which suit their learning style, Dyslexics can overcome many of their problems.

A good employer will bear in mind the incidence of Dyslexia and that several of his employees may be Dyslexic. There will be those whose problems are obvious in that they relate to basic literacy skills but there will be those whose difficulties only manifest themselves subtly. There is much that an employer can do to make it possible for the Dyslexic person to carry out his job efficiently.

Training and induction courses, interviews and all presentations need not rely heavily on the written word.  Multi-sensory (hearing, seeing, saying, doing) aids should be used where at all possible.

Internally produced policies, procedures and factual data can be kept to a minimum and produced with good indexing for easy retrieval.

Pictograms can be used wherever possible for instructions and information.

Alan McDowell
Proud to be Dyslexic
Assessor and Trainer for Dyslexia Awareness in the Workplace in the UK – Retired
If you would like communicate with Alan please email him at:

Right and Left Brain Employees Communicate Differently, Sometimes Really Differently

If you’re right brained and have a job working with anyone left brained, particularly supervisors, you may have noticed how difficult it can be to communicate with them.  They probably don’t understand you at all – what you need to be able to do your job properly, why you ask so many questions, why “just do it” just doesn’t cut it.  We right brainers don’t think the same way as the lefties and since the world spins for them, they think it’s our fault when we don’t understand them.  They’re not bad people really.  They just don’t get it, and don’t see why they should.  In their minds, we either need to change to suit them or we’re not suited to the job.  Well, it’s time to tune them in and do a little educating of our own so they can learn to communicate with US, and take advantage of our enormous often misunderstood and untapped potential.

Here’s an example.  Your supervisor – we’ll call him Leftie – tells you to clean up the office storage room.  And then he walks away.  You stand in the storage room looking at overflowing boxes and shelves full of mismatched paper and ancient supplies and the painting the son of the big boss gave him as a birthday present, the broken Halloween and Christmas decorations, the video equipment that belongs in a museum, and Leftie’s box of autographed baseballs he’s trying to flog to the rest of the staff without the big boss knowing about it.  And you ask yourself, what does he mean by “clean”? Do I throw it all away? Do I tidy and sort and categorize? Do I dust the shelves and polish the floor?  Do I ask the big boss what he wants done with his son’s masterpiece?  Do I give Leftie his box of baseballs and run the risk the big boss might possibly stop by for a chat?  So you go to Leftie’s office and wait at the door while he’s on the phone.  He ignores you for ten minutes and then hangs up giving you a look dripping with sarcasm and says, “What?”  You start to sweat because you know he’s going to blow up the second you start asking questions.  So you try stammering out the first question and he looks at you with arched eyebrows for about five seconds then interrupts and says the dreaded words, “Just do it!”

You trudge back to the storage room and stand there looking at the mess and wonder what to do.  You might even stay there a long time thinking of a hundred possible ways you could “clean” and be totally paralyzed as a result, because we righties tend to be perfectionists and like to do things right the first time, in the quickest amount of time.  In the end, not exactly sure what Leftie wants you to do, you move a few boxes around and tidy up a bit and fix a shelf maybe, throw out what looks like trash on the floor and then return to your desk.  Leftie shows up not long after asking why you’re sitting at your desk when you haven’t finished the job he assigned you, and then marches you past all your co-workers like he’s hauling you off to the principal’s office.  He flings open the storage room door and in a condescending, frustrated and angry tone, he orders you to throw certain items away, label the boxes and stack them in the corner, hide the masterpiece behind the shelves along with the baseballs, donate the video equipment to the local school, and buy some new shelving.  Then he stalks out of the room without a glance back in your direction.  Your heart pounds and you know he’s making a mental note for your next review.  But now you can get on with the job.

You might ask the perfectly reasonable question, how would even a left brained person know what to do in this situation? Since Leftie didn’t give any instruction at all, what could he possibly expect from ANY employee? But this happens all the time.  I’ve seen it over and over again.  And what I’ve noticed is the left brained employee will usually dive into the situation and do what they think the supervisor wants, whether they understand it or not, and not ask questions.  They may get some or all of it wrong, and often not even finish the job, but Leftie will give them an “A” for effort and initiative and probably not go as hard on them as he would on you for being unable to even start the job without asking a bunch of annoying questions.

We’ve all been so conditioned NOT to ask questions from our earliest classroom experiences – how many teachers really like to be interrupted?  They will ask if anyone has a question, but often what they really mean is, “which dummy out there didn’t get what I was just saying and how much time do we have to waste answering their question?”  And this problem exists very much the same way in the work place.  Asking a question is almost the same as saying, “I’m an idiot and didn’t get it the first time”.

We right brainers are what I like to call “reality thinkers”.  We think the same we live: in the real world.  And we see the WHOLE world in front of us, at least as it relates to whatever we’re doing at that moment in time.  That means we see every possible direction we can take and every option for solving a problem.  Try going five directions at once and see how far you get.  But that’s what happens in our brains.  If we’re in charge and can lay out our own path, no problem. Our analytical brains will leap instantly into action, envision the end result and come up with multiple charts and maps to get it done before our chair is cold.  But if someone else is making decisions, we need specific, concrete answers to all our questions, or we can’t move in any direction.  That’s just how we’re wired.

Once we have answers, we can solve multiple problems in multiple ways, faster than just about anyone else.  We’ll figure out the most efficient, accurate and complete way to do a task and often set standards or create procedures that others will follow for years after.  We can come up with the best way to do something, because we’ve first thought about ALL the ways to do it and then distilled those down to the best possible solution.  But to get there, we need INFORMATION, which means specific and complete answers to all our questions.

So, to all those Lefties out there, your right brained employee is just dying to do a great job for you but you need to give them the time of day.  You need to be patient, encourage them to ask questions and give complete and specific answers, and you will get amazing results.  To all those righties out there who are trying to communicate with a Leftie, tell them why you need the information and keep telling them until they get it.  Then dazzle them.

Cate Frearson
Wandering Writer for Dyslexia Victoria Online

Brad Elder – an Eloquent Dyslexic Spokesperson

Recently I was looking up some specific info for a client from our book “Assessments and Evalutions” for Dyslexics.  My mother and partner, Jan Turner put this book together outlining and detailing our methods for assessing for Dyslexia.  When I was going through the book I noticed an introduction that I had never paid attention to before.  It was an excerpt  from a Dyslexic gentleman named “Brad Elder” from one of his webpages about being Dyslexic.  I was fascinated, called Jan and asked her about him.  Jan said he and she had communicated for  awhile a few years ago about Dyslexia.  They had ideas in common and differences of opinion which she found really interesting.  She said he was a really fascinating  man to talk to in regards to Dyslexia, what it is to experience it and how to work with it.

I decided to track down his webpages and I found his home page and then other ones connected to it. I also Googled his name and found more.  I also found many commonalities in our beliefs and approaches to Dyslexia and his list of sources are helpful and his view of  the experience of  Dyslexia is very moving and enlightening for those trying to understand how it feels,  how to deal with it and to realize as Dyslexics we are not alone.

So I have quoted part of his home page and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I strongly suggest you go to his other webpages and review Brad Elder’s information and sources.  Also, I am trying to find a good email address or phone number for Brad.  If anyone knows how to contact him, please let me know.  You can email me at: khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Karen Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Brad Elder  and Dyslexia

Brad Elder and Dyslexia

So here is my tail.

Sorry but its a little cluttered.

by Brad Elder

I have left this un spell checked so that you can see my world a little better.

Like I said this is really hard to put into words.  Hard on the emotional level.  But I think it will help me to do it.  And I hope it will help you.

Ok,  where to start.  well I was diagnosed in the 6th graid.  That really helped!!!  It was the single biggest event in my life.  Suddenly there was a name for my problem.  I wasn’t lazy, or didn’t cair, or was………  what ever they called me that week.  It was like the unevers was lifted off my sholders.  I think I know what it must be like to slowly sufficate.  I don’t know really how to describe it to you but i’ll try:

Imagen that nobody could see their hands.  Everybody in the world.  Nobody can see anything from the elbo down.   Also assume that everybodys  hands work just like thay do right now today.    Now what if your hands didn’t work like “the normal hand”?   What If you didn’t have any fingers?  Everyone else can type, turn keys, scrach an ich, dress them sleves, tie there shoes, and feed them sleves.  Every one but you.  No one can see why you can’t “Do what everyone else can”.  You don’t know  why you can’t do what “normal” kids can.  You just know you can’t.   you walk and talk just like every one else.  there is no way to see an obvous reason why you can’t do it.  Adults don’t know.  How could they.  All they can see is a kid that isn’t doing what they were told to do.   And they lable you lazy, slacker, rebbel, and what ever they can come up with…….They my even point you out to your class mates and tell them not to be like you.

Rember You Have NO Idea Why You Can Not Do What The Normal Kids Do.


All you know is that no matter what,  nomatter how hard you try,  you just can’t do it.   You will,  as your only choise, beleave the adults.  You must be lazy.  You must really be a slacker.  How could anyone be as worthless as you? the other kids susceed.  They must be trying.  You, there for, are not trying.

I want you to stop here and think about this senario.  Where does a Child go from here?  where does a Child go when they KNOW, becaues everyone tells them, they beleave with all there heart,  they are worthless?  Who does a Child turn to when everyone (even your parents) give up on you?

I really  want you to think hard about that.


This was me at ten years of age.  I wanted to die.  Not because I was depresed (though I’m shure I was) but because I was imbarsed to be alive.  I was imbarsed for my parents,  for my sisters, for my teachers.    I loved them all and respected there openions.  After all they could do what I could not.  How could anyone deserve the burden of putting up with me?

Don’t you quit!!!

How are you going to get help?  no one, not even you know the truth.  you have no fingers!!!  thats it.  Nothing sinester about your behavior.  you just don’t have any fingers!!
Your only chance will be if someone actualy sees you.  and says to them self “what a nice kid.  shurly if they could have tied their shoe thay would have.  I wonder why they don’t?”  If your luckey they will have heard of a handy cap called “nofinger” that has symptems like yours.  And they will sugest that you get testing.

To parents reading think about this.  How can a Child get help if the parents don’t want to help?  “My Kid Is Normal!”  “Not My Son!!”  “My Daughter Is Just Quiet”.  the world cann’t help unless you allow it.  I don’t know what self centered fears parents have about children,  But try and rember “a rose by anyother name would smell as sweet”.  your child is alive and suffering and is a rose by any name.  Any help you can give them will help them bloom.  Many of my friends in the LD classes I have through out my life never were alowed to sucesed because their parents refeusd th help.

Don’t you quit!! (eather of you)

Now suppose all the politics required in getting parents, teachers and famly menbers involved come togeather and you are going to get tested.
You probably won’t know or cair about whats going on.  You have spent 10 years being told and fearmly beleaving that you are just dumb and lazy.  And lord knows you have seen your shair of tests.  The test is a new fangled machane that takes a picture of your hand and can see what we can’t.  after the test you are shown the results and have them explained to you.

you are not lazy.  you just don’t have any fingers!!!!!!!
Of corse no one could tie there shoes if they didn’t have fingers!!!
Of corse no one could dress them selves if they didn’t have fingers!!!
Of corse no one could type if they didn’t have fingers!!!!!!!
Of corse!!!!!!!!

I hope that helps you under stand.   I finaly knew why I couldn’t tie my shoes.  There was a reason.  and it wasn’t because I was lazy!

I really got mad after that.  I was mad at all my teachers.  mad at everyone who was trusted with my life and failed!  I soon (longer for others) forgave them all as They  did’t know anymore than I that there was aproblem (execpet that they did’t lisson to me.  But who lissons to a 10 yr old who doesn’t do what he is told).  I thought that that was it!  I’d  just show the teachers “look here are my test results, look no fingers!  I can’t type.  but I can tell you the answer.”
well that didn’t happen. All, most all, of them didn’t buy it.  and a few were determind to show the class and the world that I was a faker.   My math teachers were indeferent.  They didn’t cair about it at all. and they didn’t change anything.  but at least they didn’t fight me.  a few of my english teachers realy let me have it.   I couldent rember the alphibet, (and still can’t!!) but had to sit in on recesse and after school to look up the spelling of words.

Now if you have no fingers how can you type?   how comical would it be if you were held in the class room during recess and after school because you didn’t finish or didn’t do your typing corectly?  I wasn’t laughfing then and can only find sad hummer in it now, but that was my life in the sixth grade.  Dyslexiecs generaly can’t spell or do math because we revers letters and numbers.  I still (as you can see) can’t spell. K through 12th grade and I was punished for not being able to spell through it all.  Just as if I had no fingers and was being punished for not being able to type.  The logic behind it is insane!!!  I was going to flunk remadal english in the 6th grade.  remeadial english is nothing but spelling. its the spelling class from hell.  my teacher would make me stay in from recess and after school EVERYDAY!!!!! correcting the spelling on my test.  How do you spell a unknown word?  you look it up?

For more of this entry from Brad Elder please follow this link:

Welcome to Brad (Darb) Elder’s Dyslexia page

Also Google his name Brad Elder for other pages related to him.

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