Hey GaryVee, the GOOD, BAD, and UGLY of Circular Thinking

GaryVee punts on questions about how to develop empathy and self-awareness, but without a doubt, he has reached the holy grail of leveraging those critical soft skills.

It’s his competitive advantage to achieve massive scale and influence.

I believe I too have honed these 2 soft skills, and my mission is to help you develop yours too.

GaryVee has inspired me to write a series of articles to help you develop greater empathy and self-awareness, and in my words, to achieve more favorable outcomes on your journey towards cross-cultural performance mastery.

Article #1 – Hey GaryVee, 5 Steps to Develop Empathy

In this 2nd (#2) article, I want to analyze when GaryVee says, “I think holistically…”in the context of impactful versus dysfunctional communications.

When Westerners have difficulty communicating, negotiating, and aligning objectives with Chinese, we often attribute the incongruence to linear versus circular thinking(logic).

I’ve realized that the source of circular reasoning is emotional as much as it is cultural.

The context of understanding “how we think” versus “how others think” (part of being empathetic, as GaryVee frequently espouses) is to understand its manifestations.

  • POSITIVE (Good) – When GaryVee thinks circularly, he is thinking “holistically with empathy” to deliver value to others in a selfless fashion.
  • NEGATIVE (Bad) – When we connect past experiences, perceptions, and impressions in a pessimistic manner, it’s circular thinking that leads to inaction, withdrawal, and lack of patience.
  • DESTRUCTIVE (Ugly) – Think marriage and a heated argument with your spouse. One misspoken word or lack of sympathy unleashes a hailstorm of escalating anger because circularly reasoning connects all past occurrences into a single, utterly unforgivable insult. You are logically trying to apologize for a single action, but the circular reaction encompasses all historical incidents.

Understanding the context of circular thinking requires empathy and self-awareness, but it won’t help you to develop these soft skills.

For that, you need to connect your experiences, whether you were thinking linearly or circular, to the actual outcomes, and continuously make adjustments to your AMA values (attitude, mindset, approach) to achieve more POSITIVE ones.


You will receive exclusive invitations to EME Meetup events, group coaching sessions, online courses, videos, blog posts, China Business 101 lessons, and more…

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