How can a person think outside the box

Unconventional Thinking: This is how you see things differently

When everyone has the same thoughts, there are no really innovative ideas. Unconventional thinking is therefore becoming increasingly important in many areas. New, modern and creative approaches are needed - nevertheless, most people are stuck in established thought patterns. Time to change that: We explain the advantages of unconventional thinking and give tips on how you can see things differently ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what does unconventional thinking mean?

Unconventional thinking means turning off the inner autopilot of thoughts and also considering unusual approaches. For questions and problems, we use ideas and solutions that are known. You have already tried something yourself or learned how to react in the situation. Creativity and innovation don't stand a chance.

When thinking outside the box, you leave such familiar patterns of thinking. True to the motto: New paths are created by walking them. At its core, it's about developing fresh ideas and having the courage to think differently.

Synonyms for unconventional thinking

The ability to think in an unusual way and outside of the established thinking boxes has different names. In addition to unconventional thinking, the following terms are used synonymously:

Advantages and disadvantages of unconventional thinking


In many areas there is a real praise for unconventional thinking. Employees are encouraged to think differently, break out of their comfort zone and boldly deal with suggestions. A good attitude, because thinking outside the box has several advantages:

  • New ideas
    Really new ideas can only come about through unconventional thinking. This is particularly important in teams, as otherwise you will quickly step on the spot. A meeting is useless if all participants only bring up familiar ideas and repeat thoughts.
  • Critical questioning
    “We have always done it this way” is not an argument to keep anything. There is much more to be said for questioning outdated structures. Those who can think outside the box achieve exactly that and reflect instead of simply accepting.
  • Creative thinking ahead
    Anyone who immediately resorts to a conventional solution does not have to think further. It is different with unconventional thinking: Here the mental wheels are running at full speed, connections are made and connections are developed. Numerous aspects can be derived and implemented from a single idea.
  • Better results
    Well-known solutions are not necessarily better. Often it is the unusual suggestions that lead to a much better result. So far, no one has thought of it - or no one has dared to suggest the extraordinary ideas.


Is it therefore always advisable to think outside the box? The answer shouldn't be quite so general. Possible disadvantages should not be ignored. You have to take these into account:

  • Longer duration
    Unconventional thinking doesn't always work right away. If the brainstorm is missing, it can take time to find a suitable new idea. If you need to act immediately, you may not have the time.
  • Difficult stance
    Unfortunately, not every boss is open to an unusual idea. Some do not want to know anything about the overly innovative advances made by employees. You should therefore be able to assess how open your work environment is to unconventional thinking.
  • Bad workability
    Unconventional thinking leads to unconventional solutions, the implementation of which can be a major challenge. If the framework conditions are lacking, even the best unusual idea will initially cause more problems.
  • Unnecessary changes
    Think outside the box at any cost? This is a mistake. Sometimes there is no need for new solutions and changes. In English there is the saying “Never chance a running system” - don't change anything that works. An innovation as an end in itself often causes more harm than good.

Think outside the box: With these 7 tips

Thinking outside the box is easy for some. You always seem to think differently, are naturally creative and break with classic thought patterns. Most people find this very difficult. Fortunately, the skill can be learned and trained.

These 7 tips can help you learn to think outside the box and express your unusual views:

  • Have courage
    If you think unconventionally, you are swimming against the current, not only making unusual, but sometimes unpleasant suggestions. It takes some courage. You have to contradict others and have the courage to come up with unconventional ideas.
  • Take advantage of your dissatisfaction
    Frustration with stuck structures and dissatisfaction with always the same proposed solutions are the best impetus for unconventional thinking. Don't just accept it, use your dissatisfaction as motivation to question the approaches. Start with a seemingly simple question: is there no better way?
  • Turn the question around
    “How can we solve this?” Or “What is the most profitable?” Conventional questions lead to conventional answers. Start with a reverse question such as “What does not work under any circumstances?” Or “What can we fail with?” So you inevitably have to think outside the box.
  • Are you interested in many things
    A wide range of interests will help you make connections and think outside the box. Unconventional thinking often also means bringing together different areas that do not seem to fit together at first glance. The more you know, the easier it is. You don't have to be an expert everywhere. Basic knowledge is sufficient.
  • Ask yourself: why not?
    Self-doubt is a major hurdle in thinking outside the box. If you have an unusual idea, you often get the thought “It can't work. Instead, ask yourself the question “Why not?” Don't categorically rule out unusual approaches. Often there is great potential hidden in it.
  • Start a discussion
    "Then we just do it like always ..." Often a topic is off the table. If you want to establish unconventional thinking, you shouldn't just silently agree. Better start a discussion. What is meant is not a dispute, but a constructive exchange. A good starting point is the question: "Are we sure there is no better alternative?"
  • Assert yourself
    There is at least one colleague who, when confronted with an unconventional idea, says “That's bullshit, it never works”. Don't let this discourage you. Show assertiveness and provide good arguments why it works after all. Persistence and low sensitivity to criticism are important considerations for unconventional thinkers.

What other readers have read about it

[Photo credit: FGC by]
★★★★★ Rating: 4.93 / 5 - 125 reviews.
December 22, 2020Author: Nils Warkentin

Nils Warkentin studied business administration at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. On the career bible, he is devoted to topics related to studies, career entry and everyday office life.

Continue to the home page