WHAT’S YOUR CHUNK SIZE? [No rude answers please🤣]

Big picture thinking

This article is particularly focused at dentists and helping them improve performance in their dental practice using an understanding of NLP and communication techniques.

What’s your CHUNK SIZE?

Chunk size… Horrible name I know, but that’s what this ‘filter’ is called. We all have filters in our brain that filter the world around us so we can make sense of it.

This filter looks at the size of the chunk of information that we can process at any given time.

There are two discernible chunk sizes:

  1. Big picture. This is the largest chunk of information that it’s possible to give anyone about a specific topic. It gives the overall plan, the big picture, where are we going, what’s the point? A good example is a full mouth treatment plan where the big picture might be to restore function to the patient’s bite, ease TMJ pain and improve the smile line.
  2. Detail. This is the smallest chunk of information that it’s possible to give anyone about a specific topic. It is essentially the contents of the big picture. In our treatment plan example the detail could be crowning the upper anteriors with zirconia crowns, & opening the bite with a dahl appliance.

Most of us will want all of the information, but it’s in which order we like to receive it – that’s the real key to understand.

  1. Some people like the big picture first. They like to know the overall plan of where they are going and can’t cope with the detail until they know where all of that detail fits in with the big picture.
  2. Some people like the detail first. They like to know the fine detail and can’t conceive of the big picture until they know what the detail is, they can then work out how it all fits together.

Neither is wrong, and it’s important to understand that different people like to perceive and receive information differently.

Some patients might prefer a big picture first treatment plan, which leads gently into the detail.

Some patients might prefer a detail first treatment plan, which gently leads into the big picture.

So ask them, “When I present this treatment plan to you, would you like the big picture or the detail first?”


This is where I think it gets interesting. Dentists are often brilliant at going from BIG PICTURE to MICRO DETAIL in the blink of an eye.

“Hello Mrs Jones, I haven’t seen you for 6 months, what’s been happening in your life?” (Big picture) – “Now let’s look at the mesio-buccal cusp of your LL6” ( micro-detail)

You do this everyday – Big picture > Micro-detail really fast.

It’s what you do.

But not everyone thinks the same way.

So be aware – dentists have a tendency to think big picture down to micro-detail incredibly fast!

We can now understand this in a clinical setting, but it also works when communicating with your team and thinking about your business, it’s easy for dentists to miss out a whole load of incredibly useful information that sits in the middle of the big picture and micro detail – and when we are communicating with others or thinking about managing our business, that information in the middle can be vital to our success!

If you’d like to help with your thinking, achieve more in life and business and restructure the way you communicate then book a discovery call to talk about Elite Breakthrough Coaching, it comes at no cost and no obligation!



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