Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive Flexibility

From Latin flexibĭlis, derived from flectĕre “, “yielding”.

Cognitive flexibility is the human ability to adapt cognitive processing strategies to cope with new and unexpected conditions and unexpected detours and stumbles and falls. It involves adapting our knowledge and changes in our behaviour, as the conditions and context around us change.
And although – in fact – cognitive flexibility may represent our ability to adapt, this adaptation does not always come about. In situations where we should show flexibility to cope with changes, but we are unable to do so, this is referred to as cognitive rigidity.

Often, we find ourselves in a situation of cognitive rigidity when we insist on carrying out actions that have proved effective in the past but, instead, are not effective under the changed current conditions; when we persevere in making the same mistakes and fail to draw any useful lessons from them. Whatever activity we perform – whether it is an operational task in our daily jobs or performing a complex task – we are actually operating in environmental conditions that change as the activity – whether it is the task or the job – is performed and progresses. For this reason, not only must we always keep a close eye on the conditions in which we operate, but we must be constantly ready to restructure our knowledge in order to effectively interpret the new situation and the new requirements of the task and to adapt our behaviour to the new conditions.

Having good cognitive flexibility means just that, and it is a skill that also involves a learning process, which can be acquired through experience and training.
In a world that is moving increasingly faster and in unexpected ways, a cognitively flexible person is usually stimulated by change, is comfortable in situations where possible routes are unknown, enjoys testing and learning new skills and is able to consider multiple perspectives and options at the same time.