1. Personality, Communication, and Engagement

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    Communication Most of us know that individual differences exist, yet we often forget that when we are communicating. The most powerful communication is one where we are capable of taking the other person's perspective and truly listen to their intentions and deep motivations. Personality typologies can give us powerful models to help us meet others at their view of the world. Temperament theory tells us what are core psychological needs are. If you are having trouble understanding someone else, think about what needs might be behind what they are saying: Improviser: Freedom to act now and to have an impact Stabilizer: Responsibility and a place to contribute Theorist: Competency, mastery, and knowledge Catalyst: Sense of unique identity and deep meaning and significance Recognize those needs and you'll find ways to be more understanding and even speak to these needs. Interaction Styles is a model that describes energy patterns, but behind the behind those patterns are drives with corresponding aims. If we recognize these drives and aims, we understand why someone is being forceful, looking tense, seeming slow to act, or even overly engaging. In-Charge: Drive to accomplish in order to get an achievable result Chart-the-Course: Drive to anticipate in order...
  2. To Test or Not to Test? That is the question.

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    I was recently asked by a colleague, how she could talk to her client about why she usually doesn’t use instruments in her work. I’ve heard from many practitioners who do not use instruments, especially when doing work with Interaction Styles or Temperament alone. However, organizations have come to expect instruments to be used. It is always a decision that the professional needs to make in the diagnostic and contracting phases. I think instruments are very useful when working with some populations who have little experience with self-reflection. However, as people develop, they become more capable of self-reflection. Since I am usually working with objectives that involve fostering development and developing an understanding of others as much as developing an understanding of self, I tend to not use them. Personality is so complex, that I use a process of collecting multiple data points, such as participant responses to presentations of different patterns, feedback from others, written materials, activities, cross checking against multiple models, and sometimes including instrument results. In my experience and those of many other professionals with years of client work, an instrument usually proves to be one of the weakest data points for the following reasons: There seems...
  3. Wisdom and Mindfulness in the Information Age

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    Two weeks ago I attended the Wisdom2.0 conference, which is about “Exploring Living with Awareness, Wisdom, and Compassion in the Technology Age.” I thought it was a great conference and highly recommend it for next year. The theme seemed to be about how much we are constantly wired and digitally connected so how do we stay centered and connected to ourselves and our relationships. Last night I attended a follow up, sponsored by ProjectFresh. Leaving the session last night I had the thought that in both instances I didn’t quite get what I was looking for in the sense of ‘things to do.’ However, on reflection I realized that it isn’t about ‘doing,’ but about how we choose to ‘be.’ I fully enjoyed all the panels and presentations in both events. It was the words of panelist Alex Lightman that sparked me to find an answer to some of the questions I had. He said that the most frequent decisions humans make is where to put your gaze. In other words, where to put your attention. He said that there is an illusion of information overload. If we define information as a ‘difference that makes a difference,’ the rest is...
  4. MBTI® and Other Instruments and Second Order Change

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    If you are a coach or organization change professional you may be wondering if you can use the MBTI® instrument or other typology instruments to get second order change? My answer is yes, IF you know type theory beyond the instrument results and beyond simple dichotomies. You cannot get transformative change by depending solely on the results of the instruments or reports based on simple dichotomies. The very way type is introduced can lead to limited first order change or to more transformational second order change. (Note: this blog uses a lot of short-cut terms that are explained in my article, The Five Lenses of Coaching.) What are First- and Second-Order Change? I found the following simple explanation. First-order change is doing more – or less – of something we are already doing. First-order change is always reversible. Second-order change is deciding – or being forced – to do something significantly or fundamentally different from what we have done before. The process is irreversible: once you begin, it is impossible to return to the way you were doing before. I also found the following useful, brief explanation by Michael Perez First order change: Remedial change. This is a more functionally...
  5. Digital Nation Thoughts

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    Recently I watched Digital Nation on the PBS show Frontline. The show apparently first aired last year, but it and more are on line. This morning at 5 am I found myself thinking about the research and the questions that were raised so I went on line. There I explored even more than was in the program! An hour later…I was writing this blog and still going back to the website. If you are interested, I recommend you start with this page, then explore. I am not a digital native—one who has been using digital media since very early childhood. I am a digital immigrant! Interesting concept. Given stereotypes about my temperament (Theorist-INTP), you would think I’d be fully on board. Well, I am, but it is overload and I’m not yet competent at it. It seems that just like my French—I’ll never be a native speaker, and it may not be possible to rewire my brain that way. If I were in a University setting or a student again, I’d be all over the research on this. I wonder what type differences show up with different responses to all the digital stimulation, constant connectedness, and the brain. The program...
  6. What’s Wrong with the World? BLM

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    As I read the newspaper and hear about the inflammatory rhetoric, I am reminded of why I find personality type models so valuable. Back in the late 1980’s Sue Cooper, a close friend and colleagues, created a catchword for why our work is important. She said that we all suffer from BLM Syndrome—Be Like Me. Since that time I mention this in every workshop I do and it was incorporated it into The Guide for Facilitating the Self-Discovery Process. I’ve shared it with many other professionals as well as the graduates of the Interstrength® workshops. I say something like the following: I’ve been called in to work with you because there is a world-wide epidemic called BLM Syndrome—Be Like Me. We all go around unconsciously expecting others to behave and think like we do. When they don’t, we judge them as wrong, lazy, crazy, or even evil. This disorder is incurable, but we can alleviate the symptoms with what we will explore today. The symptoms will go away, but under stress they can come back. But like all good diagnoses, once we can name it we can get it back under control. There is a related disorder called BLT—Be Like...
  7. Out of a Box and Into Interpersonal Agility™

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    This post is not about out-of-the-box thinking, but about how to keep clients and workshop participants from feeling like they’re being put in a box when introducing them to type models and using type instruments like the MBTI® instrument. Clients often resist type information because of the fear of being put in a box or ‘typecast’ by others. And perhaps the greater danger is limiting themselves by the box they create from the information.   We have a natural tendency to categorize and label. Like the young child with a dog who calls a cat ‘doggie’, we first learn the general characteristics of something, then we generalize them to similar things, than we begin to differentiate.   Set-up or Getting Started The way instruments and/or models are introduced can help take mitigate the problem of people resisting the usefulness and value of the work being done. It can also make a huge difference in how people apply it to themselves to either be in a box or to use it to develop interpersonal agility. Here are just a few of things I use from the Interstrength® Method.   1. Introduce type as a self-discovery process not an instrument result. When...
  8. Temperament and ‘temperament’

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    People often ask me about various other ‘temperament’ models and how they relate. Years ago (in the pre-internet mid 1980’s) when I was going to the post office frequently to mail my dissertation drafts back and forth to David Keirsey for review, the postal clerk asked me what I was mailing so often. Then he asked me what it was about. When I told him temperament, he said his wife had one of those! Over the years as I’ve researched more and more about temperament I discovered that in general the term means something different in the mainstream psychology literature than the way David Keirsey wrote about it Mainstream Definition Classic ‘temperament’ theory goes back to the belief that there were different humors in the body, blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile that were at the root of differences in human behavior. There was a search for physical basis for behavior. Over the years, longitudinal studies have been done with children into adults and certain characteristics seem to have remained throughout the research subjects’ lifetimes. The most researched characteristics have been with the Eysenck definitions of introversion and extroversion, with support for there being a biological basis for these...
  9. Transformative and Transactional Leadership

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    Today’s Los Angeles Times had an op-ed piece entitled “How Obama Lost His Voice and How Can He Get It Back?” I don’t usually read this section of the paper, but a sentence caught my attention. “Abandoning the "transformational" model of his presidential campaign, Obama has tried to govern as a "transactional" leader.”   This blog is not about Obama, but about some thoughts on Leadership. I hadn’t thought about James MacGregor Burns’ concepts since my doctoral program. After all, Burns coined these terms over 30 years ago. They could be briefly summarized as transformational leadership is about changing the ‘world’ and transactional leadership is about maintaining what is. It occurred to me that there might be some relationship to type or to temperament in these terms.   Burns’ wrote his 1978 book, Leadership, as a political scientist and a historian. This book sits on my bookshelf so I opened it up. I don’t think the simple definition above does justice to his concepts so I won’t really comment on those until I reread the book.   On the surface, one might say that transactional leadership would go with the Stabilizer temperament with logistical intelligence or the Improviser temperament with...