Note: There is an updated version of this page at Typologies.

About Types

Types are categories of things. In living systems types exist in nature and these types determine sets of natural tendencies. These natural tendencies incline us to use different styles of interaction, communication, and leadership. Types that are innate are more than categories of behaviors, mind sets or value perspectives Behaviors and mind sets are reflective of the inner psychological needs and drives behind these tendencies. We are unconscious of these needs and drives.

Typologies are ‘maps’ that describe the essential qualities of these types and make them visible to us. Once in our awareness we can make more conscious choices about our intentions/meaning making, our behavior, our relationships, and the structures/systems in which we operate. Some approaches to typology are more comprehensive than others and include a recognition that type occurs in a context and is influenced by the cultural memes as well as development. Integral Type is such an approach.

Typology frameworks give us a language to understand themes of behaviors, deep motivations and drives, talents and more. We all have a disease called BLM (Be Like Me). Having a map of understanding differences helps us get out of BLM. It also helps us get out of BLT (Be Like Them) and move into self-leadership.

Typology frameworks will give us ways to understand our natural tendencies such as . . .

  • Communication styles
  • Leadership styles
  • Hidden agendas
  • Approaches to problem solving, information, evaluation processes
  • Approaches to conflict
  • and a lot more!

Typologies make the unconscious conscious and can help us understand and manage stress.

The Integral Type Frameworks

Integral Type provides a coherent view, blending three different ways of looking at human beings. Each provides a different lens for different situations. Each brings different information to understanding human behavior, meaning making, and interactions.

Interaction Styles—How we interact, influence and establish rapport (or not)
Essential Motivators (aka Temperament)—Why we do what we do, our deep motivations
Cognitive Dynamics—What information and evaluation process we tend to give preference to and be talented in

Each lens is easily understood and utilized; yet the Integral Type approach gives the means to address the richness and complexity of human beings operating in complex living systems. Integral Type is scalable and can be used as a language to improve communication, make conflict productive, and engage employees while promoting growth.

What makes a good typology?

A good typology describes the inner principles upon which we operate. It gives us information about sources of stress, our talents that help us get our needs and drives met, core values, and behavior patterns. It will be presented as a pattern that stays constant over our lifetime and include dynamic processes that help maintain that pattern. The key to adaptability is to be able to shift along these dynamics processes as the situation demands. Some good typologies also describe paths to growth and development.

Some principles for using typologies . . .

  • Hold the models lightly. The maps are not the territory.
  • Introduce types as a language to understand differences not labels to tattoo on the forehead.
  • Recognize that types are strange attractors. There is something constant in the pattern, and at the same time we are adaptable.
  • Use the frameworks to make what is unconscious conscious.
  • Use the frameworks to increase self-knowledge AND adaptability
  • Use the frameworks to jump start perspective taking
  • Use the polarities for polarity management, not for ‘type casting.’
  • Present the essential qualities of the type patterns AND the dynamic polarities that operate within and between.

Recognize that . . .

  • Different models bring different kinds of information to understanding who we are.
  • Some of the patterns of development look like some of the type patterns or vice versa so it is important to learn about other frameworks and models.
  • Don’t confuse development with type.
  • Don’t confuse type with development.
  • Don’t confuse cultural values with types.
  • Don’t confuse types with cultural values.
  • We are more than our types and we are more than the sum of our experiences.
  • We have all the types within us and yet one is home base.
  • All types occur at all levels of development. They just express differently.
  • As we develop, types are harder to identify. A simple instrument won’t work by itself.
  • Instruments are not the framework and no instrument is 100% accurate. They are merely maps of the maps!

Don’t get caught in the maps.

Other useful typologies

At Integral Typeworks we recognize that there are other typologies that are very useful. We are not experts in these typologies, but seek to know enough about them that we can identify what characteristics belong to the Integral Type frameworks and what belongs to somehing else. We have found that the Enneagram is a useful framework when used in the hands of the skilled facilitator. We recognize that not all typologies will speak to every person.

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