“Worry About Yourself” How Directing can you get?!

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Out of the mouth of babes came a wonderful example of Directing language and probably the In-Charge Interaction Style!


This 47 second video showed up in the Huffington Post and the Today Show.  I was turned on to it today on Facebook by colleague Vicky Jo Varner whose comment was that this kind of Directing language was innate. I was fascinated by the comments posted in the Huffington Post and on the facebook link. Some people thought she was being rude and that the father shouldn’t encourage her. Others thought it was great that she was expressing her independence and that she would be strong. Some predicted she would be a handful when she grows up.

Here is what I posted on the Huffington Post site as a comment:

It is very, very cute and she is so polite even though direct and forceful in asserting her independence. This is not just about learned behavior. Yes, she probably heard the phrase before, but longitudinal research with children has shown that temperament* differences are there from the beginning. Her intonation and direct communication style is likely natural. It can serve her well in the future and it can get also her in trouble, especially in a culture that says that kind of directness is appropriate for men and not for women.

As parents it helps us do our jobs to know that there are constitutional differences and that she is not intending to be rude or disrespectful. If we reprimand her for being direct, we are saying to her that who she is by nature is not of value. Then she is likely to either turn the volume up on it with an attitude of ‘I’m going to be me no matter what’ or suppress it and let her true self go underground with a dent in her self-esteem.

On Facebook I did point out that she probably did hear her parents saying ‘Worry about yourself.” But her strong voice tone and sharp pointing gestures are what are likely innate.

If I were to think about her behavior in terms of whole type, I’d say she might have ENFJ preferences. She certainly was aware of the social graces and seemed to want to consider her dad’s feelings when she told him how he could help her later, so probably an example of extraverted Feeling—Connecting with others. However, this is only an impression based on a very small sample of behavior so take it with a grain of salt. What seemed clear was an In-Charge Interaction Style—very focused on getting an achievable result telling her dad to just drive. I think these differences show up very early in life and it is wonderful to have an example like this.

I have six grandchildren and in two of them we observed Directing language very early on. They seem to have a time and task orientation. One granddaughter would say ‘Done!’ very definitively when we were doing something—usually before I thought we were done. I’ve observed the use of Informing language in the other grandchildren. Luckily their parents know about these communication differences and don’t send them negative messages about how they should be different than they are. I do see them coaching them sometimes to use more direct language when they specifically want to direct actions, for example, instead of saying “I’m thirsty.” say “Could I have some milk?”

I’m so thankful to have all these lenses to help me appreciate the individuality of my family and the people I work with and work for.

*Note that I used the term ‘temperament’ and by this I mean classical temperament, not Keirsey’s temperament. Classical temperament in the psychological literature matches what I’ve called Interaction Styles. It is content free and is the ‘how’ or style of our behavior. I think what Keirsey referred to early on was more than classical temperament, so I’m calling that lens Essential Motivators now. Still it all refers to something that is there from the beginning and endures as a way we are organized throughout our lives. Even as we adapt and grow, we have that constant core that needs to be nurtured.

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