Everyone has a personal style of being in the world and a personal style for communicating and learning. From a solutions focused perspective in therapy, in order to help another I have to figure out those styles and match them in how I communicate and provide assistance toward solutions. This takes a combination of focused listening skills, intuition, quick thinking, and flexibility.
Using mindfulness when approaching interactions allows for more connecting space.
Each person relates on four intersecting levels. They are a continua of abstract to concrete; sensing to intuitive; thinking to feeling; planned to spontaneous. Each end of these poles has trouble understanding or consolidating information from the other extreme end.
So individuals who tend to perceive the world in a more abstract fashion have difficulty with individuals who are concrete. This is the same for individuals who tend to gather information in a sensing, fact observational (left-brained) way versus those who tend to gather information in a more intuitive fashion (right-brained).
The style in which one expresses information can also create misunderstanding if too far apart on the continuum of thinking and feeling. Here the issue is more of a proactive versus a reactive perspective, using objective versus subjective information to both make decisions and express those decisions.
The final level of interaction has to do with planning and spontaneity. This is somewhat obvious, if a person values planning then spontaneity is frustrating to them and visa versa.
For effective communication to occur one needs to assess his own position as well as that of the other on these four continua. Some careers value different aspects of these four groups. Most people are on a continuum of thinking and communicating skills from concrete to capacity to abstract. Engineers tend to be at the concrete end of the continuum and artists tend to be at the abstracting end. Most of us live somewhere in the middle.
This information is important in parenting especially if you and your child are at different places on a continuum.
Developmental stages can at times lead to a more concrete style of thinking and processing information for children. But it is also a function of a child’s right-brained-ness or left-brained-ness. Right-brained individuals are more on the abstracting end and left-brained people are more on the concrete end.
The more diverse or greater the crevasse between people, the less able they are to understand each other. And a misunderstanding between them, can feel like an assault to a person’s character rather than a re-direction or teaching when it is related to a difference in information interpretation and consolidation style.
An example of this is the way in which a very left-brained person might interpret the information gathering style of a right-brained person; she might be seen as flighty or unable to substantiate her perceptions because they come from a more intuitive perspective.
A person who tended to be more feeling in their style of expressing information would be seen as subjective and not having an objective reason to feel the way they do.
For a child who tended toward this style of relating, she might have difficulty learning from a teacher she interpreted as not liking her, because the teacher might be more objective and less touchy feely and this might result in the child feeling like the teacher doesn’t like her. A child who was more on the feeling aspect of the continuum might then have more difficulty learning from that teacher.
The work in parenting is to help the child manage her emotions and feelings and increase her understanding of her personal style in relating and interacting in the world. This would need to be accomplished without deflating the child’s personal style but by developing the other aspect of the continuum.
The best way to do this is to help the child investigate whence their feelings come and to evaluate the objective aspect of their feelings. This helps the child develop her thinking skills related to her feelings. And develops both aspects of the continuum of thinking and feeling as well as both aspects of the sensing and intuition continuum.
Children who have strong intuition will often have information they have gathered from an observation perspective of subtle changes in behavior or facial cues from the other person whom they feel doesn’t like them. So it might look like they are being subjective in their decision-making rather than objective, but there is an objective – observation of real information – in their decision-making process. In these instances it is then useful to help them focus on learning for their own benefit rather than to appease or make happy their teacher – as they may be correct in their sense that the teacher doesn’t like them.
Individuals who have developed both their right-brained and left-brained style of gathering and expressing information are the most flexible and generally perceived of as affable, well-liked, and quite bright.
Myers and Briggs developed a test for preferred style of being in the world from Carl Jung’s work on this subject. It has been used as a psychological test to help individuals understand their preferred style for years. It is also used in business consultation to help build teams.
I prefer a book by Kiersey-Bates, called Please Understand Me, that is very comparable to the Myers-Briggs test. The basic information is useful to help build teams but I tend to use it in couples counseling and parenting to help individuals see where they are mis-communicating and help develop an overall ability on both aspects of the four continua.
When interacting with someone you love, a team partner, or a child, it is useful to do some investigation about how each one of you got to specific information when you find you are in disagreement – it may be that you are perceiving different information or interpreting that information differently and you may be able to find agreement if you increase your understanding of each other.
This leads to paradigm shifting and an increase in one’s mindfulness in interaction.
See you tomorrow.