Archive for April, 2013

The Gift of Listening

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Once, I made two lists.  On the first list, I put the names of the people in my life that I had largely positive feelings about.  On the second, I put the names of the people that I had reservations about, the relationships that I might label problematic.  We called each other friends, but after I’d been with them, I didn’t feel enriched.

The PEOPLE Process  Training Manual & Participant Package

The PEOPLE Process
Training Manual & Participant Package

When I looked at the difference between the two lists, one thing stood out.  The people on the first list were good listeners, and the people on the second were not. The people on the first list always made me feel like a connection had been made between us, but the people on the second made me feel like a connection had been faked.  The people on the first list made me feel like I was accompanied on this journey of life, the people on the second made me feel like I was alone.

That’s when I realized how important it is to be a good listener to other people.  It’s not just a nice thing to do, or good manners.  Good listening has an existential importance.  It’s the only thing that helps us relieve the loneliness of the human condition.

For something that is so important, it’s amazing how little it’s talked about. It’s rarely taught in our families, schools, workplaces or churches.  There isn’t even a cultural cliche about good listening, like:   A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Most people who have become good listeners learned it in some kind of self-help or psychological setting, and they were usually surprised to learn its importance.  It hasn’t spread to the overall culture.

It’s not even a skill of certain personality types.  Some people may appear to be good listeners because their type makes them less talkative or less opinionated or more sensitive to others, but they will admit that if you listen in on their thoughts, they are often not fully tuned into the other person.  To be genuinely paying attention to another person that is a learned skill, and one that takes constant practice.  It’s not something we’re born with.

This is the first in a series.  In the following blog updates, we asked people of all the types,  Who are the best and worst listeners in your life, and why? From that we gleaned some good, practical dos and don’ts on listening.  In the next blog update, we’re going to look at how our type influences our listening.

You’ll probably find a lot of the people you know in these pages, including the person you thought you knew the best yourself. However, if you decide to begin asking yourself the question:  Am I really listening?  you’ll find that you didn’t really know yourself, or anyone else, before that.

(By Susan Scanlon, The TYPE Reporter, Issue Number 97)

How Do You Take Action? – Judging or Perceiving?

Friday, April 5th, 2013

The fourth and final dimension of behavior in psychological type theory is how we prefer to take action. Judging types represent approximately 60% and Perceiving types about 40% of the U.S. population.

The PEOPLE Process Type Wheel

The PEOPLE Process Type Wheel

Judging and Perceiving represent the two very different ways that people like to organize their world and live their lives. In this context, the term Judging does not mean a person that is judgmental and the term Perceiving does not mean that a person is perceptive. These are the terms assigned to this dimension of behavior. Perceiving refers to one’s innate drive to keep things open, to keep gathering information and Judging refers to a desire to come to conclusion and make a decision. People with a Judging preference feel tension until an issue is decided and people with a Perceiving preference feel tension if pushed to make a decision too quickly. The more important the decision is, the stronger the need to resolve the issue quickly for a person with Judging preference.

Judging and Perceiving have a lot to do with the way we like to run our everyday lives and the greatest potential for conflict exists between couples with this dimension. This is the only dimension that is different between me and my husband. Roy, INTP, and I, INTJ, experienced a lot of confusion, tension and conflict around this fourth dimension of taking action. We had been married just a few years when we were introduced to psychological type and were immediately riveted by the explanation in type theory of why we were experiencing this tension. We could be discussing something and I’d head for the phone to take action. This completely unnerved him because of his need to investigate further, look for more information and check things out.

Another part of the differences in this dimension is Judging people want their living area organized and feel distracted living amid clutter, while Perceiving people tend to have a more casual attitude and often leave projects unfinished. My INTP partner liked to file papers in stacks on the office floor and I preferred to file paperwork feeling everything should be put in its place. Once we found out about our preference for Judging and Perceiving in this Action dimension, we understood what was causing the tension and were able to “stretch ourselves” so that we could include each other’s “comfort zone” in our expectations.

Judgers are planners and like to be prepared. They expect a set plan to be followed and often have difficulty shifting gears when the plan unexpectedly changes. By contrast, Perceivers are hesitant to commit themselves for fear that if they do, they may miss some great opportunity that will come along later. Perceivers act spontaneously and are flexible in adjusting to changes.

In the area of handling responsibilities, Judging people like to complete projects ahead of a deadline and it’s very hard for Judgers to relax and enjoy themselves when they haven?t finished something. Perceivers are just the opposite, preferring to relax and take advantage of some unexpected opportunity because there’s always more time.

Because Judgers have such a need for closure, they tend to make a lot of declarative statements and state their strong opinions freely. Perceivers ask a lot of questions and are more inquisitive. This can be a source of irritation between couples and business associates. Perceivers often feel that Judgers shut down discussions too quickly, and oversimplify. Judgers sometimes find the endless questions from Perceivers to be redundant and annoying.

Judgers are more comfortable with the notion of rules and place high importance on following them, while Perceivers view rules as unwanted restrictions on their freedom and their ability to be spontaneous. Judgers are more comfortable with authority while Perceivers are more naturally inclined to rebel against or question authority.

When you factor in knowledge of personality type into how you take action, it becomes clear that all of us need each other for the wealth of valuable contributions we offer in our business endeavors, family relationships and friendships. In fact, our differences just make us that much more valuable for the point of view and experience we are able to provide one another.

There are four behavior dimensions in personality type: how our Energy is focused, how we gather Information, how we make Decisions, and how we take Action. Action is the fourth dimension and all four are equally important. Having knowledge and understanding of our preferences in each of the four dimensions of our associates and loved ones can profoundly affect the quality of our life and relationships.