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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

The Z Problem Solving Model
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TAGS: Choices, Communication, Decision Making, Problem Solving

Family Holidays in the Time of COVID: Will We Celebrate Together?

Mollie Allen, M.Ed.
MOLLIE ALLEN, M.ED., is a certified coach, teacher and consultant working with groups and individuals. With undergraduate degrees in Child Development and Special Education and a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision she worked in schools and in private practice with students of all ages and levels for 25 years.
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Knowing about the MBTI® or MMTIC® assessments and personality type is helpful in many aspects of life, but it hasn't made me a Superwoman. There's no cape or capital S to help when there's a problem. There is a Z though: the Zig Zag, or Z problem-solving model. Talk about handy! Because right now holidays are coming, COVID is hovering, and like everyone else my family wants to know: can we have holidays together this year? 

I'm not giving information that replaces CDC and state agencies publications. But I hope to show how using the Zig Zag process, which describes how we can move from the perception stages of Sensing and Intuition, to the decision stages of Thinking and Feeling. This process can guide our ability to make good decisions. 

My family has had two online discussions about getting together with about a week in between. Incorporating "wait time" brought up more questions and topics. Though we've covered what we know about new ways of doing things and we established some decision points, we remain in the perception stage. New considerations are coming in and we are looking at alternatives for the day but no final decision has been made. 

Here's a sampling of what we discussed. When the decision-making process follows these steps the group considers all aspects before coming to a conclusion. I'm sure many of these topics are familiar to you!

SENSING: What do we know?  What do we need to know?

  • Remember safety protocols
  • Research and verify details of mask safety, hand sanitizers, tests, and air purifiers
  • Observe comfort level of sharing space with other COVID pods
  • List menu and meal-time options.

Information: accurate, detailed, practical

Mindset: Identify and face facts; avoid sentimentality

Stay on track: Avoid talking about past mistakes if nothing's been learned; avoid overwhelming the group with endless details.

INTUITION: What else should we consider? What don't we know?

  • Brainstorm safe activities if gathering
  • Explore new ways to celebrate if staying home 

Information: hypothetical, imaginative, possible

Mindset: Look for things not done before; assume there are other, perhaps better ways to do things.

Stay on track: Avoid wandering into larger discussions. Stay grounded in facts; avoid getting hooked by doomsday.

THINKING: Is this reasonable? Use rational, logical criteria to decide.

  • Select masks, hand sanitizers, tests, and air purifiers based on objective data
  • Use data to plan time between testing, getting results, and meeting
  • Choose location based on recommended six-foot distancing, number of people, and room dimensions
  • Organize seating allowing for at least six-foot separation between pods

Information: Evaluations and conclusions based on objective information.

Mindset: Determine a path forward based on objective cause and effect; include pleasant and unpleasant outcomes. 

Stay on track: Acknowledge that personal concerns are valid; include them in problem solving. Do not dismiss or appear to dismiss them. Encourage full participation by avoiding personal criticism, sarcasm, and negative humor.

FEELING: How will this impact others?

  • Weigh safety and inconvenience vs. being together
  • Decide attendance based on comfort with agreed upon health protocols and with merging COVID pods
  • Select preferred meal option
  • Choose favorite dessert 

Information: Evaluations and conclusions based on convictions and concerns. 

Mindset: Determine a path forward based on personal cause and effect. Weigh what each person cares about. Emphasize long-term rather than short-term outcomes. 

Stay on track: Accept unappealing facts. Accept that it may not be possible to make a decision that accommodates everyone and that we may not meet at all. 

So far, we are relying on what we know. I'm hoping everyone will get the appropriate tests and use the proper guidelines. We agreed on protocols and have ideas for possible meal preferences and activities. We've discussed BYO meals in the garage and roasting marshmallows outside over a fire. 

One activity has us in cars, organized by households completing a town-wide scavenger hunt. Our town offers great trivia like: what's the name of the horse who is buried in the town cemetery? (Yes, really!) How fun is that!? Our back-up plans include Zoom meals and online games and tournaments. This year, like everybody else, we hope to be together, even if we're together while actually being apart.



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Framing Your Brainstorming:
Type Tip #6

You know the scenario - you are coming up with ideas fast and furious. If you want others to follow your way of expressing your thoughts, put a frame around them that explains how others should listen. For example, if you are brainstorming ideas you may say, "I am playing with possible ideas but have not selected any one." Now the listener knows these are not final choices but possible choices. This allows the young listener to better sort the information being shared.


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