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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

15 Results tagged "-Decision-Making"

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.



What's next after high school?
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TAGS: Careers, Choices, College, Decision Making, Teenagers

Personality Type and What’s Next After High School?

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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It's that time of year, and in spite of the pandemic, planning for next year is under way. After sitting with counselors, mentors, and parents, exploring all sorts of colleges, universities, gap-year options or entering the military service, some high school seniors are beginning to make decisions. Some are looking at careers and occupations, others have toured institutions on-line and (maybe) in person. They have accumulated a lot of personal information. They've invested in a good deal of self-searching about the future. 

That search for clarity brings up the idea of preferences and personality type. How can we use results from the MBTI or MMTIC type assessments to help shape the post-high school study and career search? 

Not long after my own four children completed various work and college paths, I began working with high school students as they embarked on the post-high school quest. One reason I took the work is that many of my adult clients remarked that if they had experienced an MBTI feedback session earlier, their lives may have been different. Another reason: some parents experience the on-going, months-long effort as very challenging. Some are ready to have the process roll along while they contribute from the sidelines when appropriate. 

I've learned over the years that although there's not a clear dotted line leading from a particular type to a particular course of study, college, or career, students discovering their type with a mentor can gain valuable insight about their choices. At a minimum, as part of a complete profile, MBTI or MMTIC results can begin to reveal subtle differences between students who, on the page, look pretty similar. 

Here's a recap of two students who had similar grades, GPAs and progress through high school. Along the way, both enjoyed math and were competent at it all the way through calculus. Both were members of the drama club for a number of years, one as stage manager the other in lighting. In extracurricular clubs and sports, they were chosen as leaders by their peers. By the time senior year arrived both were looking at electrical engineering. 

One claimed INFP preferences, the other ISTJ. Knowing about personality type was helpful during discussing and selecting a final college. We dug into what kept them engaged in electives and extracurricular activities. The ISTJ student imagined continuing tech projects while the INFJ was curious about pottery, drumming and off-campus offerings such as art and theater. For the latter in particular, it made sense to at look at what universities, campus-sharing colleges, and metropolitan settings might provide.

However, there's a richer and much more beneficial use of the MBTI or MMTIC experience in the post-high school search. It goes "beyond the code." Beginning before the fall of senior year, we can blend the feedback session with the problem-solving model and offer a repeatable process for future decisions and career searches. This process provides structure for meaningful conversations as the progression goes back and forth between seeking and deciding.

The perception phase of a feedback session opens a discussion about learning habits vs. cognitive habits. It widens the search to additional career fields and work environments. It invites questions about hopes and dreams. It helps hold off hasty decisions. The judgement phase provides space to examine academic and life values and for-profit and non-profit worlds. It allows for discussion about the "why's" behind extracurricular likes or dislikes. The structure offers opportunities to explore inner and outer influences. Type processes becomes active, and they don't stand alone.

So yes, knowing about personality type can be helpful as part of the post-high school search — as long as it's not used stringently or in a limiting way such as "matching" a certain type to a particular institution, or field of study, or occupation. In my mind, high school students (and perhaps all of us) get the most from learning about personality preferences if we remember to "hold type lightly." Personality type is only one part of any endeavor — it's not the only thing.



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TAGS: Communication, Decision Making, Differences, Problem Solving

Calling All Members to a Family Meeting!

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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Recently, there's been a family dealing with change in the news - perhaps you heard -  Prince Harry and Meghan want a different sort of life. They had meetings with the Queen and others because everyone will be affected.

Like other family changes, such as a student returning home after leaving college, or a family having to move to a new community, it's not an emergency sort of situation, and there may be no need for a rapid response. It's critical in a different way; there are many things to discuss, many people will be involved, everyone will have to adjust, and the resolution won't happen overnight. Everyone needs to be heard, so a family meeting is the way to go.

Family meetings are not new and it's easy to find tips and how-to's. You'll find agendas, tips for selecting a leader, using "I messages," and suggestions on how to brainstorm. Often members are reminded to take turns while speaking. A missing component though, is how to approach the problem while keeping everyone involved and "on the same page."

If I had the opportunity to sneak something helpful into that meeting at the palace it would be the extended version of the Z model. This adds Extraversion - Introversion and Judging - Perceiving to the four cognitive functions of Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling.

To start, the royal (or not so royal) parents would spend alone time (introversion) identifying their individual observations, reactions, concerns, and suggestions. They would aim to come up with a shared broad statement alluding to the function-based discussions to come. It could go something like this:

"We have a family situation we haven't dealt with before. As we readjust, we hope we can work together to get the necessary facts as we know them (Sensing), exchange our hopes and wishes for the future (Intuition), analyze the causes and outcomes of how we got here (Thinking) and be open about what we're each concerned about most and why (Feeling)."

Next, they would meet for a kickoff session (maybe with popcorn or hot chocolate) to share their statement aloud (extraversion). Then, while everyone listens, each person would express their concerns and suggestions - not to discuss, decide or criticize - just tell. Next, even more tightly focused meetings would be arranged along with "between meeting alone time" (introversion) as part of the process.

We assume that complicated situations will take more sessions and more time to work through. Each discussion is followed by a pause (a couple of hours to a day). This allows each person to process their ideas and questions.  Judging and Perceiving also play a part. Initial decisions are labeled as "under consideration" until everyone has additional introversion time.

Once decisions are made, there's a reminder: if new information comes up, the decision is reviewed again. With these mindsets, there will be a lot of processing time and a lot of meetings! And patience will be called on - a lot!

Ideally, the Z model is used as a framework to guide the discussion and reflection sessions.
  • Sensing identifies the problem with a realistic, unsentimental eye and remembers known solutions.
  • Intuition flattens assumptions and encourages new solutions and new ways of seeing the problem.
  • Thinking fully analyzes the nonpersonal cause and effect and consequences without avoiding unpleasant, difficult topics.
  • Feeling is where you get in touch what really matters to you in the long term and what the outcomes may be for everyone involved.

It's not necessary to go in order though it is helpful to stay with one cognitive function at a time.

The whole process may seem lengthy or awkward at first and does take time to practice. But it can really pay off when crowns are askew, when a slipper is lost, when a festival gets out of control, or the family coach is off in a ditch. There's no way to assure the Z model will bring peace to the kingdom but my experience says there will be more quiet satisfaction in at least a few castles.


PeopleStripes.org article
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TAGS: Choices, Communication, Compromise, Decision Making, Differences, Self-Management, Teenagers

Motivation Matters: Give a Moose a Muffin

Yvonne Nelson-Reid, B.Ed., M.A.
YVONNE NELSON-REID, B.Ed., M.A., is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively.
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Summer is over and as we head into fall and a busy school season, balancing schedules can be a challenge. While trying to adjust schedules, keep in mind personality differences. What might be thrilling for some of your kids may be terrifying for others and exhausting for you, especially if they don't drive yet.

Motivation matters. It is the core of our personality that motivates us, and this shines through in several different ways depending upon our personality type.

Our 16-year-old daughter (ENFJ) has always been eager to spend time with friends and engage in many activities. With four other children, it wasn't always possible to meet her needs, and although we could tell she would get disappointed, she rarely complained because maintaining harmony and avoiding conflict is key to who she is as a person.

Driving now, with her own car, her new-found freedom and desire to please everyone has ramped up her social life. This is where "give a moose a muffin" comes into play. We are originally from Canada and one of our favorite children's books goes by this title. Essentially, the premise is that if you let the moose do one thing, it will ask to do another, and another, and another... continuing in this way.

You might have guessed what our daughter's nickname is, yes, it's Moose! "Mom can I pick up my friend and go for ice cream?" "Mom, can we now go to her place to hang out and do homework?" "Mom, is it okay if we see a movie?" On and on and on... it never seems to end.

For her, motivation is about being with people, encouraging and supporting them, and making them happy, at times at the expense of her own needs. We quickly discovered that limits need to be placed, and she thanks us for setting them. I think even for her, knowing when to stop is challenging. We got back from a trip to Canada recently and within a minute, "Moose" was out the door. Enthusiastic and social, she brightens the life of those around her. Limits help her to keep on shining.

Speaking of motivation, here is another example. Our 18-year-old daughter (INTJ) is motivated by ideas, complex inner pictures of the present and the future, all supported by logic to help organize her external world. For her, it is about coming up with an idea, then implementing it.

When motivated she makes things happen. This past summer, while looking into possible jobs, we suggested working in a restaurant or fast food place because they often hire students over the summer. She wanted nothing to do with it. Teaching and working with special needs children is her dream job, and this fall as a college freshman she hopes to fulfill this dream.

In her mind, it only made sense that she should care for a child with special needs over the summer. To her credit, she did it! All on her own! Reaching out to a teacher she worked with during her senior year internship in a special needs class, she secured a job helping a family over the summer. She also volunteered for summer camps with special needs children. To top it off, these summer positions have led her into part-time work this fall as she begins her studies in this area.

When she wants to make something happen, she can, regardless of what we might have to say. Her motivation led her to a summer job she truly enjoyed, and now part-time employment while in college. Let me just say, if what we want her to do does not appeal to her vision, and if we can't back it with logic, no matter how hard we try, we can't make her do anything!

When motivated, we can do anything! What motivates us is often linked to our personality type.




College Search Adventure
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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, Listening, College, Communication, Parenting, Teenagers

The College Search Adventure

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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The college selection process can be a trying, anxiety making, argumentative experience, or a time for healthy introspection, self-learning and a step toward the passage to adulthood.

In my case, the college selection season was long. As a parent of four it lasted nearly eight years. The experience was a learning opportunity for me and my children as we moved to a new stage of family life.  Before it was complete, I was offering these students ideas on how to choose a college that fit their self-image in the moment and in the possible future.

My first lesson was discovering the number of ways a student could complete college. I went to a panel of post-high school students called "What Comes After High School." One student had gone into the service; another had a "gap year," volunteering while living at home; another went to a community technical college; one went the traditional route; and another was alternating a year at college with hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail.

That panel was helpful because it changed my parental expectations of the college experience, and encouraged a broad look of what that might be like. But the panel didn't get into the nuts and bolts of the actual process of the college search and associated decision making.


To me and my friends, the senior year college search seemed like a massive capstone project, with each student approaching it more or less the same way they took on projects from third grade on. When we talked it was often about the process itself, how it could be distracting and disruptive because it went on so long, how there were so many ways to do it and how ownership was murky. Plus, it seemed, beneath the paperwork and timelines, something was lost. The examination of and attention to what mattered to others outweighed what mattered to students. Other than the essay and a high school resume there was little to suggest a high school junior or senior would benefit from devoting some time to gaining self-knowledge.

By the time I had my stories about the college search experience to tell other parents, I was wondering how to make it an opportunity for students to learn about themselves and their decision-making habits. I offered services to family and friends ("Thank goodness," a friend said. "I don't have to watch or ask, and I still know things are getting done.")

With a hands-off but supportive attitude, I offered opportunities to look at issues not typically considered by juniors and seniors on the "find a college mission." With me they devoted time to learning about their personality and mindset, and how these factors influence their decision-making process.

They investigated the overlap of academic values and learning styles. They looked at their skills, their strengths and weaknesses, and what they liked and disliked. They used the Z decision making model and they went off to campus visits with purposeful questions. When it came time to wondering if a college "matched" there was more to consider than just GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities.

Over the years, I learned that personality type is not the only factor to consider when selecting a college. In fact, I would caution against operating as if a certain personality will do better in college X than college Y. I believe the more we know about ourselves and our decision-making process, the better our decisions will be, and we should explore all avenues of self-knowledge.

When I heard about the most recent college admission scandals, I was a bit surprised but not shocked. Some elements of the process have become so over emphasized. The student's personal experience is losing its centrality.

The college quest is a unique time and opportunity for students and parents.  It is a threshold of newness in the family as someone steps into adulthood. There are ways for students and parents to honor this passage without letting it become more than what it is: an opportunity to dive into the world and find our place in it.





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