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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

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PeopleStripes.org article
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TAGS: Relationships, Communication, Encouragement, Parenting

Meet, Greet, Repeat – Sweet!

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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Children need to feel welcomed when they enter a room.  When they are ignored, it can inadvertently send the signal that they are not welcome, or worse, not even noticed.  This applies at home as well as at school.

We greet with words, with actions, and with nonverbal body and eye language. Does anyone remember the clever hand greeting between Annie James and her chauffeur in the movie, The Parent Trap?  Her twin, Hallie Parker, had to learn it exactly if they were going to be able to pull off their charade and switch families.  If you notice they were smiling when they did the routine.

Some teachers have established innovative ways to greet the children in their classes.  Most importantly, they greet each child each day.

One teacher of adolescents created a unique handshake for each student.  He stands at the door of his class and greets each one in their special way.  Although I admire that style it is not one that would work for me.  I would spend more time worrying about my handshake memory than actually welcoming the student.


Some elementary teachers have created a visual they hang right at the doorway.  It includes a heart, a fist-bump, a handshake, and a high-five.  As each child enters, they touch the greeting they would like from the teacher that day.  I love that they get to choose and I like the variety of options.  You could add a wave, a bow/curtsy, or a mind-meld.  Any options are fine so long as the child is greeted every day in a way that matches their comfort level.

Why every day?  Have you ever seen a dog welcome their owner when they see them?  Some bark but mostly they swish their tail vigorously.  They are saying, "I am thrilled to see you."  Everyone knows what a wagging tail means.  Unfortunately, humans are not so obvious.  More than once I have heard a child say, "Ms. So and So does not like me.  She never even notices I am here."  Usually, the teacher is busy with some desk-task that had to be done and it had nothing to do with the child.  But that is the action the child perceives.  We have to become obvious.  We have to let them know they are welcome.

One year a teacher referred most of her class for behavior assessments because the children's behavior was so disrespectful and disruptive.  We asked her to spend two weeks greeting each child as they entered the room and to smile while doing it.  Then we would look at the list.  Amazingly (to her) the number went from a majority of students to one or two.  Her lack of connecting with the children created an adversarial learning environment.  By greeting them and connecting with them the whole dynamic changed.
 
The "Meet and Greet" is not just for school.  Home needs it, too.  Often parents are doing something and yell, "Is that you? Hi."  That is not the same as Meet and Greet.  The parent needs to stop what they are doing for the moment, face the child, and greet them any way that works. Don't say, "Give mom/dad a kiss or hug."  That is the child greeting you.  Say, "Let me hug, high-five or whatever you.  I am so glad to see you again." The whole process takes 3-5 seconds but makes a world of difference.

It works with a spouse or partner, too.  No matter what was happening when my husband came home I would greet him in the same spot for a hug and a kiss.  Some days we were not really talking to each other because we were fussing about an issue, but we never stopped our greetings.   The greeting confirmed the relationship even though there were issues to be resolved.

As I said, humans need to be obvious. They also need to be consistent.  Meet, greet, and repeat daily and you'll reap the benefits of a well-grounded relationship that can withstand the pressures of learning difficulties, anger, and frustrations that seep into most of our lives.

Don't forget to smile.




Failure might be an option
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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Problem Solving, Self-awareness, Teenagers

Failure is not an option - or is it?

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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In the movie Apollo 13, when the NASA team on earth was trying to determine a way to get the astronauts home, the team leader says to the group, "Failure is not an option." It sounds good in the movie but let's see how that plays out in real life. Here are some examples from Wanderlust Worker:

  1. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt Disney "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
  2. Oprah was declared "unfit for television" by a TV producer.
  3. J.K. Rowling had 12 publishers reject the Harry Potter manuscript.
  4. According to reports, Colonel Sanders had 1009 people reject him when he pitched his chicken recipe to restaurants.
  5. Michael Jordan failed to make the varsity basketball team.

The list goes on. The website lists 48 overall successful people who failed.

Michael Jordan said, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed." He was still inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Thomas Edison once told a reporter, "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." Failure can be part of the path to success.


With all that said the moment of failure feels miserable. Emotions are all over the place and the brain is not thinking at its best. We each need to have a regrouping strategy to get us through the immediate impact of the failure.

Those with a Feeling preference need reassurance that the failure will not impede the relationship. When someone with a Feeling preference feels like a failure it tends to be accompanied with another thought. They worry that they let someone down. "Mom wanted me to get that scholarship." "I thought I could do this for you but I can't. Now you don't believe in me." The younger they are the more convinced they are that a revealed flaw means others in their life may reject them.

For some people with the Feeling preference this translates into an intense pressure to always do things right. You can help: hug them. Acknowledge the failure is there but the connection with them is solid. Offer to support them if they decide it is something they can try again. Take a moment and have fun interacting with them. Your presence matters at this moment.

Thinking - Feeling

Those with a Thinking preference see failure as a personal flaw that threatens their competence. Even when they know they are still competent they fear others will think less of their skills. They don't mind doing things over if the situation or the problem with the task improves each time but, when the end is there and the problem is not solved, frustration sets in for the Thinking child.

A hug is not the right tool at this time for this child. Reflective listening and honest assessment help more. Acknowledge that losing or failing at a task is frustrating because you thought you could do it. Remind them that although this is a failure, failure is temporary. It only lasts until a new solution is found or the task is mastered. Make this an interim moment when possible. Suggest that once they get their energy back you will problem-solve with them if they are still interested. Take a break to get that energy back by doing something else that is fun, by watching a video, or by taking a nap. Let the brain get some rest before tackling what seems like an impossible task.

Some children fear failure so much they develop into "failure avoiders." This is a learned coping strategy and can be unlearned. These children either try the most difficult task (no one is expected to be able to do it) or the easiest task (anyone can do it). Instead of following their interests they follow the path of greatest or least resistance. This solves the problem for the moment but does not teach the child how to deal with failure. Research supports that the only thing that motivates a failure-avoider is success.

One young man was failing math. His last test grade was 29. Success in his family was defined as having a test grade that was higher than the previous test score. He bought into that plan and improved each time but was still failing by school standards. It took almost the entire school year, but he brought his grade up to a C on his final test. This can be an ST approach if the strategy for improvement works. For an NF child you will need to monitor and praise each gain and celebrate the progress.

All children fail sometimes. Emotionally it is exhausting to fail for all types. We need to help our children recognize that failure is temporary. The way to help the Feeling child is not the same as the way to help a Thinking child. In a person's life story if you want to know if they were a success or failure it will depend on what chapter of their life you are reading.




PeopleStripes.org article
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TAGS: Guiding, Listening, Relationships, Choices, Self-awareness, Self-Management, Teenagers

What do Game of Thrones and Type Have in Common?

Elizabeth Murphy, Ed.D.
ELIZABETH MURPHY, Ed.D., is a psychologist and type expert whose research focuses on verifying the development of normal personality differences according to the theory of psychological type. She works extensively with families and teams of people to improve communication and resolve relationship needs.
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In Season 2 Episode 7 of Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister asks Arya Stark, "Do you know what legacy means?" When she shakes her head no, he answers, "It's what you pass down to your children and your children's children. It's what remains of you when you're gone."

In the show they seek to leave a throne for their families. We don't need thrones today, but we do need to establish our legacies and that idea made me want to define the legacy of type. To unlock the legacy of type we need to remember the gifts of type.

Take a look at Jung's definitions of what type can do:

  • Show how multiple differences can co-exist to complement each other in interactions and in achievements
  • Allow individual development and competence as the person ages and uses the preferences
  • Encourage a respect for divergence in a culture that still supports a common value system
  • Respect the free will of the individual; people choose their behavior
  • Allow each person to use their natural energies when that is best and stretch to use their balanced energies when those are needed
  • Give a system for better understanding of self and others
  • Provide a process for self-management based on an appreciation and respect for differences in others

To establish legacies in Game of Thrones there are multiple wars, multiple schemes, and multiple killings. To establish the legacy of type within your family is not quite so extreme.

Ways to inculcate type into the fabric of the family life include:
  1. Our habits. How we organize our day, how we communicate, and how we problem-solve all serve as a model for children to imitate. They may not understand the full theory but they clearly can understand "Mommy's way" or "Daddy's way." The more we can explain our habits and the basis for them the easier it will be for children to choose which is their best way.
  2. Our words. How we express our ideas, our respect, or our disagreement will all be reflected in our legacy with our children. Adults have been heard to say, "I sound just like my Mom sounded. When did that happen?" It's part of that legacy.
  3. Our hopes. When we can acknowledge our incompetent moments and the times we were not at our best and seek a better way when something similar occurs we keep alive the idea that people are always evolving and learning, and that is OK. As Maya Angelou said, "You did the best you could when that was all you knew but when you knew better you did better."
Instead of allowing our legacy to emerge incidentally we can help it develop deliberately. By teaching our children about type differences we give them a tool for better development.

In the end the legacy of type awareness seems to fall into 3 broad areas.
  1. All types will feel appreciated and respected.
  2. All types will have a chance to develop.
  3. All types will find their best way to succeed.


Sagrada Familia CathedralIn a series of emails called "Secrets of the Sagrada Familia," Albert Grimaldo cites a story about the great architect Antoni Gaudi. The cathedral he designed is complicated and admired by many but criticized by some. He writes that Gaudi "all but flunked Barcelona Architecture School, often failing exams and assignments, or just barely managing to scrape a pass."

Yet, despite that, his teachers recognized there was something special about Gaudi. Elies Rogent, the director of the school famously said, "We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show." His cathedral is his legacy.

When we struggle to find our excellence through typical channels, personality type can be a tool to help us find the path that matches our natural talents and strengths. Legacies are handed down from generation to generation. Legacies last. What legacy will you leave your family?



The View From Here
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TAGS: Decision Making, Listening, Relationships, Siblings, Choices, Communication, Self-awareness, Teenagers

The View from Here

Emma Brandt
EMMA BRANDT is a senior in high school. She plans to attend a university, majoring in Psychology and Spanish. Emma began learning about personality type early in her high school career, and she engages daily in extensive conversations with her mom about people's personality types.
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My younger sister, Melanie, is almost the complete opposite of me. She can be very stubborn and often says things that seem harsh to others. For example, she tells me immediately if she doesn't like something I am wearing or doesn't agree with something I said:

"That's a really bad color on you."
"No, Louisville is NOT the capital of Kentucky; it's Frankfort. How could you not know that!?"
"Don't put your arm around me, people are watching
."
In other words, Melanie is painfully blunt and makes little to no effort to deliver her perspective nicely. Although we have always been close, her communication style used to make it difficult for me to connect with her. I never doubted her loyalty to me, but I would sometimes wonder if she actually liked me.

This all changed three years ago when my family moved from Illinois to Maryland. Shortly after we moved, my mom went through Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) certification training to grow her business. The MBTI assessment is based on a personality theory that defines 16 different patterns people show in the way they interact with the world, process information, and make decisions. These patterns are based on four personality preference pairs: Extraversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving.

My mom loves to process information out loud, so she constantly wanted to talk about what she was learning. I was typically the one in our family most interested in what she was explaining, so I asked questions to make sure I understood. She eventually taught me about personality type dynamics and how we all have a dominant personality type preference that is either extraverted or introverted.

Since we both processed the information differently, we were actually able to understand and apply these theories at a much deeper level by learning from each other. I realized how true it is that teaching someone else is the best way to learn.

Finding words to describe everything I already intuitively knew about myself felt incredibly freeing. I discovered that my preferences are ISFP: Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving. My dominant preference is called "Introverted Feeling," which simply means I tend to have a strong sense of who I am and how I feel.

I tend to be detail-oriented and thoughtful. Becoming more aware of these strengths as well as my blind spots has made me a better person. I am less judgmental. In the past I would get frustrated with myself for over-analyzing decisions or being sensitive and not being more outgoing. Now I appreciate these parts of myself and see how they are beneficial. I also see how other people's personalities and perspectives add value to the world, and I am not as easily offended or annoyed.

My new perspective has profoundly improved my relationship with my sister and helped me see her comments the way she sees them, as simply logical rather than mean. A person with her personality type preferences, ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging), sees the world objectively and tends to be less aware of how others may perceive their comments.

Understanding personality types has also deepened my relationships with others: my parents, my friends, my peers, and even people I don't know. I now view the world from a different perspective, and I am thankful to say, the view is richer and far more beautiful from here.



Anything you can do...
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TAGS: Listening, Relationships, Communication, Differences, Mothering Styles, Self-Management, Teenagers

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

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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Sharing a story about something in your life that you are really excited about sharing and having someone counter you with a better version of their own story can be incredibly annoying, and for some people even downright rude.

Many people see the world through their own trusted experience, and they connect with others through this personal experience. A friend of mine and her mother-in-law seem to be in constant conflict with one another. When my friend Sally talks about her day or an event that occurred with her mother-in-law, inevitably her mother-in-law has a similar story with a better twist or ending to share.

In this case, it seems that her mother-in-law is just trying to connect, to share how she understands Sally's experience because she has had one, too. Unfortunately, the continued one-upmanship causes Sally to shut down and avoid any conversation at all.



Where do they go from here? Communication is basically at a standstill. Understanding that we all take in information differently and connect with others in ways that feel comfortable to us might be a starting point for appreciating differences. In this case, I expressed to Sally, her mother-in-law might find this to be her way of relating to Sally, and it may not be intended as a personal insult at all.

It's tricky, especially in the situation of in-laws. Ideally, I'd suggest talking it out, but it is hard to know how she might take it. With my own daughter, who tends to relate through shared experiences as well, I find at times that I need to stop her and ask her to just let me finish my story before sharing hers.

I don't belittle her and I do let her know that I'm interested in her story, but would like to be able to finish sharing my experience first. Understanding that this is how she connects helps me to distance myself from the feeling that she is trying to be better than me, as I know this is not her intent.

Of course, there are people in this world who are trying to show off their "superiority," but that's for another story, and another forum. 




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