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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

12 Results tagged "Choices"

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: 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.




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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?



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TAGS: Guiding, Boundaries, Choices, Communication, Mothering Styles, Parenting, Problem Solving, Teenagers

Helicopters and Snowplows

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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A recent article referenced a new style of parenting called "Snowplow Parenting." 

We know that Helicopter parents hover near their children to be part of every moment of the child's life.  They are there "just in case" the child needs them.  Snowplow parents predict which obstacles will be in their child's way and remove them so the child is able to proceed successfully - at least that is the hope.  

Every parent adopts a style they believe is in the best interests of their child.  Parents everywhere want their children to be happy, successful, and confident.  As far as I can tell Snowplow parenting does everything to undermine confidence.  Handling their own problems reinforces confidence in the child's own abilities.  Instead of teaching the child how to manage their life needs, the snowplow style of parenting sends the message that the child is not capable and needs the parent to prepare the way for them.

When a child has no opportunity to manage their world, they become less competent to manage life on their own.  A strong ego expressed as confidence comes from surviving faults and solving problems. 

What constitutes a problem can be very different for the various personality types, and each type has a certain set of skills to learn in order to be successful in life.  Everyone is born with strengths and everyone is born with stretches.  These are not the same for all the personality types.  So, what works for one child in the family may not work equally well with another child in that family.

  • Sensing types enjoy gathering information. That part is easy. Their challenge is to pull the information together into patterns and innovative ideas.
  • Intuitive types enjoy generating innovative and unique projects or contributions.  Their stretch is completing all the parts. They need more assistance during the work or implementation phase rather than during the design phase.
  • Feeling types start life trusting with a naïve innocence that makes them vulnerable to be fooled by false relationships. Their stretch is to learn to discern and be alert to the disingenuous.
  • Thinking types enter life independent. Initiating on their own is a strength. Yet they want to be competent at everything and struggle with accepting and enduring the frustration of failure.

A Snowplow parent removes all the obstacles.  If that happens, the Thinking child will not learn to cope with incompetent moments, the Feeling child will not learn the signs that a person is not to be trusted, the Intuitive child will not learn to pace their energy to keep working when things become boring, and the Sensing child will not learn how to organize all that they know so they can use the knowledge in new and productive ways.  The child develops from doing the work.  Being directed on what to do is not the same as solving the problem and coping with the consequences.

Resilience is a characteristic most parents want to see in their children.  This skill builds over time and is more securely established when experiencing many little blocks of problem solving rather than when the first real challenge happens at age 20.  

So, parents, when you are tempted to solve a problem for your young child (e.g. work the system to be sure your child is "on the team" or "in the play") you may be working against your goal: a competent individual.  Celebrate their achievements but also celebrate their handling of the bumps along the way.  These may have a larger impact on the child's character development and resiliency than any of the successes.


Guide your child rather than direct your child.  Give options and examples but allow the child to make the decision.  Teach them how to cope with the consequences if their choice does not work as expected.  The developmental goal is to teach children HOW to decide by looking at the issue from multiple perspectives, using Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling rather than telling them WHAT to decide. (See the article on using the Z-model of decision-making.)

As the parent, when your child fails or has a problem (and they all will) you may need to decide what you will do to hold back and allow their learning process to occur.  

The hardest part of parenting is watching our child be in pain, but a very joyful part of parenting is watching them handle their pain and handle the problem.  We must give them the freedom to try.  Use the snowplows for snow.






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