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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

21 Results tagged "Communication"

Preparing for the 21st Century
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TAGS: Careers, Communication, Self-Management, Teenagers

Preparing for the 21st Century

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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When families are first introduced to type the excitement is mainly about knowing the child's preferences and how to use that knowledge to make family life better and the child more successful in life.  It is all about the child recognizing the specialty of their personality type and helping them develop that to its fullest potential.

In his new book, Range (published May 2019), author David Epstein asserts it will be the generalist who is better prepared for the world than the specialist.  The book description states it is "the ground-breaking and exhilarating exploration into how to succeed in the 21st Century."  How do we reconcile wanting our children to become the best they can be at their type (specialist) with the call for a generalist approach?  There is a way.

In his book Epstein discusses well-rounded success and posits that having diverse experiences is best for success.  You do more than just expose your children to options.  You discuss these and reflect on that experience.  He terms it self-regulatory learning.  You "expose broadly and reflect on that experience."  It sounds like a good rule to follow but how do I follow that and still respect my child's individuality?  Here is one option.

Knowing about type differences and validating the worth of those differences can be done through our daily language with children by verbalizing opposite choices.  "Some children like to get their work done first and then play.  Others like to play while they work.  Both are fine.  One way may work better for you.  The other works better for someone else.  The key is to know which is your best way and to get the job done.  Everyone has to get the job done." (An example of the Judging-Perceiving difference.)

Another example might be to say, "Some children like to lead by being the person on the stage or in front and others like to lead by being the ideas behind the scene that set the stage for the work to follow.  Both are valuable.  Find your way but know the other way may be better for someone else." (An Extraversion-Introversion difference.)

"Some work better with clear and precise directions while others work better with more open-ended kinds of tasks" (a Sensing-Intuition difference).  

"Some give direct and maybe critical feedback they believe will help the project succeed better while others solicit the input of others and focus on a collaborative approach to project generation" (a Thinking-Feeling difference).  

Adding the vocabulary of difference to your language with your children engenders a greater awareness of options that Epstein suggests will be necessary for success in the next century.

When do I go for diversity of experiences and when do I focus on my child's individual type?  My suggestion is this:  When life is calm encourage your children to try activities outside of their natural preferences "just for the experience."  After trying something once they can evaluate whether they want to repeat the experience of not.  When a child is stressed or tense because of events in his/her life use what you know about type to respond in the way that works best for that type.

An introverted child may not want to "talk" when they are upset but really appreciate a hug and your company.  An extraverted child might say many things they wish they could take back when upset, but just listen without judgment.  Focus only on the problem that is current.  Help them experience the breadth of options that Epstein proposes when they have their energy free for exploration but when their energy is limited because it is being drained by a life issue, deliver assistance in a way that matches their type.  That is not a time for stretching to new ways.

Epstein also suggested that the individual "reflect on their experiences."  Instead of just admiring what a child does, a type approach would suggest talking with them about what makes a project fun and what is required to complete the project - the work!   An excellent model for this technique is the Z-approach to decision making, where we look at the experience from a Sensing, Intuitive, Thinking and Feeling perspective.

Type does not operate in a vacuum.  The concepts can blend with other ideas offered for helping children be prepared for a future with challenges that will be unique for their generation.  It is the blend of type awareness (and use) with the other good ideas that will really prepare our children to succeed in the 21st century.



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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.




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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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.





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.




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