Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Archive for February, 2014

Why Do They Do That?

To better understand ourselves and others and increase our ability to be heard, I have chosen to post a sequence of four blogs to help us look more closely at what makes people tick. To recap briefly, the first blog was describing the difference between being an extrovert (getting ENERGY from the interaction with people) or an introvert (getting ENERGY by internally processing thoughts and ideas). The second blog was on the difference between the Sensing type (looking for cause and effect, past trends, data and the ‘what is’) OR the Intuitive type who seeks knowledge and complexity, models, theories not yet proven and who orient themselves to ‘what could be’). To read a more in depth explanation of these differences so far just go to the February archives on my website).

As we go deeper into the differences that help us understand ourselves better the third area is in how we see and process information. It is labeled the Thinking OR Feeling preference. If people favor the Thinking preference they see the world as an object and their thinking is quite clear …if A then B. Using sequential reasoning is essential to the way they process information and ideas. They have a tendency to be more critical in situations and less accepting of the needs or circumstances of others. They determine if they are successful by the number of clients they have, the raises they receive, in other words through more external, concrete evidence. The Thinking approach could best be summarized with the saying, ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ If discord with others is necessary to get from step A to B that’s just the way it is – a part of living or doing business.

On the other hand folks who favor the Feeling preference see the world as a subject rather than object. Their method of thinking about an issue would be …if A, then B, or maybe even E, M, or Q! In other words, they see many possibilities and options rather than a strictly linear approach. They are more laid back, accepting, and trusting and use their emotions to make decisions. They prefer to seek consensus with others – a sort of give and take when decisions are being made. Seeking consistency within their personal values when making a decision rather than using simple logic is very important to them. In addition to raises or advancements or additional number of clients, more importantly, they want to be told that they are a valued member of the team or family. Frequent verbal or written recognition for a job well done is very, very important to them. You will see people with this type prefer to ‘go with the flow’ rather than make waves. Discord is uncomfortable and they try, at all costs, to avoid it.

In my Sunday blog I will complete this short explanation of learning/living preferences with the last choice of two variables. In the meantime try to apply these six differences to yourself and others. Especially those who you feel are on a different wave length and you can’t seem to understand why they do the things they do. I’ll bet you will be surprised by what you discover. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers .. they are simply differences …in the way we process information and view the world. For the world to function we need to recognize that all types – all preferences are important and valuable. The trick is learning to recognize these differences and to learn how to present ideas or information in a way that will be welcomed and valued.

It boils down to energy. It takes more energy to push a wagon rather than pull it. Once you learn to recognize and value the differences in yourself and others, the smoother, more enjoyable the ride.

Have a great few days!

Learning to Better Communicate is Key!

Following up on the blog from last Wednesday in which I discussed the difference between an introvert or extrovert, the next area of differences in people’s thinking is how they choose to receive information. Knowing this difference and being able to identify it in yourself and others can result in truly being heard or quickly being dismissed. When we assume (you remember what that word can stand for) that everyone would naturally want to receive information the same way we do, it often results in frustration and feelings of not being heard or valued. That is why it is important to consider the next level of differences when trying to get your point across to others.

Some of us determine the value of information and listen more deeply when it is presented in a cause-and-effect approach, a more pragmatic, analytic approach. This has been labeled as a Sensing preference. Specific facts, are like magnets to people who prefer hearing new information discussed or presented in a clear, concise, practical manner and it gets their attention. They process the information in their brains and consider it carefully weighing the pros and cons. You can identify these folks by observing the questions they ask…do they consistently ask specific questions dealing with practical importance? For instance, how long do you want the paper to be, what specifics do I need to do to get an ‘A’ or how long do you expect this appliance to last? They are searching for the facts of the situation. When they are asked to demonstrate their creativity, they do so by ADAPTING strategies that are familiar to them to figure out the new or unknown circumstance.

The other mental preference is called Intuitive. These are people who seek knowledge and complexity of information. They are imaginative, intellectual and just seem to have a mental focus on the future. Do they want facts along the way? Of course, however they do not need to see them clearly laid out ahead of time to decide that ‘this is the way to go for now.’ Their choose to discover new ideas and make ‘intuitive leaps of understanding’ because it just feels right at the moment. This preference is so strong that it drives them to explore the ‘what if’ rather than stay in a more comfortable state of ‘what is.’ Being more abstract, they are drawn to goals, models and ideas that can frame a project but prefer to have others do the ‘plug and chug’ for completion of the process.

As you can see there are major differences between the Sensing and Intuitive preferences which can cause major challenges in communication. When you apply these differences in preferences to people who you rub shoulders with everyday it helps others to ‘hear’ what you are saying and take notice.

To recap from the blog on Wednesday, you are first and foremost either an introvert (getting energy from observing, learning and thinking about your inner world of thoughts and ideas) or an extrovert who receives energy from people and involvement in external events. Now it’s time to decide over the next few days whether you are a Sensing or Intuitive type of thinker to add to your tool chest of understanding self and others.

Just remember, we can and do go back and forth occasionally between these differences but as individuals we have strong preferences in communication just as we have a preference of being right or left handed.

Next Wednesday’s blog will take us further down the rabbit hole to determine if we prefer the Thinking or Feeling approach for communication. Stay tuned!

Have a great few days!

Why Do They Do That???

Have you ever thought to yourself when observing someone’s behavior or response to a situation, ‘What WERE they thinking?’ Well, truth be told, most all of us have had this thought from time to time. We further wonder to ourselves if it is just us that wonders about their mindset or do others share the concern. In reality, we process information in a way that is unique to ourselves and yet surprising similar when looked at it from a wider perspective. Since getting to the heart of understanding involves much more depth and time than one blog will allow, for the next few postings I will attempt to explain the layers of differences inherent in our mental processing and hopefully allow us to more fully engage in the critical aspect of communicating and understanding others who just seem…different…as compared to our own mindset.

To begin, each of us fall into a category of being either an extrovert or introvert. Simply put, an extrovert gets energy from people and involvement in external events while an introvert gets energy from learning, observing and thinking. The difference
is significant. For instance, when an extrovert attends a gathering they learn through communicating with others and love the experience of mingling with others. They become more energized and full of thoughts and ideas. They enjoy the interactions and actually collect information that excites and motivates them. They can leave a gathering with more information about individuals and their circumstances that one would ever imagine. In contrast, the introvert not only begrudges going to the gathering but is absolutely exhausted after it is over. Why the difference? Simply put, it is all about energy. The introvert receives energy from their inner world of thoughts and ideas. Basically, they prefer to observe and if they must be involved at all they prefer to listen rather than personally interact. They are the people who are usually picking up during the party or standing closer to the sidelines of a gathering rather than gregariously sharing stories within the group. They too, gather a great deal of information…just through a different orientation. Introverts prefer internal processing and observation rather than engaging in a full social interaction approach. One on one, or small group communication is more comfortable. The idea of ‘The more the merrier’ just doesn’t float their boat.

To understand this further, Jung, a notable expert in the field explains the difference by saying that although we are trained to use both our left and right hands, we do, inherently have a preference for being either right or left handed.

His description makes sense to me. When you are used to eating or writing with your right hand it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to use the left hand for the task but it is much harder, taking more concentration and energy to accomplish the task. Is one better than the other …No… but the difference is important to recognize. It helps us become a bit gentler on ourselves and others. When others do things that seem, at first blush, out of our comfort zone it is important to remember they to have their own lessons and communication preferences.

Once we have determined if we are an introvert or extrovert, the important thing to do is to APPLY this understanding to others. Take the time to observe others and practice seeing the differences in an extrovert and introvert. You will be able to decide, for yourself, whether their preferred style of communicating and understanding is alike or different than your own. Recognizing the difference is both amazing and significant and helps us better communicate with others.

Practice seeing the difference in an extrovert and introvert over the next few days and on my next blog we will drill down even further to discuss the next level of differences in thinking…how we prefer to receive and determine the validity of information obtained from others. We are going further down the rabbit hole…stay tuned!

Have a great few days!

How Do You Define Success?

What if your life at this exact moment is trying to teach you a lesson about genuine success and happiness. What do you think that lesson would be? What would you defined as success in your life? Is it highly individualistic or amazingly similar to others?

Early on in life we may hear people defining success as achieving the dream job, acquiring wealth, a multitude of friends and being able to call their own shots? In my decades of living this list sounds like a work of fiction rather than real life. We hear a similar type of thinking when someone says, ‘If I could only win the lottery I would buy…go…and do… and then I would be happy.’ Not really, the research is quite clear, most people who win the lottery end up worse off both financially and emotionally later in life. They do not deem their lives to have been happy or successful even with the windfall of money. Why is that? Maybe success in life is simpler than we think.

The people I know who are successful have worked hard, very hard in fact, to achieve something. They understand the need to delay their own gratification while working toward a longer term goal. Friends? They do not have a multitude of friends but a few very close friends and family that care deeply about them. They didn’t win the lottery but won something even better – confidence and pride in themselves. For them, success was not bought or sold but earned. There is no quick fix to success. They can see with pride the impact they have been able to make on others through their hard work. They have remained humble regardless of their accomplishments. Untouched by triumph and untroubled my failure. Challenges are viewed by them as opportunities from which to grow and learn. They realize that everyone has issues throughout their lives and that they did not draw the short straw. There is simply no inoculation available that allows immunity from life challenges or tragedies. We all receive exactly what we signed up for in this life – no more no less. Blaming others? Never…they accept responsibility for things that happen and realize that by blaming others they will never mature into adulthood. Age is a given, growing up is optional.

Research verifies these observations. When successful people have been interviewed in an attempt to understand how they achieved their success the answers were surprisingly simple. Hard work, integrity, caring for others, and working toward a vision and goals that they had set and reset became their mantra throughout their lives. There was no magic bullet, no Santa Claus, no winning lottery number but rather the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly work it takes to make a difference and achieve happiness and success.

Have a great few days!

Gratitude is the Answer!

Recently I read an inspiring book entitled, ‘The Priority List’ by David Menasche. Suffering from a slow growing brain tumor which over the course of six years took his mobility, memory and most of his vision he was forced to quit teaching. Rather than retreat into a world of self pity he decided to use the time he had left and truly see if he had made a difference in the lives of the thousands of students he felt fortunate to have taught. Ultimately, the lesson of gratitude weaves through his own life over and over from the letters written to him by his students.

At first blush you might think this book would be depressing but it is far from it. It is a true story that forces us to get out of our own heads for a bit and just think about how our own actions in life can have such an incredible effect on others. It also helps us see the importance of appreciating what we have rather than grieve for what we do not.

Being grateful, seeing our cup as half full rather than half empty has been linked to increased levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction. It has to be an incredible challenge to be grateful when you are facing a fatal illness. And yet, there are those special individuals who just find a way to exhibit gratitude for the little things and people they encounter in the moments left in their lives. Their attitudes can serve as a wake up call for us and serve as a model for a life well lived.

When you know someone that just has the capacity to appreciate with awe and appreciation the basics in life, doesn’t it just make you feel lighter, and more energized? What if… just what if… we decided to take just one day, one hour or even a moment to recognize all the things we have to be grateful for and remember with gratitude the people who have been there for us. As Rabbi Harold Kushner said, ‘if you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.’

If we don’t learn to practice gratefulness it doesn’t matter how much we have because it will never be enough – we will constantly want to have something more or something new or just basically something else.

This poem on being thankful really says it all.

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times,
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
And they can become your blessings.

Have a great few days!

Authentic Communication is a Gift

Sometimes we are so concerned about other people’s opinion of us that we carefully measure what we say, when we say it and even if we say something that is on our mind. Being aware of how we come across to others is a good thing. Like anything else in life it is a matter of timing and balance. When we are tired, not feeling well or overly stressed words sometimes tumble out and we wish we had a shovel to scoop them up quickly and pretend that they never happened. My British grandmother used to say, ‘The less said the sooner mended.’ She was a wise woman.

The truth is that good communication even among friends and family takes awareness and effort. It’s sort of like watering desert plants. Too much and the plants suffer or too little and they die. They are dependent on the natural order the give and take in their environment.

Similarly, there is a natural order to communication. Everyone takes a turn, we listen intently without interrupting and we ask clarifying questions to to be sure we understand their point. After all each of us from our past experiences have slightly different meanings for words spoken. Sometimes we may need to exhibit a bit more effort to remain mentally engaged but do so because we value not only the exchange but more importantly the person. We learn that a pause in the conversation is a good thing and doesn’t need to be quickly filled with a response. Pauses may just mean that the person is truly thinking about what was just said. As a result, our communication becomes deeper, richer and fuller.

How valued we feel when someone gives us undivided attention because they truly want to hear what we have to say. It is the ultimate compliment. Yet even with this compliment we are wise to remember that they also have a story to tell and may just be waiting for encouragement to do so. Another wise person once said, ‘You can learn amazing things when you truly listen.’ It’s true listening is at the heart of good communication. There is a reason why we have two ears and only one mouth.

It is, as if, everyone needs their place in the orchestra of life. Their instrument is their voice. Sometimes they need to be invited ‘up on stage’ by asking their opinion but that simple act shows them that they are valued. We all want to be noticed or applauded from time to time and authentic communication is a perfect way to do so.

When we take the time to listen and be heard we encourage, empathize and perform the ritual of living life to the fullest. We recognize that we are more alike than different and that the differences we do have are a good thing because they fit our individual life plan perfectly. Isn’t that just amazing?

Have a great few days!