Over the past three blogs, we have looked at Learning Style Preferences as a way to better understand what makes people tick and enhance our ability to communicate. We started by looking at extroverts – those people who get energy from others compared to introverts who gather more energy from learning, observing and internally processing ideas. Next, we looked at the second level of preference – Sensing which looks for cause and effect and is a more analytic approach or the Intuitive – those who prefer a more ‘what if’ style of thinking that considers options, and possibilities yet unknown. The third level of difference in preferences is in the way we perceive the world and process information. The Thinking approach includes those who prefer having plans A, B, and C, a more linear approach. These folks can make changes in their plans but prefer to analyze the situations first, develop a plan and then make mid-course corrections as needed along the way. The other Learning preference discussed was labeled Feeling. These folks prefer to seek consensus through more give and take in decision making. Their approach would be to consider options A, B, then jump possibly to F or Q as they consider the feelings or beliefs of others. Possibilities and decisions are more closely aligned to their personal values rather than logic.
The fourth and last difference in our Learning/Living style is in how we process information, using either a Judgment or Perception approach. Those that prefer the Judgment approach like to complete a job before the deadline or at least on time. They prioritize tasks, make ‘to do’ lists and are driven to completing goals. They want closure before moving on to the next task. They can handle having many balls in the air at once because behind each ball is a plan for completion.
Those who prefer the Perception style, choose to remain open to possibilities, new information and to be allowed to ‘go with the flow.’ They hesitate to plan in advance because they are concerned that something better might come along which could change the final outcome. They may appear scattered in their thinking but to them designing a plan in advance is not only uncomfortable it is downright restrictive. They are comfortable with ambiguity and choose to make last minute changes or plans even on the fly. Consequently, they are more laid back and just feel that the process will eventually work out for the best.
When we recognize that from all these variables,16 different personality types exist the challenge to communicate is better understood. Each type has significantly different ways they hear, see, feel and communicate. It’s no wonder that at times we misunderstand and, at times, are misunderstood.
The challenge for each of us is to recognize and honor the differences in personality types and look for the little nuggets of gold each possess. What can they contribute to the game that will add more value to the final result? When we accept others for their strengths rather than judging or discounting them for their differences everyone wins!
The next time you feel drained by attending a social event, frustrated by someone’s lack of planning or upset that they have not prioritized things ‘properly’ just take a deep breath and let it go. Unless their approach causes you more stress or hassle it really doesn’t matter. Maybe ‘flying by the seat of their pants’ works for them as hard as that may be for us to understand. When we take the initiative to explain what we need to be more comfortable or productive maybe – just maybe – they will try their best to deliver. After all, each of us can adapt to different preferences, it just takes more energy to do so.
Acceptance and understanding is the key to enhanced communication skills. You now have more information as to why people act in certain ways and the challenge is to apply it. You can do it! Remember different Learning/Living styles produce different ways of managing in this world and it’s all okay. The Universe doesn’t make mistakes.
Have a great few days!