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Street Fighter

Metaprograms

Posted on 2013.03.02 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
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I've been reading this fascinating and disheartening series on LinkedIn by Tony Robbins. Fascinating because it breaks down into individual components why people see the world differently - far more prismatic than binary introvert/extrovert or optimist/pessimist. It goes deep into the way people perceive things, and how they process what they see based on these sweeping-yet-numerous differences in perception and processing. He calls these metaprograms.

Tony Robbins uses examples to explain. Some people first notice and remark on differences in patterns then later similarities while other notice and remark on similarities before differences. While not an entirely compelling observation individually, coupled with those who establish trust immediately and irrevocably to those who require frequent reinforcement and the differences in people who move "toward" things (pleasure) as opposed to those who move "away" from things (pain), he starts painting a deep profile of how to communicate differently. He even brings up one of my favorite subjects, intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation - which he calls internal or external frames of reference. Given that none of us are fully one direction or fully its obverse - tending to fall somewhere along the spectrum - it would seem awfully difficult to definitively label anyone especially given the exponential combinations we as a species score on those numerous metatrprograms. Nor has he released his next chapter, "Possibility versus Necessity" (I can already guess where I fall on that one).

I find all of this disheartening because its a lot of freaking work to try to bend to each individual's communication requirements - meet their individualized expectations. Of course he's speaking to those who's job it is to do so. Myself? After absorbing all of this information, I am of the mind that I expect those who's communication styles may differ to be aware of that aspect of their personality themselves. I will meet them halfway. It would be absurd for me to expect them to communicate with me flawlessly, and if they have a similar expectation it is my duty to point out the flaw in that logic so we can fulfill each other's expectations. I'm not going to do all the heavy lifting alone.

This becomes problematic because if someone is not communicating well with me, my initial reaction isn't to take offense - rather try to work out the kinks so we can reach mutual understanding. This is near impossible for those who's initial reaction is some form of limited comprehension about these things usually manifesting itself as defensiveness. There are simply too many diverse ignorance's for me to individually address without being met halfway.

I don't want to talk, I want to communicate. And if someone isn't communicating well, I will alter my approach - ask leading questions - to some this feels like an interrogation! They don't know why they hold the opinions they do but they should certainly never be questioned! Where's the mutual understanding in that? I don't know what Tony Robbins would have to say about those who do fall on the extreme end of each of his scales, except this, "They can modify their strategies to some extent, but only if someone talks to them in their own language...It takes tremendous effort and patience."

Here's a social engineering example to try at home: Approach anyone with some new ideas about ways to think or behave or motivate; inject politics or religion or money or race or sex and see how long it takes them to utter the words, "I shouldn't have to change."

That is my new benchmark, and I now fully realize the breadth it encompasses. Even perhaps unconsciously, people who say that mean it and it applies far more liberally than they are letting on. No amount of "effort and patience" can change another person. Ironically, the person who claims, "I shouldn't have to change" seemingly expects the sender to change to accommodate their requirements. When they state their absolute, it applies only to them - its not a globally applicable statement. Truly a fascinating psychology.

As for me, "Game Over."

Comments:


pcofwildthings
pcofwildthings at 2013-03-02 14:29 (UTC) (Link)
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

Interesting analysis, and it makes sense. I think most people try to meet you partway, but there are those who are more rigid. In time, one can usually come to understand their motivation. Whether it's worth the investment to try to change their perception depends on the circumstances, however. I worked for a guy for many years who liked to think he was in control--no, that's not even correct...it was important for his own ego to maintain for himself the illusion of control. Anyone who worked with both of us knew who to really ask for the answers most of the time (including this boss), and that was me. But I didn't have to live with the guy 24/7, I just had to deal with him during work hours (which, you can probably guess, were able to be greatly reduced because things were "under control"). When I left, he went through assistants one after the other and showed a truly ugly, mean streak that was never a part of our daily interaction. The other staff would be like, "Was he ever like this to you?" and the answer was honestly no. He finally has had an assistant now for a couple years who seems to understand the ruse or the rules of the dance. Not saying that was the right way to deal with it, but it was a working solution.
ehowton
ehowton at 2013-03-02 19:38 (UTC) (Link)
I must be turning into a crotchety old man. Because I am now very aware of the use of subjective words, false dichotomies and absolutes I don't point them out to others to be elitist, rather to ensure that I am not misunderstanding what they are attempting to transmit. That had been my downfall for years. While still guilty of them myself from time to time (as you have pointed out in the past), I endeavor to minimize or eradicate them. In highly fluid environments such as personal or working relationships, a sustainable paradigm seems to me to be imperative. Without which - chaos!
Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2013-03-03 16:14 (UTC) (Link)
Those who believe they should never have to change, are bound to be forever disappointed in life when shockingly, the rest of the world does not bend to their will. Sure, there are those of us willing to make some limited concessions sometimes, but the relationship ratio cannot be zero change on the one hand and 100% on the other. That is not a relationship.

ehowton
ehowton at 2013-03-03 16:48 (UTC) (Link)
Fascinatingly enough, the few times I have run into this, those who say, "I shouldn't have to change" do believe they change and compromise - often! However, they seem to be limited to external change - nothing intrinsic, and they don't understand the difference. Its not about where you live or who you know or how you spend your time, its about who you are as a person - how you behave and what you believe and how you show the world your value and worth.

FYI here's an overview to the LinkedIn series: http://training.tonyrobbins.com/2278/want-to-communicate-more-effectively-recognize-patterns-and-make-new-distinctions/
Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2013-03-03 17:07 (UTC) (Link)
Yes. They don't understand that iif they do something for another person, but do it begrudgingly, without a good heart, and as part of a negotiation process - I do something for you so you will owe me - this does not constitute change and / or compromise. It is merely temporary submission. Not collaborative. Not teamwork. Just a dysfunctional power play.

Thanks for the link!
Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2013-03-03 16:24 (UTC) (Link)
From the text Organizational Behavior:

"...emotions play a role in shaping perception. Negative emotions allow us to oversimplify issues, lose trust, and put negative interpretations on the other party's behavior. In contrast, positive feelings increase our tendency to see potential relationships between among the elements of a problem, to take a broader view of the situation, and to develop more innovative solutions."
ehowton
ehowton at 2013-03-05 16:52 (UTC) (Link)
If I am understanding this paragraph correctly, negative emotions eventually make you dumber, and positive emotions help to make you smarter? This explains a lot.
Codekitten
codekitten at 2013-03-04 22:26 (UTC) (Link)
"because its a lot of freaking work to try to bend to each individual's communication requirements....rather try to work out the kinks so we can reach mutual understanding."

i too do this, almost like second nature. most of the time it's almost effortless (because most people respond to this, mirroring if you will).

but when you are meeting someone 1/2 way (or more) and they don't do any of the work, or don't play by the standard "rules", it takes a lot for me not to just shut off.

i feel your pain.
ehowton
ehowton at 2013-03-05 16:51 (UTC) (Link)
This may sound very odd (I've always thought so), but your use of the word "mirroring" brought it to mind:

When speaking with someone who speaks haltingly, I start to as well. Or an accent, or even words below my vocabulary level if that's how they are communicating with me or using their own local colloquialisms as I pick up on them. I always just thought I was weird (and that may be regardless). But in light of your statement, interesting.

Remember River in Firefly's "Shindig" when she puts on a Cockney accent and berates Badger? Exactly the kind of diversion we could have used...
Codekitten
codekitten at 2013-03-17 10:50 (UTC) (Link)
funny because that's *exactly* what i meant (without elaborating). i do the same thing which sometimes trips me up but i think mostly serves well with communication with another person.

wouldn't it be great if someone did that with us? i think i'd be so flattered that someone made the effort that it would definitely be a kind of diversion :)
ehowton
ehowton at 2013-03-18 03:31 (UTC) (Link)
How very bizarre that was *exactly* what you were talking about.
Codekitten
codekitten at 2013-03-19 00:52 (UTC) (Link)
are you mirroring me? :P
ehowton
ehowton at 2013-03-19 00:54 (UTC) (Link)
LOL! No, but that's funny. I mean, I've never run across anyone who did that before - I thought I was very odd in doing it myself, and yet that's what you were talking about without even saying so? Bizarre!
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