A Most Pleasant and Satisfying Weekend
We’ve often written about communication disconnects that can happen between differences between Perceptual Styles. I’d venture to say that most communication breakdowns, conflicts, and teamwork issues can be traced back to people with different Perceptual Styles interacting with each other without awareness.
Your Perceptual Style is one of six. So, 83% of the people you meet will have a different Perceptual Style from yours. The probability of miscommunication is high!
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been frustrated over small, insignificant communications because what seems like it should be easy and straightforward isn’t. This is caused not just by the use of different words or meanings; it is a whole different mindset. Each Perceptual Style runs a different program of meaning, importance, reference, purpose, and approach that is challenging to factor into meaningful interactions, much less casual ones.
But what happens to communication with someone who shares your Perceptual Style? That is what this article is all about!
My Perceptual Style is Activity, and it is no surprise to me that several of my closest and longest friends share my Perceptual Style. One of these friends, Jim, visited me a couple of weekends ago.
I met Jim when I was a freshman in college 50 years ago, in January of 1973. In the half-century we have known each other, there was only a small window of about three years during which we were out of touch, and it was when we were both focused on new marriages, parenthood, and beginning careers.
While an in-person visit only happens two or three times a year, we communicate regularly through email, texts, and a weekly Zoom call. With that amount of contact, one might suspect we would tire of each other. Quite the contrary! During all the time I have known him, I cannot think of a time that we have gotten tired of being with each other, have run out of things to talk about, or lost our fascination with each other’s lives and experiences.
We started talking as soon as he got into my truck when I picked him up from the airport on Thursday, and we stopped talking when I drove away after dropping him off at the airport on Sunday!
So, what do we talk about? What’s going on psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually, our wives (both of whom are Perceptual Style Opposite Methods!), our children, our grandchildren, politics, on and on and on! A better question would be, what don’t we talk about?
Most importantly, we tell stories. Interesting stories, stupid stories, and funny stories. Some stories make a point, some illustrate a point, some go nowhere, some don’t seem to relate but do when we get to the end, and stories that just wander.
I emphasize the storytelling because it’s such an essential part of being Activity and because both our wives are Methods. Now if you are Activity, I probably don’t have to explain, but the rest of you are thinking, “What do those things have to do with each other?”
Being married to a Perceptual Style Opposite has its challenges. There is the glory of complementarity – there are things she does exceptionally well that I am not good at and vice versa – and there is the challenge of Opposites – some of my Activity traits are inexplicable to her. Storytelling is one of them!
To understand, you need to know that storytelling for the Activity Perceptual Style is not a simple process. You think of a story, then you realize that you have to provide context, then you have to decide how much. The challenge is keeping it brief!
While you are telling the story, at least half a dozen more stories will seem necessary to the point of the main story, and it becomes important to tell that story and then circle back to the main story once more unless, of course, you need to tell a story within the story within the story.
Occasionally (OK, more often than occasionally!) I will actually forget what the point of the first story was. It usually comes back to me after a few minutes, hours, or even days later. With Jim, all I have to do is quickly reference the original story, and he is ready to continue.
All of this really taxes my wife’s Methods Perceptual Style, which prefers facts to stories, straightforward to complex and circuitous, and a logical step-by-step progression from point A to point D with only B and C in between and in order!
So, for the sake of being understood and not tuned out, I really have to rein in my storytelling with her. I know I am in trouble when I am just getting warmed up, and my wife looks at me and says, “I’m not following you!” I can see that she continues to listen only out of politeness.
I have tried explaining how it all fits together, but that only makes it worse. It doesn’t work because I am trying to explain how I see things, and she doesn’t get it because she doesn’t see things the way I do. (To be fair, the opposite is true when I don’t get how she sees things!).
This type of disconnect never happens between Jim and me. I don’t have to explain how my brain works and vice versa because, with the same Perceptual Style, our brains work quite similarly! While we may disagree on content, I never feel like we conflict on the rules of engagement.
I know that there are things we miss in our conversations. Things that don’t get challenged and viewpoints that don’t get considered. I know it’s important to appreciate Perceptual Style differences and work to bridge communication disconnects and conflict. But it is also good to get that deep sense of validation for my internal process that can only come from being around someone with the same Perceptual Style!
So, the next time you are spending time with someone who shares your Perceptual Style, take a moment to consider how easy it is to follow each other’s conversation!
Until next time – celebrate who you are and laugh a little each day!
Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.
To find out more about the services we have available to help you find the success you want and deserve go to https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
© Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., All Rights Reserved
About Dr. Gary M. Jordan, Ph.D.
Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 35 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley. He is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. He’s a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., a consulting firm that specializes in helping people discover their true skills and talents. For more information, visit https://www.YourTalentAdvantage.com.
For additional information on Dr. Gary Jordan, please click here