Lovestache 325I painted this painting in response to the death of Jack layton, the leader of the New Democratic Party. It is not really a political painting. I like to think (no ego LOL) that it is about something larger. When Jack died there was a spontaneous outpouring from people from across Canada, from across the globe, from across income levels, from across ethnic, age or educational backgrounds and from across political affiliations.

What were they responding to? I had the thought that people were responding to the loss of someone with undeniable integrity. Here was a man who had a consistent and persistant message for years and years. He wasn’t angry or arrogant but outspoken and willing to educate anyone about the elements that were creating the current situation.

In a time when we are skeptical about our politicians and their motivations, Jack was a man we could trust. You might not like his politics or even the way he presented his message, but there was something that everyone recognized in him as being of value.

Trustache - the word cropThis was painted last summer and just yesterday – a week or so from the first day of Spring, someone pointed out that she had seen the graffiti “Trustache” that rhymes with Jack’s ever present moustache and read it differently. What she saw was TRUST ACHE and thought that the painting spoke to the “ache” that the voting population has for being able to TRUST our politicians and each other.

Some MBTI types use metaphor and even think in metaphor. This particular interpretation really touched me. Typically I say that I paint rather than call myself an artist, but having someone else see something deeper in your work is in the territory of art and what art contributes to the human experience.

Category : Communication | creativity | Uncategorized | Blog

Judging Perceiving 350

It is such a challenge to step outside of our own perceptual filters. Imagine you are a parent who believes that your preference for Judging and providing structure and organization for your family will keep them safe and on track. This is your duty as a good parent – right?

Imagine you are the teenager in this family. You have a clear preference for Perceiving and prefer to go with the flow. The emphasis and value placed on a structured life that is the hallmark of your family seems restrictive and positively boring. You know you are really responsible and that your last minute style suits how you like to work.

The juggling act that is parenting teenagers has an extra wrinkle in this family dynamic with this difference in Judging and Perceiving. Hopefully understanding each others type will pave the way for compassion. The parent’s preference for Judging is not an intentional plot to squash the teenager’s spirit, and the teenager’s preference for letting life happen rather than planning ahead does not mean that they are doomed to failure.

There are some wonderful opportunities for growth in this relationship if both individuals can stay open to learning from each other.

Category : Communication | MBTI Facts | Relationships | Uncategorized | Blog

Here’s a wee story. This one happened to occur in a pottery class.

There is a local storefront that has a display of hand built and thrown pottery tempting people to wander in to see and touch. Once inside you notice that just behind the display is a working studio with people hunched over a lump of clay creating bowls and cups and other treasures.

There is something primal about clay. Just getting your hands into the mud and water allows you to go to another place that takes you away from the clutter of your mind. Indeed you need to be able to let go and center yourself before you can hope to center clay on the potter’s wheel.

A friend was telling me about seeing this scenario and signing up for classes hoping to partake in this engrossing creative environment. Unfortunately someone with a preference for Extraversion who also happened to be asleep to her behaviour and its impact on others also signed up. She was loud and chatty. She simply saw silence as a void to be filled and kept a loud stream of noise going throughout the class.

Now it is easy to see how Extraverts can be disruptive. I am sure that many polite people in the class wanted to scream “BE QUIET!” However any behaviour taken to the extreme or inappropriate to the circumstances can have a negative impact on others. I have also met people who complain about living with those who don’t talk, those who over-analyze, those who are impulsive and on it goes.

We create our own reality.

I have heard that phrase many times from teachers, and have embraced the idea behind these words. What I pay attention to becomes what is real for me. I suppose the trick is to recognize the implications of my filtering system and to recognize that there is so much to pay attention to that multiple realities are possible and quite possibly equally valid to my own.

Developing the capacity to observe ourselves and increase our awareness of the context in which we are operating – well what can I say – it is the ideal answer. Now the trick is to get everyone else to buy in so that we can all make our pots in a an environment where centering is easy.

Category : Communication | Blog

Last week a group that I belong to had the injection of 3 members taking the group to 10. WOW the energy in the room was amplified tenfold and I really had the sense that the new members had shifted the dynamic 100% in a brief hour.

Personality was one aspect of this impact. I could imagine that at least 2 of the 3 members had a preference for Extraversion and Thinking. Since we use Insights as our assessment tool of choice these new members brought a significant injection of Red energy.

Believe me when I say I was awake for the whole meeting. The pace increased and I had the sense that people were processing quickly and would not tolerate being bored. That certainly caught my attention and it was an exciting element to think of how the conversation was going to be interesting and challenging.

There would be absolutely no going back to a more bucolic pace. We were in for a different kind of meeting.

What’s comfortable and familiar is seductive for many. Even change junkies have places in their lives where they fall back into the familiar. How to you handle change in a group? Are you ready to rewrite “how things are done around here”. to accommodate the needs of the new additions?

Category : Communication | Other Assessments | Team Building | Blog

Sometimes people find other people too loud, too enthusiastic, too assertive or conversely too quiet, too dull or too timid.

“So what?” you may ask.

If you are trying to influence another to accept your ideas or buy your services too much of anything can become a “deal breaker.” The unfortunate part is that these opinions about your “worthiness” are arrived at in a split second.

But what can we do with feedback that says we are “too” of anything?

My take is that we are who we are for the most part so transformation from one end of the spectrum to the other is something that has a one in a million chance of happening and sticking. Polishing the stone, enhancing what we have, tweaking what needs tweaking is something to aspire to and is a sign of our maturity and attainment of a modicum of grace.

A personal example… In earlier days when I was studying NLP it came to my attention that I often used “distractor” patterns in my communication. In my case this meant hand gestures that were closer to flailing than firm decisive gestures and hemming and hawing patterns in my speech. Think of the kinds of things you might see and hear from a young teenager. What may be cute and disarming in 14 year old loses more and more of its charm with each decade.

What changes did I make?

These patterns may still surface from time to time but I learned to focus on others in order to stop this behaviour that was fueled by self-consciousness. When I shift my energy and attention to watching the sensory cues of others all of my attention and intention is about them getting the results they want and need. The net result was that I automatically slowed down and calmed down my speech and movements. It was more about turning down the volume on what wasn’t working and turning up the volume on what would work better.

Do you have a focus on improvement? Are you trying to “fix” or “polish”?

Category : Communication | Blog

In a nut shell – people won’t talk to you. That’s the 5 word version of what can happen but let me elaborate.

I had a wonderful conversation today. The conversation was in a social setting but the stated purpose was to talk about the Enneagram. It is my version of heaven on earth – exploring the wonder of our Inner Landscapes.

That is until the “thing” appeared.

The “thing” is the guarded response which people do when they try to reply without giving themselves away. They edit their speech to eliminate any words or phrases that they recognize as type specific. It is as if they see you as a mind reader able to observe what is going on inside – inside THEM!!!.

Not only can’t I read minds – I am not interested. It is the energy dynamic between people, the thrust and parry, the synchronicity that excites me. So talk away…you, my dear, are simply fascinating.

Category : Communication | Blog

I know how you feel

When someone is talking from their ideals, from their heart, a quick thrust to the bottom line can be a jolt and can seem abrasive. Here’s a tip for uber-analytical types “When someone is waxing enthusiastically, soften the delivery if you want to be heard.”

If you cannot see the “doodle” go to

Category : Communication | Doodles | Blog

My first response to this question about Extroverts capability to listen was an automatic and very vocal ABSOLUTELY.

In saying that I recognize that the MBTI simply looks at preferences and not capability but it can also point out potential “blindspots” and “By George” I think I just discovered one.

Lesley Parrott, queen of the Insights Discovery inventory, a preference based system built on the work of Jung, very kindly pointed out that Extroverts often want to align with others and this can affect how they listen. She want on to demonstrate the LISTEN and ADD technique

Person A – I had this awesome life shattering experience trekking in the Himalayas (Or whatever else the topic may be)

Person E for Extrovert (adds without a breath in between) I know I know when I backpacked through Poughkeepsie yada yada….

I blushed because I am SO guilty of doing that. I sometimes approach conversation as if it was improv.

Lesley went on to identify how great radio interviewers such as the late great Canadian host Peter Gzowski could ask a question and then let it sit out there in silence giving the person a chance to answer.

The secret to listening … SHUT UP and WAIT for a response or continuation of the thought.

Can you leave “dead” air? What are the chances you might hear something that you might have missed if you filled the void?

Category : Communication | Blog

MBTI Cartoon - Extravert surprise

This week during a conversation with an Extraverted salesperson who did not know the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I described the differences between Introversion and Extraversion and the internal processing of those with a preference for Introversion.

At first a look of surprise crossed their face and this was followed by an immediate aha moment. They went on to describe a conversation that had just occurred that morning with a client. The salesperson had been using discovery questions to explore the needs of this client and was getting MUCH MORE silence than response. The silence compelled the salesperson to push – asking even more questions. As this Extravert listened to me describe how the Introvert has a dominant function that is in the internal world not the external, they suddenly were able to reframe the clients behaviour from “being difficult (on purpose)” to being the Introvert’s natural way of reflecting before speaking. They were thrilled to have the suggestion to give the person time to reflect before pushing for an answer before the person has had a moment to ponder their response

(For any email subscribers -The “doodle” that accompanies this post can be viewed by clicking on the link in the title)

Category : Communication | Doodles | Blog

One great conversation over the holidays centered on people who are just “too much.” Typically that means they are too much for other people to deal with. They might be too loud, too peppy, too emotional, too aggressive, too confident … fill in your word of choice.

This was my daughter’s phrase and I asked her if she belonged to this tribe. We laughed because Karen describes herself as a “big feeler.” The gift of this is her ability to be in a conversation with anyone no matter how challenging the topic. She doesn’t deflect or change course when encountering heavy emotional territory, she steers fearlessly for the eye of the storm, allowing others to express and consequently move beyond the “touchy” places.   She comes by this honestly, apparently, because her sister and her mother are also tribe members from time to time. (Okay okay I admit to crying during commercials.)

There is a downside to being “too much.” People give you messages either directly as in “You’re too much!” or ” Stop being so emotional” or indirectly by backing away, averting their eyes or other non-verbal messaging. This holds true for people who are too loud, too friendly, too assertive but some of the tribe are immune to other people’s responses. Others in the tribe end up feeling that they don’t fit in and this can cause them to withdraw, act out or alter their behaviour.

It occurred to me that Hans Christian Andersen’s tale ‘The Ugly Duckling” captures the alienation we feel when we aren’t like others. Trying to conform may seem like the prescribed solution, but ultimately it doesn’t work if it results in feeling like you are abandoning yourself.

Here are three suggestions for anyone who feels that they are “too much” at  times.

  1. Accept yourself just the way you are. I’m not implying that you might not wish to change some aspects of how you show up to others. Perhaps you’ll change or maybe you won’t. The truest way to have change happen naturally is to start by looking at “what is” and simply being okay with that. If you force yourself to adapt you may end up in resistance and further embedded in “too much” as a result of undue stress.
  2. If there is a person or group of people in your life who give off messages that they don’t accept you as you are, think about what you want to do about that. Letting people constantly criticize and judge you is a recipe for stress. It is okay to outgrow friends, colleagues even lifestyles. They don’t need to be blamed or made wrong. It may simply be the time to move on.
  3. Develop a practice of being a neutral yet compassionate observer of your behaviour. Notice those “too much” episodes without judgment. “How fascinating!” “How interesting” “Look at this dynamic”. This simple mindful habit (skill), anchored in acceptance, is one of the most powerful contributors to change.

Good luck to any fellow ducklings! I’d love to hear how this fairy tale scenario holds true for you.

Category : Communication | Perspectives | Blog