Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Avoiding the Misuse of Valuable Insights

After I led a recent group training based on the Peoplemap Communication System, a participant expressed his appreciation.  This was the second time he had taken the profile.  He went on to say, “The last time I took this, and my supervisor held it against me.”  When I asked for clarification, he explained that the last time he had completed the Peoplemap in a group setting that included his supervisor and another person on the staff.  In subsequent conversations, the supervisor evidently used the results as a “club” to point out that my friend was deficit in certain areas, was too often blinded by his strengths or natural tendencies, and was unable to change his actions or behaviors.

This is not the first time that I have heard someone say that their results on a profile have been turned against them.   I have also heard of people who used their results on a personality profile to excuse their behavior with the comment, “That’s just the way I am.”  Both approaches illustrate a failure to understand how such information should be handled.

When I administer the Peoplemap, I make it a point to state that it is grounded in the Positive Psychology movement.  The basic idea of Positive Psychology is to help healthy, normal human beings discover and affirm their natural traits and abilities and to maximize them in such a way to make life more fulfilling. This approach recognizes that when people know more about themselves, they can learn to function more effectively as a person and as part of a team.  Mike Lillibridge has verified the validity and reliability of the Peoplemap instrument, but he states that if someone doesn’t agree with the outcome, he or she should feel free to try on some other personality types that seem more appropriate.

Personality profiles like Peoplemap, DiSC, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and others are meant to be descriptive and not prescriptive.  They enable the individual to understand himself or herself better and to take responsibility for their behavior as a result of what they have learned. Rather than limiting one’s options such understanding expands them.  The tool in itself is less important than the debriefing and the applications of one’s insights.

The more we know about ourselves, our interactions with others, and the way that others perceive us, the healthier and happier we will be.

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