Traveling with the Enneagram

A Type Five and a couple of Type Twos took a trip, and the some of the differences were text book.

On the plane, when a baby was crying the Type 5 picked up a magazine and gave them privacy, the Type Twos were twisting around in their seats trying to offer help and solutions…  the Type Five had researched the itinerary and had maps and suggestions in a folder, the Type Twos were so appreciative and the Type Twos offered help with luggage and shared their resources readily which the Type Five needed having packed minimally…  and when invited to a large gathering, the Type Twos arrived early and were trying to help set up and talk to the leader, and see what was needed, the Type Five was in the car, getting some quiet time before the (somewhat draining) main event…

What they enjoyed that the weekend, was the adventure, weather and outings with each other and the chance to debrief with someone who shared the wonderful experience.  What joy to have good friends that help us in our weak areas and appreciate our strengths!

 

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Yes, but…

There are people who listen and people who don’t, and then there are the folks who listen and say, “Yes, but…”.  I vote to kick them out of the listeners’ group. It feels like tires spinning on an icy road, there is no traction. You say something, and they don’t disagree, instead they slant the conversation by comparing what you said with something bigger, better or often, someone worse off.  An observant friend commented that even “No, but…” is a more engaging comment, at least they are tracking with you and have something to add.

In any case, you don’t feel listened to and it’s hard to return to the original point. Sometimes the slant is spoken casually, and sometimes with passion because there is hot spot in the topic for the listener.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if the listener would wave a flag?


BEWARE:

This topic = Fireworks!!


I’d like to suggest universal speaking and listening etiquette:

1. Speaker: states topic, opinion or idea without interruption, for up to 3 minutes. (I’ve read where most people can’t listen for more than 17 seconds without interrupting; well my family has broken that record, easily).
2. Listener: summarizes what is said before changing the topic or even asking a follow-up question.
3. Speaker: ‘thanks for listening’ – acknowledge the time/energy spent caring about your thoughts or feelings, this is a gift.

Truth or kindness?

Ever notice how rare it is to find someone who speaks truth in a kind way? Many of us have to be worked up to spout off the truth, and then in ways that are not helpful.

Truth alone can be brutal                                           Kindness alone can be people pleasing

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TRUTH baked in the oven of KINDNESS can be digested and used to nourish.

Getting through – the 3 Minute Check In

The ASAP access of social media and instant messaging makes old fashion phone calls seem outdated.  Dialing up someone and waiting for it to ring, then having a conversation where you give attention to one person and what they have to say…  what a quaint notion.

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Are there any teenagers or young adults in your life? Try the 3 Minute Check In. My kids will pick up now that I have instituted this format.  There is often a reason for the call, but I have thought about it and have three minutes to check in with them as well, how are they – what’s up recently, and then my idea, request or question.

If you have older friends or relatives that still use the phone to stay in touch, it might be good to think of your own adaptation of the 3 Minute Check In.  If Aunt Martha reports on every physical ailment and condition of her and her neighbors, you might try the 10 Minute Check In.   Just the structure of the time frame might help to eliminate organize topics.

Whether it’s a land line, a hand held or the latest cell phone there is a place for the voice to voice conversations, especially when travelling, to help you feel connected.  Skype was a challenge for this tech resistant caller, until our daughter was studying abroad – then it was a magic portal into her international experience.  How do you best connect with your friends and loved ones?

Cutting out the negativity, 30 day challenge

The Zero Negativity Challenge  was mentioned in a previous blog… a 30 day promise of NO negative messages conveyed through words, body language or tone. My family was game, willing to try after a discussion about humor and talking styles.  It builds a safety zone through respect, and encourages self awareness for needs and wants as you learn to ask, and not demand, things from others. This means that the two people, or in our case four, who sign the agreement will let the other know if they feel respect and understanding, and likewise if they hear/see/notice put downs, criticism or dismissive comments.

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True story – our two young adult kids who live at home were both enthusiastic about signing this agreement with us. Thirty days we would all watch what and how we said things to each other. And as our kids and I turned to leave the den, signed agreement in hand, there broke out a discussion that included some criticism regarding a mutual friend accompanied with eye rolling and the works…  after waving the newly signed paper and they quickly added, “this starts tomorrow!” which got quite a laugh from all of us.

It is really difficult to go a day, yet less a month without letting hurt, disappointment or resentment creep in via criticism or sarcasm. This agreement is really a challenge to self regulate, or as the ancient philosopher said “know thyself”. In your day to day, when are you being dishonest and saying Yes to something you really don’t have the energy or motivation to fulfill? When are you past the point of hunger and your blood sugar is wavering or you’re tired and instead of taking a break, you soldier on? Then within moments your voice tone gets snappy or louder or feeling resentful/put out the criticisms or put downs come sliding out because your feel overwhelmed and underappreciated?

Come on, try it. Just for a day – encourage each other and build each other up. It’ll make them wonder what you’re up to. 🙂

Heroes series – Terrence Real

There are people who observe, people who write about change, people who do the change…  in the world of therapy there is an author who has observed couples over the years and written about change, AND he has also lived that change with his own marriage and relationship with his father.  Terrence Real is one of my relational heroes.

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“I Don’t Want to Talk About It” is a ground breaking book about relationships, depression and how it shows up in men especially in covert ways, often overlooked.  Such good stuff, stepping back to take in the American world view with the limits and repression of the patriarchy that has shaped our society for so many years. Splitting off certain qualities into more worthy (doing, accomplishments: masculine) and less worthy (being, relational: feminine) has diminished us all and led to some very dissatisfying and often destructive relationships over the years. He gives theory and action steps to develop and nourish exciting, vital relationships.

He encourages the women to speak up with savvy and respect, to go toe to toe for what they need and want in the relationship, which calls the man to be who he could ultimately be.  Revolutionary steps for those of us raised to be loving by not speaking up/disagreeing with others.  And equally revolutionary for those who feel safe behind their tv remotes and sports chatter to step out and engage from their heart.  The following quote sums up this change from safely uninvolved to growing honesty and joy filled connection:

“In twenty years of practice, I have encountered many unfortunate women who, afraid to make reasonable demands on their depressed husbands, wound up, years later, being left anyway. Most wives do not fully contain the resentment that they rightfully feel.  And even if they do, the relationship itself eventually loses vitality by virtue of the lack of honest engagement.  Conversely, unless the patient has already decided to leave his family, I have rarely encountered a man who was willing to set foot in my office but unwilling,with coaching and help, to pick up the challenge of increased relational skill.”     “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”, pg 318