In the book Am I Making Myself Clear? the author Terry Felber suggests that everyone views the world through their own representational system. A representational system is the lens through which we interpret the world and it’s created by the experiences of our five senses over time, including the influences of our heredity, environments, and various role models.
A simple example of how this works is seen in a hypothetical trip to the beach. Later, if we were to talk about the experience, our recollections would be translated through our different representational systems. One person might describe how the sun felt on their skin, another might describe the sound of the waves, or the reflection of the sun on the water, or the smell of salt in the air. As for me, I’d probably talk about how cold it is since going to a New England beach in December isn’t always the most pleasant of experiences! Same situation, same set of data, yet we all experienced something different.
The playwright George Bernard Shaw once suggested that “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” This illusion is created when we project our own representational system onto others—by assuming that they have had the same experiences with heredity, environments, and role models—and consequently fail to account for their actual motivations.
A proactive approach to addressing this issue is to examine the psychology behind these systems, such as the DISC Behavior Assessment. DISC is the acronym for a personality and behavioral model based on the work of Dr. William Marston’s 1928 book The Emotions of Normal People. In this model of human behavior there are four dominant personality types: 1) Dominant, 2) Influencing, 3) Steady, and 4) Compliant. Each personality type is motivated by different factors based on their dominant world view as conditioned by their heredity, environments, and role models, and the resulting behavior is influenced by underlying fears.
Being aware of how people interpret the world around them, and being sensitive to the underlying fears that motivate behavior, is a valuable practice for overcoming the illusion of communication. Likewise, being more aware of your own personality style will help you to better understand how to alter your behavior when interacting with others in a way that speaks to their motivations rather than from your limited world-view.
Whether we admit it or not, everyone is motivated by fear. It's biologically wired in our DNA. In the book The Biology of Happiness the author Bjørn Grinde points out that we are wired to gravitate towards that which affords us with positive effects, and eschew that which gives us negative effects. For example, we don’t have to think twice before pulling our hand off of a hot stove: the motivation to pull away from pain is built into our body’s nervous system.
With this in mind, reflect on your answers to the following questions:
By choosing to accept the intentional growth practice of developing and fostering a wider perspective we’ll transform our relationships by gaining more self-awareness, and empowered with greater clarity, empathy, and compassion when dealing with others.
If you’re ready to gain a wider perspective of your personality, motivations, and behaviors to achieve the next level of enjoyment and excellence, visit PositivityMagic.com/DISC and take the 10-minute DISC personality test. Your complete personality report will outline your styles of behavior, communication, strength, and work, and offer suggestions for personal and professional growth.
Jonas Cain is an Instructional Designer, Facilitator of Fascination, and Purveyor of Positivity for Hashtag Positivity, a social entrepreneurship that provides training, coaching, and resources to emerging leaders and their influencers to help them gain a leading edge in today’s world.