This has to be one of my favorite topics as well as workshops to facilitate. I love the look on the clients' or participants' faces as they are shown on several different occasions that they did not truly know how to define the terms that they use almost every day. How is this so?
Well, once upon a time long ago, for the sake of conformity, we were taught to think as everyone else. We each developed our own individual elevator speeches surrounding particular descriptions of our everyday relationships. If you were asked what type of personality traits you would want a particular person in your life to possess, I am sure you could rattle off at least 10 without taking a breath. The fun part here is actually getting you to define those 10 things in detail.
This is where the work begins.
Many of my one-on-one clients or workshop participants has told me before embarking upon this assignment that they thought it was irrelevant to the workshop, felt it was a waste of their time and money and that they could think of other ways to spend our time together. This took me by surprise the first time I was attacked with these comments; however I knew the importance of it. I now expect and welcome this type of reaction and look forward to changing their minds only 15 minutes within the definition exercise. Once asked to define terms they used to describe personality traits, the first response is to define the term using the very term again in the definition. Since the actual word itself is off limits for use in the definition, they are forced to really sit with the word for a while and try it again.
It usually takes several brainstorming efforts in order to come up with a definition that they are satisfied with, and that meets the criteria that I am looking for. However, here is where the surprise factor comes in—the actual definition that they gave for the word on the table at that moment is not the definition of that word but that of something else. They are amazed and a little embarrassed to recognize that one of the reasons why they never seemed to connect with a person that exhibited this trait is that they had not defined the term enough to know it when they saw it. This has brought about both positive and negative results.
The participants then go back over the list of individuals that they deemed as not having these traits while comparing their new definition of those traits. They are bewildered when they realized that some of the individuals did in fact encompass the 'essence' of what they were looking for, it was the participant that had not gone deep enough into defining the terms to see it. They also didn't realize that even though they stated one particular trait, they actually wanted something else.
If you would like to read the rest of this article, log onto the Web site www.purrfectharmonyinc.com and click on the Founder's Words. As always…until next month. firstname.lastname@example.org