Friday 29 January 2016

More On My Dark Side

Before Christmas I posted on My Dark Side, and specifically the Hogan psychometric instrument. I said at the time that I had not yet had the formal feedback session. This week I had a follow up meeting with Julia Cater of People Decisions, and we spent a couple of hours exploring the feedback report.

The first thing to say is that Julia is very skilled. She had a style that seemed relaxed and unstructured, but had clearly given serious thought to the questions raised by my feedback, and was very effective at focusing the discussion and helping me to develop real insights.

Moreover, and this is something I particularly admire, she took some personal risks in the meeting, in terms of honest disclosure of her own response to me, and that proved a catalyst for real learning.

Specifically, she had picked up on the apparent contradiction between my scoring very highly as Reserved, on the one hand, and as Colourful and Imaginative, on the other. These were my three highest scoring scales. 

According to the tool, these are strengths that may become risks if taken too far. Julia had looked behind these and unearthed something interesting: the risk behind 'Reserved' is related to my being nervous of others. The risk around both 'Colourful' and 'Imaginative' is that I make others nervous around me.

My initial reaction, of course, is that I don't make others nervous. I rather pride myself on creating a safe environment, both for my coaching clients, and in my group work.

But prompted by Julia's skilled coaching, I went a bit further than that, and reflected on times when I have in fact had that feedback. 

And then, prompted by a hypothesis from Julia (incorrect, as it happened, but nonetheless useful for that), I went further still, and reoriented my self-understanding quite considerably. For I had maintained that the 'Reserved' me was the real me, whilst the 'Colourful' and 'Imaginative' me is a persona I can adopt, a set of skills I have developed, to make me an effective and stimulating facilitator.

So Julia asked if that were a defence. And then I realised: it was the other way around. As a child, I had been Colourful and Imaginative (to a fault, some would argue); the Reserve was the defence; one that I had developed in response to years of bullying and hostile teasing at my secondary school; and possibly reinforced by a very controlling and bullying boss in my first job in training.

Julia also helped me to reflect on some of the unintended impact of that habitual reserve: when I fail fully to engage with people, they are likely to feel unvalued. They will not read it as my being reserved, as my other characteristics of Colourful and Imaginative don't suggest that. So they are likely to read it as my not thinking them worthy of my time and attention. That is important to me: I do not wish to hurt anyone by poor habits of behaviour.

So I need to moderate my 'Reserved' habits of behaviour - but not eliminate them. Because I also realise they have a real value to me: not least keeping my 'Colourful' and 'Imaginative' tendencies in check so that I don't cause others to be too nervous of me, too much of the time!

There was a lot more I learned, as Julia continued to give me good feedback, ask good questions, and disclose some of her own impressions of me. But this, I think, is sufficient to give a flavour both of the power of the tool, and the power of some really skilled coaching.

A final thought: I think I got more insight from Hogan HDS than from MBTI Step 1 or Step 2.  I have blogged before about MBTI so won't re-hash that here. But it tended to confirm how good it was to be as I perceived I was. Hogan HDS both challenged how good it was, and how accurate the perception was anyway.

I will be getting trained in the Hogan tools later this year.

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