Transitions, Radio Silence, and a Homework Assignment…

13 05 2011

Hey Mind Colors Readers! Happy Friday. It occurred to me this week that I’ve been writing this blog for 15 months – started in February of 2010. Can’t believe how the time has flown by since I started. Thank you, all of you, for your feedback, comments here and by email and phone, and for your continued support and interest. I’ve learned a great deal, both in the writing and in your feedback.

This next week or so is wacky for the Mind Colors Blog, as I am in the process of merging the blog with my business website, and moving the business website onto a WordPress platform. That will be in the works for the next couple of weeks. It will be transparent to you the reader, as there will be a forward from this location for a while, but you’ll want to take note of the new address when you see the change.

It also means that there could be a “posting” gap for the blog in the next 12-14 days, so there may be a brief period of radio silence while the transition happens. In the meantime, if you would, I’d love to hear about topics you’d like to have discussed here on the blog, areas of interest to you, etc. Please, when you get a moment, hit me here with those interests –

In the meantime, besides a note here on the blog about your interests/thoughts/questions, here’s a little homework assignment: what is your biggest workplace pet peeve? What behavior or issue makes you the craziest at work in regards to what co-workers or clients or bosses do or don’t do? And do you see a connection between that and your preferences? I’d love to hear about it! Do some Emergenetics analysis on yourself and hit me back here!

See you, if not sooner, in a week, 10 days, something in there, on my brand-new blog and business site location.

Who Makes You Scratchy? The Preference You’re Missing, and NEED

5 05 2011

I’m not green/structural in my thinking. If you look at my profile on this blog you’ll see that I measure at 2% green. If you compared the thinking preferences in my brain to a small dinner party, with yellow and red at the table, my green would be ordering take-out at the Chinese restaurant down the street. I just don’t think in green, not in my natural self.

Sure, I can do a little green. I balance my own checkbook, do my own filing (although believe me, there WILL be a savvy administrative assistant one day in my world with green aplenty!), sort my quarterly taxes, etc. I’ve learned some competencies – I had to, like most adults who don’t think in a particular part of the brain. But it is very easy for me to get “scratchy” (a term I picked up from one of my fellow Emergenetics Trainers years ago) when I have to do much time in green/structural thinking.

That same thing goes for when I’m AROUND green/structural thinking. I have wonderful greenish friends and colleagues, and they are lifesavers. When I’m smart (and, all humility aside, that is increasingly the case when it comes to this subject) I collaborate with my green homies. They help parse out the details, bring some semblence of order to my world, drive a little practical thinking on my projects.

But they are so GREEN! Argh! They want to move methodically through a discussion. They don’t get my metaphors or examples sometimes. They get hung up on what I think are small details like the use of this or that word as I’m nattering on excitedly about an idea I have. They don’t follow my leaping, non-linear story-telling very well. They get frustrated with me, and I with them.

Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them, and Step Slowly Away From the Details…

So, for a very long time (almost always before I learned about Emergenetics, and for way too long after that) I tended to essentially shut them down, even drive them away. Sure, they were still my friends. But I often dismissed their counsel/suggestions. I found myself struggling to listen to them when they were trying to explain something to me in their linear, careful way. I would get irritated or even mad when they would stop me mid-sentence to clarify a word that they didn’t understand, when all I was trying to do was outline an idea or cool thing I’d learned.

And I sure as HECK didn’t want to grind through their seemingly (to me) endless concerns about details, organization and doing it right the first time. Please! Things will sort themselves out, life is one big experiment, and organization is for people with too much time on their hands! Not that I usually said any of that – I’m not Mr. Assertive and I’m too red/social to say those things aloud (unless I’m stressed or tired.)

When I look back across my life I see how often I did this. I also see how much smart thinking and good help I closed down as a result. It wasn’t intentional – it was very reactive – but that doesn’t change what I lost out on because of that reactive pushing away.

It Ain’t Just Me Marge!

It would be different if it was just something I alone did, this driving away of a preference that makes me scratchy. But 8+ years of working with this tool in my role as a consultant has taught me differently. In the blog post before my last one I mentioned the tendencies of teams to overlook a preference, in that case green as well. I see people and teams all the time, usually without any consciousness of their behavior, shutting down and driving away the very people that can help them. They do that because those people make them scratchy.

I have been a very lucky man in my life. One of the great pieces of luck I’ve had is in the form of three friends of mine – Bob, Dale and Josephine. These three excellent friends and colleagues all either lead in green/structural thinking, or have it in large measure. And together they helped me understand what I had learned academically from Emergenetics – i.e., that when I work collaboratively with green, I’m smarter, more effective and more productive.

As they will testify I didn’t make it easy. I made them crazy sometimes. In case it isn’t clear from these blog writings it can be very challenging to face into the needs/demands/styles of a preference we don’t have (and we don’t get.) And the worst part is we’re rarely conscious that we’re doing this driving away/shutting down behavior.

What’s It Gonna Take?

If I could say there is one single suggestion I have for the vast majority of my current and past clients it would be simply this: you need to be working with Whole Brain teams. It is a good bet that you are not listening to at least one of the thinking preferences, and that lack is seriously crippling your efforts. Nobody likes hearing this, and most people have a plethora of reasons why they don’t, but the bottom-line is at least one preference makes them very scratchy, so they avoid those people. Bad idea. Really, really bad idea.

Here are some recommendations for working with preferences you don’t have:

1) Get clear on what you don’t think in naturally. No-brainer, this one. Most of you have taken the Emergenetics profile, but if you haven’t, call me! If you have, take a minute and review your profile. Where do you tend to not go in your thinking? Better still, which is your least thinking preference? Whatever is smallest is usually the one that makes you scratchiest.

2) Identify people in your universe/work group/office who DO work in that preference. Who among those people are folks you can work with, collaborate with? Chances are there is at least one person with the preference you’re missing who is a potential collaborator for you. If you’re a small Senior Management Team chances are very good that you’re missing a preference, and you may need to hire someone, or promote someone. At the very least you NEED that missing preference as a real advisor, someone you can run plans/ideas/projects past, and get their feedback.

3) In particular note where that feedback tells you that you are skipping over things you don’t like, or items you don’t want to attend to because they are tedious/boring/stupid to you. In other words, get their help in making you HONEST about what you’re doing and not doing. Stop the rationalization, the avoidance and the explaining away, and look at your blind spots.

4) Either develop ways for YOU to do that preference tasks in ways that work for you, or delegate those tasks AND then respect the input/feedback that you get from the person you’ve made that delegate. If you’re a solo worker like me then the first makes more sense, although it is also very useful to get suggestions from your missing preference friends/colleagues. If you’re a manager or Senior Leader the second suggestion makes WAY more sense.

5) Create a communication atmosphere of brutal honesty. People want to help you, but you have to be able to take constructive criticism and honest feedback without shutting those people down or punishing them for having the nerve to tell you what you need to know. Painful at the start, enormously profitable for you and your team in a very short while.

Hey, This Isn’t Rocket Science!

(Although I’m guessing a LOT of rocket scientists have these issues too…) But I can tell you it is very hard for most of us to get candid with ourselves and others about facing these blind spots, these preferences that make us scratchy. And hey, if you need help with this, call me! It may not be rocket science, but it takes some practice, thinking and effort to make it work…

Next up – what the advantages are for an individual when they don’t have red/social thinking in their personal arsenal…

The Creative Process – an Interview With Cindy Morefield

28 04 2011

I have the pleasure and honor this week of having as my first-ever interview guest my friend and colleague Cindy Morefield, the creator of CreateStrong. I first met Cindy through a wacky mutual acquaintance, her sister-in-law and my my oldest friend Laura Morefield. Cindy is an avid student and scholar of the creative process, and she has by her own confession found much that is useful in Emergenetics as she has developed her thinking (and, now, her business) on helping people kick-start and enhance their own creative efforts.

One of the things that’s hugely useful for me in Cindy’s thinking/work is her distinction between how most of us “do” our work as problem-solvers rather than tackling them with a creative mind-set. Let me STRONGLY encourage you to take the time to listen to this interview (and, if you’re yellow like me and easily distracted, download it so you can listen to it when it works for you!)

Cindy is one of the people in my life who has really made Emergenetics a study, and she grasps the concepts and the application beautifully. So, without further ado, here’s the interview, a picture of Cindy and a sample of the creative work she does as as visual artist. But be clear about this – creating is for EVERYONE, regardless of your thinking/behavioral preferences, and she’s the person to help you understand that!

Reservoir 2, acrylic, charcoal, ink & metal leaf on panel, (c) 2010 Cynthia L Morefield

Here is the picture of Cindy - obviously...

Here’s the Interview:

Here’s her site:

Working in a Team Without Green – The Dangers of Missing a Thinking Preference

22 04 2011

As you may remember I did a post a while back on the advantages of not having green – being “unencumbered” by green/structural thinking. There’s no question that this can be useful as an individual contributor to a group or team – it is brilliant to have the perspective of someone who isn’t framing the world in a greenish way. (Just as it is brilliant, crucial to have someone who IS framing the world through a structural view.)

But while that is something to respect and use from an individual level the consequences are very different from the perspective of working in a team that doesn’t access green at all. This gets more important the higher you go in the hierarchy of a company, where the consequences of not talking to green get progressively more significant.

This is even more important to consider given a very interesting issue I’ve seen in my eight years of consulting, namely, that teams very often (so often I’ll say it is usually the case) drive away one of the preferences in their team. For example, a team dominated by left-brain (blue and green) preference possessors often drives away either yellow or red. I have seen a similar problem with several of my abstract (yellow/blue, blue/yellow) clients – in their cases they have trampled on and cast out the green that was in their midst.

Why? It isn’t hard to figure out. Not really understanding the minority presence in their group, bugged by the concerns and thinking that this preference brings to the table that they don’t understand (take your pick), wanting to NOT work in that part of the brain if they can avoid it, they wind up shutting that preference down, dismissing the folks with that preference, avoiding dealing with it, and even patronizing the folks that work in that preference. And who wants to stay around for any of that?

It’s Not Easy Being Green…

The structural or green thinking preference wants to organize the details – organize the world. The great strengths of green derive from this interest/focus. The details matter to green, matter in ways that the other thinking preferences just don’t get, and can’t bring themselves to care about in the same way that green/structural thinking does. Green wants to sort things out, make sense of things, and put things in order. It wants to make sure that things are getting done right, which means preparing thoroughly and carefully before starting them.

This means asking the questions that the other preferences tend to skip over, or not think of at all. How will we afford this? How many man-hours are needed? In what sequence do you want these things done? Are the policies and procedures clear? Will we get this done on time? When the heck is the deadline? In the absence of good information or guidelines the structural preference’s tendency is to slow down, figure out what they don’t know, before they spring into action.

The rest of the preferences can get pretty seriously scratchy when green starts asking these questions and insisting on the answers. Blue, already feeling like most things take WAY too long, finds no joy in lingering over the details once they’ve identified the goals. The goals should be sufficient, right? And of course the answer is often NO – the goals are often not enough to get you where you want to go. Yellow finds the details and the organizing tedious and restrictive, and often hears the greenish questions as criticisms of their still-forming ideas. Red (without green, obviously) doesn’t really understand what the problem is – we’ll figure it out together, right?

What Are These Risks of Not Having Green You Speak of?

So what happens when you don’t have green or, having it, don’t listen to it? This obviously varies depending on the preference mix of the people in a particular group or team. For an example let’s take a team that bias into yellow and blue – a combination, btw, that I see a great deal in Senior Teams:

1) These groups tend to do a LOT of brainstorming, planning, setting strategic goals, and they keep on doing that – because that is what abstract (blue/yellow, yellow/blue) teams LIKE doing. When it comes time however to drill down into concrete steps, action plans and implementation, things get a lot less interesting… so those teams find themselves avoiding those tasks, or suffering through them as briefly as possible, before they return to the stuff that interests them. I have seen this on a regular basis for the last eight years. As a result the work suffers, timelines don’t get met, work gets done at the last minute, etc., and a host of problems continue to dog these teams.

2) These groups tend to overlook key details. Green wants to get a clear map before they proceed, and so they look to sort things out and make sure they’ve got their ducks in a row (as mentioned earlier.) Abstract teams like to work on the fly – partly because it is more interesting to them, partly because they are often good/skillful at it. That’s great – until it isn’t. Even the inclination of green to want to move slower, even briefly, can be a huge asset to an abstract team on the run…

3) These groups tend to change their minds again and again, changing goals, changing direction, changing priorities, etc. As a result implementation is difficult to achieve, because the focus keeps changing! And of course this makes those greenish staff folks they are depending on to do the actual work crazed, frustrated and distracted by all the projects they’ve started but are not allowed to finish.

4) To make matters worse abstract teams often have a hard time driving good, detailed direction to their concrete (green/red, red/green) staff members. Part of the problem is that they don’t THINK in that way – they tend to sketch in broad strokes and big goals, not in detailed marching orders. Which is exactly what green is looking for, needs to have to execute brilliantly and effectively. (This isn’t to say that green can’t create to a large extent their own marching orders. But if the work is new, if the goals have changed, or if they’re unclear about how to proceed, green will look for clear direction – remember, they want to get it RIGHT.)

I Could Go On, But…

That’s a handful of issues that an abstract team, just one combination of preferences, that suffers without green at their side. And guess what? NONE of it is necessary! A good green/structural advisor/cohort/peer can do wonders to negate these problems. I’m not saying in this little cautionary tale that green should be the final word, any more than any of the thinking preferences should always win the debate.

Emergenetics call this WE Teams. Ned Herrmann called this Whole Brains. You pick the term. The point is you want ALL the preferences at the table, engaged in the discussion, respected for what they bring to the work, and not excluded because they think in ways that make one or another person/preference uncomfortable.

This requires a little more work up front than a lot of teams make time for in their day. It means practice solid listening skills – i.e., paraphrasing back what people are saying around complex or difficult topics, to make sure that communication is clear and useful. It means practicing a little more awareness of our own preference bias, and not letting that bias reflexively shut down communication we find uncomfortable or disinteresting. It means letting the debate go on long enough to clarify the issues, and then making the best decisions possible based on what you’ve learned in that debate – not closing down that debate because you’ve already decided what’s best. It means skillful communication and real tolerance for dissention.

But that upfront work means enormous payoffs later. And it can help a team avoid a great deal of unnecessary problems and wasted time. Not to mention what it can do for the company’s financial bottom-line…

Next up… well, I have no idea what’s next up. I have about 12 different topics I want to tackle, but I’ll probably wrap up the “Dark Side” discussion of red before I head off into any of those interesting discussions. Love to hear your feedback on this post about the need for green in teams!

The Dark Side of Red – Part II

15 04 2011

In my last post about the Dark Side of the Red/Social Preference I warned against the temptation of confusing empathy with certain knowledge, of deciding that because it’s possible to read someone’s feelings (at least some of the time) it isn’t then wise to infer WHAT those feelings are based on, WHY they are feeling that way.

Permit me to remind you that this potential blind spot in reddish thinking springs from their strengths – like just about all of the “Dark Side “ issues that the various preferences can generate if we’re not careful. There’s another blind spot concern that can spring from the strengths of red – a tendency to put relationship maintenance before any other concern.

The “Ping” of Red

Some years ago in my work with Emergenetics my friend Dale and I evolved a term for a central behavior of us red/social preference possessors. That behavior is a very natural effort on the part of this thinking preference to check in with people and confirm an “all’s well” status with that relationship.

It looks like this: I see you, say, in the breakroom at work. I haven’t seen you yet this morning, so I greet you in some red fashion – a warm hello, perhaps, or just an appraising look and a head nod. But make no mistake – however cool I may be working to be, I’m monitoring you for the response you give to my greeting. I’m (metaphorically) sending out a kind of radar or sonar “ping”, looking to see what kind of return I get from you. What is our status, I’m wondering, usually unconsciously…

If I get a warm hello back, I’m golden. If I get a grin and a head nod, I’m good too. If, however, I get a muddy “ping” back, well, that’s when I risk running into trouble. What defines muddy? Muddy is anything that doesn’t send a clear non-verbal message that all is well. It might be silence, or a grunt, or a curt “fine”, or anything I’m not reading as a solid “ping”. Given my tendency to trust the non-verbal information in communication over verbal I can find myself suspecting that something is sideways with you (or, like we discussed in my last post, something is sideways between us), and I will want to fix whatever is wrong.

It’s About the Relationship, the Relationship!

Blue is at their best when they are able to do analysis, parse out the key issues, and make decisions. They are in their flow, so to speak. Green is at their best when they are able to process information carefully and thoroughly, sort order from chaos, and move methodically through implementation. Yellow is in its music when there is room to brainstorm, ideate, experiment and play with the world around it.

And Red is in their groove when all is well relationally. When we are good – i.e., when I judge that you and I are fine relationally – then I’m free and clear to navigate. People often accuse the red preference possessors of being fragile, or touchy-feely, or squishy. This simply isn’t true – IF I know that we’re good. Red can be as business-focused, down-to-earth and practical as any left-brain preference (blue or green) IF we’re solid.

But if I’m not getting that non-verbal confirmation I can begin to feel the pull of the Dark Side of the preferences. I can begin to focus on what I perceive is the need to repair whatever is wrong, and that starts by first determining what is wrong. I may start a kind of interrogation of you, gently (or relentlessly!) grilling you on what’s going on, is everything OK, can I help with anything, would you like a donut or massage or $100,000? And I will be tempted to keep at this as long as I’m not getting a clear return on my “pinging” of you…

And all of that is an attempt to confirm that you and I are good, that this relationship is OK.

This Explains Why Sometimes Non-Red Preferences Want to Beat Red Senseless…

What we who live in the Red/Social preference fail to consider in these moments is that just because WE live in the non-verbals doesn’t mean that everyone else does as well. A lack of emotional response on the part of another person doesn’t automatically signal that anything is wrong, in general or with this relationship in particular. It often just means that the person is focused, or thinking, or whatever.

In other words, it often doesn’t mean ANYTHING. And our (yes, my friends, I also have fallen prey to this Dark Side issue) sometimes relentless digging to find out what’s wrong (from our reading of that lack of a clear non-verbal response) can make other folks nuts!

I consider this a great place for us folks with red to practice letting other people tell us if something is wrong – let them take responsibility for their feelings. It is not something we come to naturally, this letting other people take care of themselves. It is in our DNA to want to help, to assist, to comfort, to care for the relationships in our lives. But, ironically, we often do a better job of relational maintenance when we leave people alone.

This doesn’t mean we can’t be concerned. This doesn’t mean that we can’t extend an offer to help if we get good information something is sideways with this person, or between that person and us. But we need to practice the conscious awareness that lots of people don’t live in the non-verbals, especially the green and blue preferences.

I Love You Man – Now Leave Me Alone

Sometimes the best thing we can for this relationship is to leave our friend/colleague/family member ALONE. Sometimes the best thing we can do is NOT read anything into the muddy response (muddy at least to us.) Sometimes the best thing we can do is assume that this other person is just fine, and they will let us know if they need something from us, or if there is a problem between us.

Ugh, we who live in red say – our non-verbal detectors are sending red alert signals – how can we NOT try to figure out what’s wrong? It definitely takes a little practice. It helps to apply your own knowledge of Emergenetics. If you’re like most people you’re doing some “virtual” profiling in your personal universe, and you probably have some idea of this person’s lead thinking preference at a minimum (assuming you don’t have their profile information handy.)

If this person isn’t red you’re probably more than safe assuming that everything is just fine, regardless of the results of your “pinging”. Let’s leave them alone! It will be OK. Really. In fact you’ll probably help the relationship you’re concerned about! This is one of the big scratchy points between red and the left-brain preferences. The blue and green in your universe will relax around you, and if they’re conscious of the change, probably even thank you for it. (It might be in the form of a sarcastic comment, but they’ll still thank you.)

Don’t take my word for this – take it for a test drive. See what happens (ye who share my redness) when you take the chance of not “pinging” the folks in your lives. It isn’t easy for us. But frankly we can use the practice NOT focusing on potential relationship issues, and letting people take care of themselves. We can keep that energy for other things. Repeating – it does take practice, practice and conscious thought. But its worth it…

Next up – the last in my current series of Dark Side issues for the Red/Social preference.

The Dark Side of Red – Part I

8 04 2011

Thanks for the feedback, Ye My Blog Readers, on the posts about the Dark Side of Blue and life unencumbered by Green. I appreciate as always your feedback. I’m going to start a riff here about the Dark Side issues of the Red/Social Preference. As a red preference possessor myself I can say with confidence that this is the preference with no flaws whatsoever… OK, that’s not true. We might have one or two blind spots…

To do this discussion well I need to begin with a review of the basic strengths of the red part of the brain. This is the preference that dwells on relationship development and maintenance – that’s the bottom-line for this thinking preference. Most of red’s other strengths (I would argue) stem from this particular focus. Let me make that stronger – to live in red often means that our thinking is centered on relationships. This is the reason I usually call this the relational preference (as opposed to the label of “social” that Emergenetics uses.)

The Powers of Red

To do what they do so well, support and grow relationships, requires that they be attentive to the non-verbal data all around us – eye contact, body posture, tone of voice, interpersonal space use, etc. They then use this data as a way to read both how a person is feeling and the status of the relationship between themselves and that person. And, like blue with logic and decisions, the red/social preference can get very skillful at reading moods and relational status. This makes them (as the Emergenetics model says) both empathetic and sympathetic.

These folks are people who think when they talk. They can process very quickly if allowed to verbalize for even a few moments. And doesn’t this make sense? In red life is about people, so of course they naturally lean to talk as a thinking tool. As a result they tend towards group collaboration and team projects – it just feels natural to them. They tend also to be cheerleaders and morale monitors, knowing that when the team is happy they are better focused and more productive.

(And of course this means that we can blame red for the invention of meetings, as I often say in my trainings. What’s more useful than getting your 30 closest friends or colleagues to think out loud?)

Red is also very concerned with fairness and equality. Relationships by their nature are supposed to be between equals in the mind of the Social/Relational preference holder, and if we are in relationship than I stand with you, and want what is fair for you – as well as want the same from you. It’s fine if you want to call yourself my supervisor or boss – knock yourself out. But we still need to treat as peers, whatever our work relationship – and that has to include respect and some sense of me as a person – if you want my best work and best thinking.

They are, in other words, very tuned in to the relationships around them. That’s the burning center of their thinking, whether or not they are aware of it. They want those relationships to grow and thrive, and they give energy to that work.

That’s the Good News…

As I said at the start of this post, what could possibly be the Dark Side of these remarkable strengths? (My blue and green preference readers are already offering commentary – I can hear it from here…) One of those potential Achilles’ heels for red starts in the tracking of the non-verbal data, and the inferring of what that data is saying about the particular relationship that red preference is examining. The challenge lies in separating (in the mind of the red preference person) what the non-verbal information can tell us from what we INFER it is telling us…

If this part of the brain is all about relationship, and folks who work in red are reading the non-verbals, then it is a very easy leap to assume that negative or troubling non-verbal messages mean that there is something askew with MY relationship with you.

Of course the problem is that the information that comes through non-verbal communication (tone of voice, eye contact, gestures, body posture, etc.) doesn’t communicate WHY I’m feeling a certain way – just HOW I’m feeling. The data is “fuzzy”. But that doesn’t slow us red preferences from leaping to conclusions anyway, and especially when we’re not thinking about our responses, or are tired, or stressed, or already worried about this particular relationship.

Red Alert! Red Alert!

So I’m walking down the hall at work and I see you, and of course I wave hello and give you a smile, or say “hey, how’s it going?” And I (as a red preference) am (usually unconsciously) scanning you for both how you’re feeling, and for how we are as a connection. If you wave back and give me a grin, or if you say “good homie – how are you?” then we’re golden. Even if you nod and say just “hey” I’m probably good, unless you’re wearing sackcloth or sharpening a short sword at your desk.

But if the response is muddy to me – if I’m getting a sense that you’re bugged, scratchy, irritated, sad, or angry – then my relational sensors go to full alert. It might be as subtle as a down note in your voice, or a terse response, or maybe even no response at all. What’s wrong, I’m wondering, again mostly unconsciously. I’m reacting before I’m even aware of it. And, if I’m not careful, I’m assuming there’s something wrong between us.

UGH, my blue and green preferences are shouting! Because they have ALL been through it – the concerned red preference pinging them relentlessly, trying to determine what’s wrong, and trying to fix whatever the problem is at the same time (invited or not!)

Now this doesn’t mean that there isn’t something wrong. Maybe the terse response really does signal that your day isn’t going so well. Maybe you’re mad as hell. Maybe you didn’t eat your Wheaties this morning. The point is the Dark Side surfaces when I assume that there is something wrong between us, and/or that I’m somehow responsible to make whatever is wrong right for you.

Don’t Go There Man…

It has taken both the information that the Emergenetics Tool has to provide and some practice to overcome this behavior in my own life. I think of all the energy, time and stress I piled on myself on the simple assumption that your non-verbal messages somehow applied to me and our relationship. Sure, sometimes I was spot-on – there was something amiss between me and my friend/romantic relationship/co-worker/boss/postal worker.

But often I’ve been wrong, and I have made both myself and my friend/etc. crazed. And this doesn’t count the endless hours of lifespan I’ve handed away worrying/stressing/obsessing over the perceived problem because I either wasn’t comfortable just ASKING you if everything was OK, or because for whatever reason I couldn’t check in with you at that moment.

Neither is useful, most of the time. I don’t need to make you and I crazy, and I don’t need to hand anything like that kind of energy and time away. Here are some better options:

1) LET IT GO. Just because it FEELS like something is wrong doesn’t mean there is. And unless you’re bleeding from an open wound, maybe it is OK to let you manage your own life, and trust that you’ll ask for assistance from me if you want it.

2) Ask you, and if you say you’re fine, again, let it go.

3) Question my assumptions. Is it automatically about you and I, or is it because you’re fighting indigestion? Or maybe you just remembered the iron is on at home? Or are you thinking about that date you botched last night? (Better not go there – now I’m really going to need to ask you if you’re OK…) In other words – my assumptions are just that. I don’t KNOW what’s going on with you. Empathy doesn’t equal telepathy – something that is very hard for us red preferences to get sometimes.

Not Letting a Strength Turn Into a Blind Spot

Red/social preference possessors are good emotion readers, and we get better the longer we know you. If we’re sensing a feeling chances are good that you are feeling something like that. What we don’t know is why. A little conscious thought can stop this strength from sliding into the Dark Side… and besides, you’ll have blue and green preferences asking for your hand in marriage if you’ll just leave them alone…

Next up – more on the Dark Side of the Red/Social Preference.

The Joys of NOT having an Emergenetics Preference – Life Without Green

28 03 2011

OK, so I told you last time I was going to start a discussion of the Dark Side of the Red Preference. And I will do that – next post. But I’m itchin’ to get today’s post up and commented on, so we’re taking a brief side-trip. This will be the first of several posts looking at what it means to NOT have a particular preference, thinking and behavioral. Look for the Dark Side of Red discussion to begin after this post! In the meantime…

I have started some new thinking in the last year or so around the nature of the Emergenetics Profile (newish for me, anyway.) That thinking consists of what a person’s profile is like when they don’t have one or another Emergenetics thinking preference.

So, for instance, I am a yellow/conceptual lead with a strong red chaser, 44% yellow and 37% red. (See my profile on this blog.) Emergenetics tells us that 23% is the semi-hard floor/baseline at which a particular thinking preference becomes a regular participant in a person’s thinking. So, at 44% yellow and 37% it is a no-brainer (no pun intended!) that I am a right-brain preference kinda guy. Yellow and red (leaving out for the moment any acquired skill sets in working in green and blue) tend to run my show.

But Wait, There’s More

The thinking preferences part of my profile finishes up with a 17% blue/analytic and 2% green/structural pair of left-brain measures. In other words, blue is making some noise in the back of my skull (again, according to standard Emergenetics doctrine) and green is someplace on vacation in the Hawaiian Islands. I can get ahold of my green preference by cell phone, metaphorically speaking, but we don’t talk on a regular basis.

Another way to say this is that I am unencumbered by blue and green, and especially green. I really like the choice of the word unencumbered. I looked up encumber in the dictionary, and here is what it says: “1. To impede or hinder; hamper… 3. To burden or weigh down.” It is VERY interesting to me to read those definitions. (Who knew that when you read the Mind Colors blog today you’d also get a vocabulary builder opportunity?)

It is interesting to me because an important part of having the Emergenetics profile I have is this NOT having green as a regular conversation partner in my thinking. Don’t get me wrong. Green is a brilliant thinking preference, and I have spent serious time on this blog singing its praises. Green is the get-‘er-done preference, the Bring Order out of Chaos Preference, the voice of take-it-slow and do-it-right thinking – and thank heaven for all of that. When I next visit my neuro-surgeon or drive past my local nuclear power plant I’m going to offer silent thanks for the green preferences running around in the world!

Yet, as Much as I Love Green…

Nevertheless, even with all that green brings to the table, there are distinct advantages to being a right-brain preference person without green. Bear with me for a moment with this discussion, ye green preferences. Green is all about organizing the data in the world they live in – creating a map, if you will, where everything has a place (more or less) and where organization reigns supreme. (This is green in its purest form, free from other preferences, of course.) Things need to make SENSE for green. And things need to have some linear order or flow – they need to move in sequence – yet another strength of the structural preference.

But that isn’t at all how the right brain thinks! No, we right-brainers like our worlds nice and messy. We like the sense of things swirling around in our skulls, of ideas and concepts and conversations and pictures all in motion in our brains. We get squirrely when we (or anyone) tries to impose too much organization on our thinking or on our daily routine. Because there is an alchemy, a fierce kind of energy and creativity in that lack of linear thinking, that feeds our ideas and our experimenting with concepts. And don’t forget that we are all about ideas and new thinking, we who dwell in the right brain.

In other words, we are unencumbered by green. There are other aspects of this being green-free in the right brain. One of the things that green wants to know is HOW we’re going to do something. Do we have enough money? Do we have enough man-power? What’s the schedule? What comes first? Will there be enough widgets or staples or whatever we need to complete this project? Great questions, and ones that have to be asked if we want to actually get it done…

Yellow and red, however, find themselves unconcerned with these tedious details! We have a dream, a vision, and it fairly GLOWS with promise and potential. Unencumbered by the need to call the Accounting Department for last quarter’s profit margins or the mailroom for a stamp count, we sit and dream, thinking about how things COULD be. And in the dreaming ideas take shape, grow, mutate and change, and find solidness and clarity in that process. (See my discussions around yellow brain-storming in this blog.)

Unencumbered is GOOD

These right-brain qualities, this lack of regular access to green thinking, can work to the advantage of the yellow/red preference possessors. It also works to the advantage of the people we work with! Here’s an example: a workgroup is directed by their manager to rethink a project timeline and come up with a faster schedule. The green preference folks in the room are immediately confronted with two challenges – 1) they have to re-arrange the current “map” of the schedule (something that will be frustrating and scratchy-making) and they have to speed things up, not something that usually sings to the structural part of the brain.

The yellow/right-brain team members, on the other hand, don’t wrestle with either issue. There are very few (if any) cast-in-concrete schedules in their heads to begin with, and speeding up is, well, just fine with them – that only involves that silly thing called time anyway… OK, not really silly, but it is SO tedious if you don’t live in time the way green (and blue) does. So these folks are free in their own thinking to bust out new options, new ways of framing the problem. And they will experiment, out loud and in their own heads, with those news ideas, growing and mutating them into notions that others can use.

Another advantage to not having green in your brain as a right-brain (yellow/red) person is that you tend to not presuppose what can and can’t be done. Since we are all about the possibilities and the coolness of what could be, we who have no green are free to imagine and wonder about anything. The green/structural strength of starting from a solid frame of assumptions and practical consideration, while hugely useful in some situations, only gets in the way of conceptualizing new ideas and wondering what is possible. Who cares if it isn’t practical? Time enough to worry about that later. Let’s just think about it – let it simmer for a while in our heads and see what it leads to – practical application, potentially later, or maybe just other ideas that could be applied.

Nice, eh? There really is something to this notion that being unencumbered by a particular thinking or behavioral preference as something useful, even beneficial. We’re NOT knocking green here! Green is BRILLIANT – it the proper context. The same can be said for yellow, and will be said in a later post around this notion of having an advantage in NOT having a particular thinking or behavioral preference.

Love to hear your comments and feedback on this post, and, as promised, back to the Dark Side discussions next post.