By , April 28, 2008 6:58 pm


Within this strand on Interpersonal Focusing, I am going to place the emphasis upon Personality Style Instruments, coupled with Empathic, Focused Listening, as a method for Diversity Training within organizations.

Listening/Focusing Turns To Increase Empathy

Besides educational material and workshop experiences typical of Diversity Training workshops, Round-Robin Listening/Focusing partnership turns in small groups can provide a safe place for co-workers to come to understand each other’s experience.

As Intuitive Focuser, one person “senses into” and articulates their experience in terms of ageism, sexism, racism, or their MBTI or Enneagram style, in a personal way. As empathic Focused Listener, the person next to them uses Focused Listening to “say back,” simply reflecting their understanding of the other’s words, learning to set aside judgment and prejudice and concentrate only on hearing how it is for the other person, their inner world.

Turns can proceed around the circle, each person having 10-20 minutes as Focuser and then as Listener for the next Focuser. Empathic understanding, a deeper form of change than any educational information, is the natural outcome of such exchanges.

Visit my blog Learning Listening/Focusing Partnership and look at the top for link to a free download of Chapter Three from my self-help manual, Focusing in Community (Focusing en Comunidad), which gives explicit instructions for exchanging Listening/Focusing turns. Order the complete Self-Help Package for only $39, including the manual, CDs with Complete Focusing Instructions, and DVD demonstrations of Focused Listening.

Understanding Personality Differences Can Bridge The Gap

We tend to think of Diversity Training as coming to understand “the other side” in terms of gender, ethnic, and age differances. However, exposing co-workers to understandings of differing personality and leadership styles can loosen their prejudices and broaden their appreciation of all kinds of different people.

For instance, while 60-70% of males score as Thinkers on the Myers-Briggs (MBTI), that leaves 30-40% of females who are also Thinkers, having this in common with the opposite gender. Same for the 30-40% of males who score as Feelers on the MBTI — sharing their experience as Feelers can bridge the gender gap.

The goal-oriented, organized Judging type can come to understand the creativity, spontaneity, and playfulness of the Perceiving type whom they have only judged as “irresponsible.” The Extrovert can come to understand the Introvert’s need for quiet escape during lunchtime and after work. Click here for Week One: Myers-Briggs and Keirsey Temperament Sorter for links to informal tests of these dimensions.

The Enneagram: Looking At Your Shadow Side

While the MBTI stresses the positive, our “differing gifts,” The Enneagram also helps us to take a brave look at our shadow side, our personal demon, and the motivations driving us. There are nine basic personality types, refined by degree of interaction with the other types. One author names them as 1.The Reformer, 2.The Helper, 3.The Motivator, 4.The Artist, 5.The Thinker, 6.The Loyalist, 7.The Generalist, 8.The Leader, and 9.The Peacemaker. However, complexities involve leaning toward one”wing” or the other and passing into a different type when ideal vs. under stress, etc.

My favorite new website for great insight into the Enneagram is by Dr. Mary Bast, long-time coach and Enneagram expert. Here is her introductory description from www.breakoutofthebox.com  :

“What is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram is a practical psychological system that describes nine different views of the world. Each of us has a central way to make sense of reality, a set of personality patterns that help us cope but also narrow our perceptions. If you’re not sure which of the nine worldviews is yours, click Personality Test on the right, but take the results of any test as tentative. I can help you confirm your Enneagram style and your blind spots as well as your gifts.”

Her website includes descriptions of the nine personality styles, charts showing the basic needs driving each style, the different variations within each style, and the interaction between them. A free PDF download gives a quick summary along many dimensions derived from a variety of Enneagram theorists.

Bast includes Claudio Naranjo’s naming of the nine styles and their “Driving Force and Development Need,” their “shadow side” in need of transformation.They are:

1. The Idealist: Anger
2. The Mentor: Pride
3. The Star: Vanity
4. The Innovator: Envy
5. The Synthesizer: Hoarding
6. The Partner: Fear of Fear
7. The Futurist: Gluttony
8. The Advocate: Lust/Excess
9. The Diplomat: Indolence

Notice, for instance, that the 9.Diplomat, who may pride themselves on being the ultimate Peacemaker and harmonizer, has a “shadow-side” of Indolence, laziness, lack of engagement in living, loss of self-development in giving over to the opinions of others, not having an “opinion.”

The 8. Advocate, seeing herself as fighting for the rights of all underdogs, has a “shadow side” of Lust/Excess.

Which are you? What is your shadow-side? How about your boss, co-workers, family members?

You can find out at www.breakoutofthebox.com  . Bast includes many case examples from her life-time of coaching experience, showing some light-hearted ways to deal with one’s shadow side. For instance, an 8. Leader, who scares and overwhelms her staff with her overly assertive and confrontive style, is asked to hand out squirt guns to her staff at meetings so they can let her know when she becomes over-bearing.

Descriptive essays, and, best of all for me, poems by many authors help capture the “gist,” the “intuitive feel” of each personality style. Spend an hour or so on her site, and you will find yourself, your family, your coworkers exactly captured.
There are a variety of theorists with somewhat differing “takes” on The Enneagram. Riso’s book, Discover Your Personality Type: The New Enneagram Questionnaire (Houghton Mifflin, 1995) provides a simple description and test for exploring your Enneagram profile. However, Helen Palmer’s work with the Enneagram can lead to somewhat different results. Again, try several tests and see what you learn:
www.enneagramspectrum.com  (free quiz, good articles like “Enneagram Styles As Personality Paradigms”)
www.enneagraminstitute.com  (Riso and Hudson; free and paid tests; lots of info)
www.enneagramworldwide.com  (Palmer; $10 test; lots of info)
www.similarminds.com  (lots of free Enneagram-based informal tests; test combining Enneagram and MBTI)
www.pulsarnet.com/cw  (Great Enneagram Handbook download, showing how each style would “cross a river”; lots on Conscious Relationship as well)
www.breakoutofthebox.com  (Mary Bast’s summaries, case examples and poetry capturing the “intuitive feel” of each style)
Exercise for the week: visit the websites and take several versions of these tests, with friends and family and coworkers if possible, discussing varying personality styles discovered.

Intuitive Focusing Turn On Your Enneagram Style

If you would like, do a Focusing Turn on your “shadow side” and other learnings once you have guessed at your style:

1. Clear a Space: Relax and come into your body by following your breathing.
2. Get A Felt Sense: Ask yourself,” How is this personality style reflected in my life? How does this “Driving Force” manifest in my work and relationships?” Set aside any thinking and wait quietly, for at least a minute, for the “intuitive feel” of “that whole thing” to form in the center of your body, around your heart/chest area.
3. Find A Handle: Slowing look for some words or an image or gesture that exactly capture the “feel of it all.”
4. Resonate and Check: Go back and forth between any symbols that come and the “felt sense,” the “feel of it all,” until the symbols and “felt sense” fit exactly, with a sense of “Ah, yes” and some tension release.
5. Ask An Open-Ended Question: Ask a question like “And why is that so important to me?” or “And where does that come from in me?” or “And how do I feel about that whole thing?” and, again, set aside what you already know and wait quietly, at least for a minute, for the “felt sense,” the murky, unclear Creative Edge to form in your body.
Again Resonate and Check until you find symbols (words, images, gestures) that exactly “fit” the bodily-feel.
6. Receive: Take some time to receive and integrate anything new that has come, appreciating your body for sharing its wisdom, letting new insights settle in.

Then, you can choose whether to stop or begin another round of Focusing: Asking An Open-Ended Question, Letting a Felt Sense Form, Finding a Handle, Checking and Resonating until “Ahah!”, symbols and bodily-feel come together.

See blogs under Category: Conflict Resolution in the sidebar to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)


The site of new insights and creative solutions is at the edge of what is already known. This edge, The Creative Edge, holds implicit within it all past and future knowing about the problem, more than could ever be put into words in a linear way 

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