Orderly Ducks in a Row or Spontaneous Chaos – Which Do You Prefer?

I am a very “ducks in a row” kind of person.  I like things to be planned in advance, I can’t live without my calendar in Outlook, I can get anxious if plans are changed at the last minute or if things pop up that I haven’t been previously told about.  I even am seriously considering creating an Excel database of my blog posts so that I can track the different topics I’ve covered, quotes I’ve used and what’s been posted when.  And yes, my husband is extremely understanding of what he sees as my ‘psycho tendencies’ – his words, not mine!

In “How to Measure a Personality?” I introduced one of the great tools of NLP – Meta Programs – the conversational personality profile that you can use to learn about a person’s model of the world.  The Meta Program filter that determines how people adapt to their environment is known as the Temporal Operator or the Adaptive Response.  It provides you with a suggestion on whether someone aims to understand life and adapt to it (a Perceiver) or whether they prefer a decisive, planned and regulated way of life, that aims to regulate and control events, i.e. they make life adapt to them (a Judger).  After my description above, I assume you can guess which end of the scale I’m on.

It’s useful to understand someone’s preferences so you can adapt your behaviour and communication accordingly and to help you predict their behaviour, actions or reactions.  In business you might adapt your closing style to win the business to fit the individual customer.  For example, a Judger needs things to be planned, they love lists and they have a high need for closure – so you can use those to move them to a swift decision.  In contrast a Perceiver will avoid making a decision for as long as possible, so you can use that to show them that even by making a decision, they’ll still be maintaining their flexibility and keeping their options open!  

There’s a whole selection of questions you could ask someone to elicit information on this filter, for example, “If we were going to do a project together would you prefer that it were outlined, planned and orderly or would you prefer that we were flexible in the project?”  or simply “Do you have a calendar that you use regularly; do you like to use it?”.  But my favorite is “Why did you buy your last car?”  A Judger will start listing the chronological events that led up to the purchase of the car, while a Perceiver will start listing their criteria for buying the car – what make it was, what colour it was, perhaps what it cost etc.

A person at the Perceiver end of the scale will tend to adapt more and stay away from closure, as finishing or deciding anything could limit their options.  They like the flexibility and openness of not having made a decision yet.  My husband is a good case in point.  You’ll think he’s made a decision on something and he’ll then need to revisit it 3 times before you get to a real decision as making a final decision could limit his options.  Perceivers want to just let life happen, take life as it comes and to live in the moment.  They prefer to live in a spontaneous, impulsive, flexible way and tend to be open to change.  Perceivers are not enthusiastic about lists, schedules, calendars or deadlines.  They can be reading 3 or 4 books at a time and actually won’t complete any of them.  Perceiver characteristics seem to correlate with being ‘right brained’.

A person at the Judger end of the scale will make plans and lists and live in a decisive, orderly way.  They have a high need for closure and can get anxious if they can’t finish something, post their blog on time or if a decision is not forthcoming.  They can plan to the minute months or even years in advance and I get really frustrated when someone has said they’ll send an invite for a meeting and then it doesn’t appear.  I want to get it settled and in my calendar!  Judgers are challenged in situations where there is no plan and for goodness sake don’t tell them you’re going to give them 4 things they can do to get success and only give them 3.  How to wind them up in one easy lesson!  Judger characteristics seem to correlate with being ‘left brained’.

But let’s remember.  Everyone is an individual and nobody fits in a single box or is 100% anything – it’s all a sliding scale.  Where you are on that scale will depend on the type of situation – you could react totally differently in work situation, compared to a home situation with your family.  There are benefits and challenges wherever you are on the scale – the skill is to understand them and make the most of the advantages while acknowledging and compensating for the disadvantages.  By understanding these preferences in yourself, and in those around you, you will be able to communicate most effectively, manage your internal state and be flexible in your behaviour to maximise your results.  

© Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and NLP THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


2 responses to “Orderly Ducks in a Row or Spontaneous Chaos – Which Do You Prefer?

  1. Pingback: The Internet Doesn’t Surf Itself | NLP THIRTEEN

  2. Pingback: Five Sides of a Circle | NLP THIRTEEN

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