Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My secret is out

At the Pursuit of Excellence seminar this past weekend, we did a module that helped each of us to identify our communication style (which is akin to personality type). My results shocked me. They claimed that I was a Controller. As the name suggests, it's at the dominant end of the spectrum.

A Controller!!! To me that term spans the water front, all the way from control freak to megalomaniac dictator. Yikes!!! That's not who I am! I am a nurturing, supportive person, right?

I guess my denial stemmed from the fact that I had witnessed the misuse of power. When power had been employed destructively, people whom I loved and I myself had suffered -- either because we lacked the skills to assert ourselves or because we simply had been too little to defend ourselves. Consequently I regarded power as evil.

Our Pursuit of Excellence instructor said that it was important to fulfill our driving needs and to acknowledge our personality types. She said that, if our needs went unmet and/or our personalities went unrecognized, they would leak out in destructive ways. Often they were the source of addictions and other self-defeating behaviours.

Conversely, if we fulfilled our driving needs and recognized our personality types, we could harness their energy constructively. In that case, they were gifts.

Today I told a friend about this additional Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO). She was someone who had been telling me for months that I had leadership qualities, but I had discounted her opinion. When I shared my BFO, she said, "Hallelujah!"

My friend went on to say that she thought that my continuing education was instrumental in my gaining this insight. She said that, because I had witnessed abuse and because I lacked confidence in my ability to exercise leadership for the benefit of all, my subconscious mind had protected me from the knowledge that I had leadership qualities. But my workshops have been building my capacity. She referred to the seminars I had taken -- conflict resolution, consensus decision making, and the Pursuit of Excellencer. In her opinion, my subconscious mind must have assessed my growing skill set, concluded that I would be able to handle power, and then let me see that I had it. I thought that was an interesting insight on her part.

In any event, now that I've recovered from the shock, I feel liberated.


Mog said...

People without control need those who do.

You are a benevolent controller!

Me, I'm just a controller, do it my way or I sulk kind of controller.....

Krista said...

I'm chuckling here at your humorous approach to being labeled a "controller". I enjoy your sense of wit that often comes out in your writing :)

I am wondering if you are finding the principles of TPOE ever conflict with the principles of NVC?

Speaking initial reactions only here, when I hear anyone defined as a "type" of any kind, my alarm bells go up. I think I am really sensitive to definitions, I get scared and start thinking "well, if I'm that, then I guess I have to live up to those expectations...?" or worse "well, if I'm that, then I guess I can't be any other way?" and worst of all "but I don't like that label at all!"....

After the initial reaction, I begin to wonder.... is there a way to reframe the idea of someone being called "a controller" in a way that I can understand better?

If I reframe it in NVC, I can easily see how a need to "control" can be redefined into "real" needs: a need to see change, a need to contribute, need to matter, need for security, safety, stability, a need for acknowledgment, a need for organization and order and possibly predictability....

I feel better about that. I know we all share those needs and can relate.

Do you feel the same way when you hear people being labeled or defined?

I like Rosenberg's idea that, in NVC, there is no verb "to be". No one is any one thing, at any one time, we are always changing as our needs and feelings change.

Can you contact me at and I can give you more info about the NVC group that you were requesting? Thanks, Judy!!

MidnightCafe said...

"Control" is a bit of an unfortunate word choice. Lots of negative connotations for most of us. I like what Krista said about reframing it in terms of needs. I'd probably reframe it to say something about leadership and the ability to organize and take action.

I like your approach, though, and the way you're framing this for yourself.

Judy Roberts said...

Thank you all for your comments. I started to comment on your comments, but my comment on your comments grew so long that I thought it deserved to be a blog post in its own right. :-)

Thank you for giving me your e-mail address, Krista. I am about to e-mail you right now.