Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

February 23, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Five — EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:10 am

sheep looking into camera
This post continues the series on adult development and complexity of mind (here are the links for Parts One, Two, Three), and Four), by exploring Carl Jung’s concepts of the midlife development of psychological type. The discussion in Parts Four and Five comes originally from articles by Catherine Fitzgerald, and Gae Walters, in Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002, and has been expanded since my initial Los Alamos Monitor column publication.

 

I overviewed Carl Jung’s psychological type concepts in Part Four of this series. Jung also concluded that the natural preferences that people develop and practice up through the first half of their lives are challenged at midlife (the late thirties and beyond). At that time, the “less developed, less refined, and more unconscious” functions intrude, demanding much more attention.

The person, Jung believed, wants to be more fully developed and may have a need (whether conscious or not) to pursue a search for personal meaning that includes exploring and developing less-used aspects of her personality. An Intuitive type (whose perception relies on insights, patterns and hunches) may be drawn at times to “staying present moment-to-moment in the real world, rather than focusing on associations and the future.” A Feeling type (who makes decisions based on subjective and personal ways of deciding) may separate from others and assert his own interests and needs even when in conflict with others he cares about.

These psychological and emotional demands of midlife often conflict with an individual’s long-standing family and work patterns based on the preferred dimensions which developed through the first half of life. Fitzgerald, in her book Executive Coaching, sees three stages of midlife for executives, which presumably could hold true for any of us: (1) getting inklings of the new reactions and desires (which surprise and disorient); (2) going underground (working on the new reactions and desires privately); and (3) bringing the new, larger self out into the world.

Many of us working in conflict professions see individuals who are undergoing personal, mid-life change that involves them in conflict with others. Jung’s theory tieing such changes to type development can be a useful tool for conflict specialists.

Please go to the new location: http://www.EngagingConflicts.com.

Note: The books mentioned in this post are available at your local libraries and bookstores, of course, but you can also buy them online through my Amazon.com link in the right-hand sidebar at the new location to help support my blogging (and I will appreciate it, if you do!)

Advertisements

February 22, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Four — EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:54 am

sheep looking into camera

This post continues the series on adult development and complexity of mind (here are the links for Parts One, Two, and Three), by exploring Carl Jungs concepts of psychological type. Part Five of the series will explore Jung’s concept of the differences between the first and second halves of life. This discussion comes originally from articles by Catherine Fitzgerald, and Gae Walters, in Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002, and has been expanded since my initial Los Alamos Monitor column publication.

Jungs theory of psychological type describes distinct personality characteristics that can help us understand common differences (and similarities) among people. Jung identified three dimensions of individual personality differences, each with two polar opposites: Extraversion-Introversion, SensingIntuition, and ThinkingFeeling. Jung’s work was later expanded into a tool often used in business and coaching settings to identify these preferences, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator©, which added a fourth dimension, JudgingPerceiving. The MBTI© is probably the most widely used assessment instrument of its kind, with millions administered annually in the US, and more in other countries around the world. I personally am so persuaded of the value of its “theory to practice” applications that I became a qualified administrator of the instrument, and use it in my practice.

Jung felt that every person develops natural inclinations and preferences among these dimensions. Practitioners commonly use the analogy of “handedness” – whether you are born right-handed or left-handed. Regardless of your handedness, you can and do use both hands, and, similarly, whether you are born with a preference for Thinking or Feeling, for example, you can and do use both. However, as with your handedness, you will generally be more inclined to use the preference you were born with, and be more comfortable using it, and more skillful.

The terms have meanings quite different from how they are stereotypically understood. For example, the Extraversion-Introversion dimension is not about whether a person is loud at parties, or quiet and withdrawn. Rather, it describes how people derive their energy from the world. Extraverts draw their energy from action and interaction with the external world. They work best with people around them as they talk their way through to new ideas and decisions. Introverts draw their energy from reflection and contemplation within the internal world of thoughts and ideas. Ideas and clarity develop most readily when the Introvert is being quietly contemplative.”

The Sensing-Intuition dimension is how we take in information about the world, either with a preference for information immediately perceived by our senses, and on what “is,” or with a preference for drawing inferences from more or other, not immediately obvious sources, and on what “could be.”

The Thinking-Feeling dimension is how we evaluate what is most important in coming to decisions, either with a preference for rational, objective, universally applicable criteria, or with a preference for subjective applications taking into account the impact of decisions on individuals and social harmony. Note: Feeling, as used here, must not be confused with “emotions.”

The Judging–Perceiving dimension refers to an individual’s need for structure and closure. I sometimes describe it this way: a person with a Judging preference wants to solve the puzzle, while a person with a Perceiving preference wants to play with the puzzle.

Further work by psychological researchers confirms validity of these four dimensions, calling them factors of personality, and has identified a fifth factor, Neuroticism, which is not assessed by the instrument.

The MBTI© produces an assessment of personality based on the specific preferences among the four dimensions, e.g., identifying a person as an ENFP (Extraversion/Intuition/Feeling/Perceiving) personality type. (Note: N is used for Intuition, because I is already used for Introversion). Each of the sixteen types of this typology understands and acts in the world differently from another.

Theory to practice applications include Communicating With Type In Mind During Conflict, the subject and title of a workshop I’ll be presenting at the New Mexico Mediation Association’s Winter Convocation in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 31, 2007. The program will overview applications in mediation and benefits to mediators and other conflict specialists in knowing and applying the principles. Applications include assisting clients in getting through misunderstandings based on type differences, identifying blind spots in the problem-solving process based on type, use of type to bridge cultural and gender differences based on type similarities, and the mediator’s own use of type to identify the kind of practice she wants.

Remember to go to the new site – http://www.EngagingConflicts.com.

Note: The books mentioned in this post are available at your local libraries and bookstores, of course, but you can also buy them online through my Amazon.com link in the right-hand sidebar at the new location (and I will appreciate it, if you do!)

February 21, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Three — EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:04 am

sheep looking into cameraThis post continues the series on adult development and adult complexity of mind, a relatively new field of study and application about how human thinking capacities evolve sequentially and how these theories can be practically applied in such fields as adult learning, professional development, and leadership development, all of which are relevant for attorneys, mediators and others working in conflict management and resolution. Part One, which overviewed transformational learning, as distinguished from informational learning, and Part Two, which introduced psychological theorist Robert Kegan’s theory of adult development of mind, are found here and here.

Most adults are at Kegan’s Third Order in his five staged orders of mind. They may live most or all of their lives in it. They perhaps strive to live good lives as defined by the norms and standards of their societal institutions, such as family, government, profession. These norms and standards have been internalized — they are “subjects,” that cannot easily be questioned. Adults at the Third Order are living something greater than narrow, self-centered interests — they can consider the impact of their actions on others, and choose, e.g., personal discomfort or risk in order to do what is right for their family. They have difficulty, however, when there are conflicts between important ideologies, institutions or people — they feel torn in two and have difficulty making decisions.

However, according to Kegan, this level of adult development of mind does not give the adult what contemporary life so often demands — contemporary life often requires us to mediate between many conflicting important ideologies, institutions and key people. Therefore, according to Kegan, most adults are “in over their heads,” much of the time.

At the Fourth Order, adults have a sense of self that is independent of their family, government, profession. The norms and standards of those institutions can be examined, questioned — they have become “objects.” These adults are not torn apart by conflicting ideologies, institutions or people, because they have created their own norms and standards. They are self-guided, self-motivated, and self-evaluative. They also have empathy and consider other peoples’ needs and wishes when they make decisions.

According to Kegan, less than half of all adults are at the Fourth Order, even though this is the modern image of what adults are supposed to be like.

The Fifth Order never appears before midlife, and then, only rarely. Adults at this Order have the greatest complexity of mind. They understand and deal better with paradox, consider the broadest ranges of opinions and governing systems, and see similarities where previously they saw differences.

It is important to note that these theories do not say that any one order is better than another. Application of the theories may help us in our lives and in our careers look at the fit between the complexity of mind of a person and his or her role or environment, in order to better support the person in growth and/or constructive accommodation to the required tasks. If an adult at the Third Order is asked to do tasks better suited to someone at the Fourth Order, and vice versa, there will be internal and possibly institutional conflict.

In the work context, for example, an adult being asked to perform more complex tasks, such as may happen in moving from a well-defined job to one with a more ambiguous structure, may feel overwhelmed and inadequate this adult must not only be able to meet demands, but also identify and choose among conflicting demands. An adult asked to perform less complex tasks, such as may happen when the adult has outgrown a role or part of the organization, may feel underutilized and under-valued.

There are many analogous applications in our various practices as we engage conflicts. Kegan has also published an excellent book applying the principles to communication techniques that will best support transformation in individuals, titled How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work (co-authored with Lisa Laskow).

Remember to go to the new site — http://www.EngagingConflicts.com.

Note: The books in this post are available at your local libraries and bookstores, of course, but you can also buy them online through my Amazon.com link in the right-hand sidebar at the new location.

February 20, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Two — EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:38 am

sheep looking into cameraThis post continues the series on adult development and adult complexity of mind, a relatively new field of study and application about how human thinking capacities evolve sequentially and how these theories can be practically applied in such fields as adult learning, professional development, and leadership development, all of which are relevant for attorneys, mediators and others working in conflict management and resolution. Part One is found here.

 

In Part One of this series on adult development and complexity of mind, I talked about transformational learning, defined as learning that leads to greater complexity of mind, that is, broader perspective taking. It is different from informational learning, which more simply adds knowledge to the mind, and does not itself develop the complexity of the mind. Understanding these complex and important ideas may help all of us think and act with the increased complexity necessary for sustained success in today’s world. Parts Two and Three will explore the basis of this theory in constructive-developmental psychology. Parts Four and Five will introduce Carl Jungs theoretical framework of mid-life as a natural epoch in human development.

Children and adults see vastly different worlds. To a small child, the view from an airplane is of miniature people and houses and cars, while an adult knows that they are full-sized objects that only look small from the perspective of the plane’s height. As the child grows and matures, she, too, comes to understand that an object remains the same size, whether it is seen close up or from afar, even though it looks bigger or smaller. This is an example of cognitive development. Just as children’s brains develop in complexity of thought, so, too, can an adult’s brain, according to constructive-developmental psychology theorist Robert Kegan.

Catherine Fitzgerald, in Executive Coaching discusses his theories as they apply to executive coaching, but they are applicable to many social and personal situations, including those with conflict. For more information, see Fitzgerald, Catherine and Garvey Berger, Jennifer, Leadership and Complexity of Mind: The Role of Executive Coaching, in Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002.

How do people make meaning of the world around them? Kegan discusses one particular aspect of transformational learning, the movement of something from Subject to Object. At one time, people believed that the world was flat, and that assumption (that the world was flat) was not questioned. An unquestioned assumption is as if it is part of the person, a subject.” It is not an object,” i.e., something outside of oneself that can be examined, considered, or evaluated from some different perspective.

When an assumption is a subject,” it both shapes how the world is understood, and it cannot be questioned. If the world is flat, you don’t sail too far towards the edge of the world, and you may attack people who say it is not flat. However, if you understand that the flatness of the world is an assumption, not a fact, you might consider what others say about it, and even sail towards the edge of the world to check it out.

To Kegan, the more assumptions about the world that are made Object instead of Subject, the more complex the mind, and the greater the ability of a person to see, reflect on, be responsible for, and shape her own world.

Fitzgerald gives these as examples of insights that involve a Subject-Object shift:

  • I was always the responsible one in my family and I guess I ended up controlling things. I’ve been talking about empowering staff, but I haven’t really been willing to give up control.

  • I was taught that being loyal to my boss and my company came first, but now I see that doing the right thing can be much more important than loyalty.

 

Id. at 30-31. These movements are very challenging, and insights learned often seem to disappear shortly after being gained. Kegan suggests these movements involve a psychological muscle that must be built and strengthened over time. These movements are the process of cognitive development.

The existence of five qualitatively different orders of mind” is another key aspect of Kegan’s constructive-developmental theory. Each is a different way of constructing reality (“seeing” the world), ranging from less to more complex. These are stages along the developmental journey. Each order preserves the complexity learned at the earlier orders.

According to Kegan, the First Order is made up almost totally of young children, and involves magical thinking. The Second Order is made up of older children and adolescents, and adults who still think like them. These adults are self-centered and see people as aids or obstacles to what they want. If they don’t break rules, it’s because they are afraid of being caught.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the other Orders of Mind.

Remember to go to the new site, http://www.EngagingConflicts.com.

 

February 9, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part One — EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 8:18 am

sheep looking into cameraThis post marks the beginning of a series on adult development and adult complexity of mind, a relatively new field of study and application about how human thinking capacities evolve sequentially and how these theories can be practically applied in such fields as adult learning, professional development, and leadership development, all of which are relevant for attorneys, mediators and others working in conflict management and resolution. I previously published the series as part of a column I wrote in 2002 and 2003 for the print newspaper, the Los Alamos Monitor. The series will overview some of the leading theories and tools used in executive and leadership coaching: constructive-developmental psychology, Carl Jung’s theory framework of mid-life as a natural epoch in human development, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© (MBTI©).

“Complexity of mind” is defined as broader perspective taking. The ability to take and keep broader, additional perspectives in mind is crucial to developing competencies “such as systemic thinking and the ability to develop collaboration among diverse constituents, create learning organizations, and question and evaluate existing systems and models in order to innovate and make long-range strategic decisions.” Goodman, Robert G., “The Use of Adult Developmental Theory as a Basis for Transformative Change,” Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, [edited by] Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, Jennifer, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002.

Does it matter how broad a perspective we take? If we are responsible for solving problems, it does. For example, we are advised to look at “performance improvement” when we are evaluating performance problems in an organization. It’s a form of training that focuses on solving problems, instead of on building specific skills, the focus of traditional training. In addition to skill training, performance improvement considers whether the organization structure supports the work flow, and whether the environmental work conditions are appropriate. According to one source:
[c]lose to 80% of performance barriers are environment-related. Developing job skills will not improve these organizational issues:

  • Employee lacks necessary equipment
  • Job description does not match the job
  • Employee has wrong qualifications for the job
  • No incentives to improve
  • Employees are inadequately supervised
  • Job progress is not monitored for immediate feedback
  • Policies are out of step with expectations
  • Manager has a hidden agenda
  • Job procedures are out of date and do not support the process
  • Design of the organization thwarts productivity
  • Staff is not authorized to make related decisions
  • Lack of organizational leadership

Guide on the Side – A Model for Training and Improving Performance,” Marie Wallace, published at LLRX.com, one of the leading legal and technology resources on the internet.

Just as developing job skills will not help correct those organizational issues, so, too, will failure to evaluate and address a more subtle issue that may be present: failing to distinguish between informational learning and transformational learning. Informational learning has been defined as “new knowledge added to the current form of one’s mind,” and transformational learning, as “learning that changes the very form of one’s mind, making it more spacious, more complex, and more able to deal with multiple demands and with uncertainty.” Fitzgerald, Catherine and Garvey Berger, Jennifer, “Leadership and Complexity of Mind: The Role of Executive Coaching,” Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, [edited by] Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, Jennifer, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002. In the next segment of the series, I’ll discuss this theory of constructive-developmental psychology.

February 5, 2007

Ethical Standards for Elder Mediation Symposium Registration Now Open — EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Ethics — Gini @ 11:40 am

Kristine Paranica of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (ISCT) just posted this announcement:
eye close up

You are invited to the First National Symposium on Ethical Standards for Elder Mediation, April 19-20, 2007 at Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, PA. Find all the details at www.mediation-services.org.

This exciting 2-day event will feature Harry “Rick” Moody, Nancy Neveloff Dubler, Robert Baruch Bush and distinguished panelists from the fields of mediation, elder law, bioethics, geriatric ethics, geriatric medicine and social work. The Symposium will tackle critical issues such as the impact of societal aging biases on the mediation process, capacity issues, and a mediator’s responsibility when the outcome of a mediation violates ethical and/or legal norms.

At this time, registration may be completed by mail and by check. On-line registration and credit card payment is available on our website at www.mediation-services.org.

Please note that space is limited to the first 100 registrants and that the super early bird fee of $325 that includes meals and the special Thursday evening dinner event is only good until February 15. Then regular and late fees apply. We expect to fill the Symposium to capacity, so please register early. You will receive confirmation of your admittance into the Symposium upon receipt of your registration and payment.

Please direct your questions to Kathryn Mariani at eldermediation@mediation-services.org or (610) 277-8909.

We hope to see you this spring!

Kristine, thank you, and thanks to ISTC for sponsoring such programs!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.