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What your Car says about you


What your Car says about you

Pic found on Twitter
Pic found on Twitter

Mid-life crisis = red corvette? No comment!

Yesterday we talked about lunch and culture, today it's cars and personality type.

American manufacturer Ford is currently holding their conference in Detroit, and have teamed up with CPP (license-holder of all MBTI® products) to show which Type would prefer which Ford model.

I've gone through an exercise before where we talked about our decision-making for car purchases. I remember someone with extraverted Feeling (Fe) preferences saying they simply "fell in love" as soon as they saw their car.

Someone with introverted Feeling (Fi) preferences said they went by recommendation and experience.

Someone with INTP preferences (dominant introverted Thinking Ti = analyzing) compared statistics, security results, mileage, and many other objective factors.

For me, it's not very extraverted Feeling at all - I just need my car to function, and I certainly don't have the patience to compare all those numbers. German engineering, anyone?

Here are some of the comments left on the MBTI facebook page about how to choose a car.

INTJ - Nissan Centra (quiet, practical, low maintenance, logical choice)

ENFJ - sporty & fun

INFJ - technology features

INFJ - Scion xA

INFP - not flashy but very reliable

INFP - biodiesel bug = easy on the environment & holds dogs well

ESTJ - 1960 Morris Minor. No technology = less to go wrong; everything can be fixed with a spanner

ENTP - Jeep Wrangler - go anywhere, do anything

ISTP - Jeep Wrangler - flexible to make (it) anywhere in silence

INTP - love the technology

What's your Type, and what (if any) do you drive?


Image by Jon Rawlinson, Flickr, Creative Commons.



Supporting Expat Spouses

Pic credit - fdecomite

Expat spouses often find themselves having to choose between a rock and a hard place. Moving every few years, relocating your sense of self and establishing new social circles are great fun and fantastic adventures if you have an outgoing, curious and flexible personality. If you're looking for stability on the other hand, your patience will be tested.

When it comes down to it, are you prepared to choose between your relationship and your livelihood?

The 2012 Brookfield Global Relocation Trends Study reports:

Although they are still in the majority, there are far fewer married international assignees than in the past. Given that the re-emergence of optimism in some segments of the economy is widely divergent and cautious at best, the desire of many families to preserve their two-income status is likely a strong factor in this result. In this year’s report, the percentage of international assignees that are married was 60%, the lowest in the last four years of the survey, and a full 7% under the historical average (67%). Furthermore, this year’s percentage is down 8% from last year’s report (68%) and 14% from the survey high of 74% that was reported 12 years ago. As economic realities continue to remain in flux for many employees with families, it is possible that companies’ current international assignment programs are not adequately meeting the needs of employees with spouses, causing them to decline international assignment opportunities. In any case, the identification of this as a longer term trend affords companies the opportunity to ensure their policies and benefits are aligned to meet the changing profiles of their assignees.

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it's a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion. He really wants and needs to go, but he will turn it down if you're not on board.

Great! You're involved in the decision!

Now let's see: you have a great life, your family and friends live nearby, your parents are getting up there in age, you've a fantastic job, your kids adore their school, you love your house - and you love your spouse, too.

If you decide not to give up what you have, will he eventually resent you for it? Probably right around the time that other guy gets the promotion.

If you decide to support him and move, effectively giving up your life as you know it, to a place where you cannot read grocery labels, your hairdresser doesn't understand you wanted blond not red highlights, and the culture is completely alien, will you resent him for it?

Not unlikely. Hell, your marriage may fall apart altogether.

Still, the chances of you going abroad are a lot higher in this scenario than they would be if we swapped pronouns:

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it's a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion. SHE really wants and needs to go, but SHE will turn it down if you're not on board.

As it is, 80 % of expats are men, and only 20 % are women. Brookfield's data does not go into marital status detail by gender, or at least I haven't heard back from them about it. So the reality is, more often than not it's women who have to decide between love and their own careers.

Going back to yesterday's happiness formula, I recommend adopting a positive attitude. If you decide to go abroad, find ways to fill your days with things you love but never had the chance to pursue. Do your best to be prepared for as much as you can prepare yourself for, and maintain open and honest communication throughout the process. Your partner needs to hear how you feel so you can effectively support each other.

Preparing for an international assignment comes in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes a bit of a Google search is sufficient, many times all out language classes are appropriate. I always recommend cross-cultural trainings - even and especially if you're moving to countries with the same language. And there may also be circumstances that warrant continuous coaching support.

The good news is, your decision doesn't have to be "either relationship, or career". International experiences can lead to a broader range of (marketable!) skills and competencies for everyone involved. They can strengthen a family bond, and you'll create memories ranging from anecdotes to moments of profound shifts in your being.


6 Thinking Hats and other decision-making models


6 Thinking Hats and other decision-making models

Whether you're going through a decision-making phase or are trying to innovate a new product or service, various tools are available to support you. Disney's 3 Spaces

Walt Disney has been credited with using this simple formula to come up with novel ideas:

  1. He had one space where he would just dream and brainstorm.
  2. He had another space where he would consider which ideas could become reality.
  3. He had a third space where he would criticize and constructively look at his ideas.

If you're using this method yourself, it is imperative that you find different chairs or locations to exercise each aspect in. Don't let the critic pipe up while you're still dreaming! Remember, motion creates emotion, so you can perhaps dream while you walk, and become realistic while sitting at your desk.

6 Thinking Hats

white hat

The White Hat calls for information known or needed. "The facts, just the facts."

yellow hat

The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.

black hat

The Black Hat is judgment - the devil's advocate or why something may not work. Spot the difficulties and dangers; where things might go wrong. Probably the most powerful and useful of the Hats but a problem if overused.

red hat

The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. When using this hat you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates.

green hat

The Green Hat focuses on creativity; the possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas. It's an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions.

blue hat

The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process. It's the control mechanism that ensures the Six Thinking Hats® guidelines are observed.

Looking at the hats through the Type lens, we often see the colors represented as functions as well. Red, emotions, and feelings may represent the Feeling function, blue, logic, and analysis represents the Thinking function, yellow often stands for Intuiting, and green for Sensing.

In other words, if hats aren't your thing, you might also consider

The Z-model for decision-making


Begin by looking at what-is, the facts, present feelings, memories, sensations. Then consider themes, patterns, what might be in the future, universal application possibilities. Follow up with fact-checking, organization, cause-effect, and bottom-line analysis. Round it all off considering the people involved, their values, impact on harmony and relationships.

Questions to ask yourself (excerpt from Step II Interpretive report):

S - What do we know, and how do we know it?

N - What else can we come up with, and what are the connections?

T - Why wouldn't we be following through now, and what are the logical consequences?

F - What do we like and dislike, and what about the people who will be hurt?



Are you making decisions too early?

Highlighted quotes from Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" Chapter 7 When I met my husband we were both working in the same company in Barcelona. After dating for about 2 weeks, he said he was thinking about going back to his hometown (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) to start his own business. I took that as an invitation, and we started planning our departure straight away.

Once in Las Palmas, I had access to about 15 months of unemployment benefits, as well as free education to re-train for a new career. I also had access to a rooftop terrace with views of the Atlantic, a home to furnish, a beach nearby, and a couple dozen novels that demanded my attention. In other words, the first 6 months passed quickly. Eventually, I took advantage of the employment-agency-sponsored course "How to be an Editor".

That's when hubby decided to apply for jobs again.

I stopped dead in my tracks. I was annoyed, confused, and annoyed. Hadn't I just settled in here? Started my course? Began to make some connections? WTF! Well, if we're going to move again anyway, I might as well go back to reading novels. And start researching Mexico, because that's where we were headed.

As I've learned through Type awareness, having a dominant Judging function means I tend to like to make decisions quickly. Whatever it is, tick it off the list, move on to the next thing. Making decisions gives me a sense of closure and certainty, which us Germans also tend to value highly. What this meant for my life in Las Palmas was that I effectively checked out and stopped making an effort about 5 months before we actually moved to Mexico.

Apparently, checking out before leaving is also a phenomenon among women in the workplace. As Sheryl Sandberg notes in her book, "Lean In - Women, Work, and the Will to Lead", many women are limiting their own career trajectory, sometimes years in advance. She describes the case of one colleague who started worrying about juggling a family and a career before she even had a boyfriend. She cites statistics and research that shows women are less likely to take a promotion or go for an opportunity if there's a family plan on the horizon.

On the one hand, women expect to have to bear the majority of child caring responsibility. Unfortunately, they're not mistaken; traditional gender roles still persist. It makes sense to want to plan and make space for having a family.

On the other, Sheryl argues, if you don't take that promotion today because in two or three years you want to have children - you'll come back after your maternity leave to a job you're not challenged by, and you'll probably be working for a guy who may even have less experience than you. She supports women to make the choice that makes sense to them, and urges us not to lean back and prematurely limit our options.

Leaning in and staying present in your career is

(...) the only way to ensure that when the day comes, there will be a real decision to make.

For expats, checking out is an easy attitude to take. "I won't be here that long anyway." or "Why bother, I don't have a work permit so what difference does it make whether I volunteer or not?" It makes a difference. Don't wait to hang up your pictures or paint the wall in the color you want, either, because believe me - you'll be that much happier when you've got something nice to look at. Even if you have to take it down again in a few months.

Looking back, I wish I had finished my Editing course. Today it's great practice for my Perceiving function to stay open to what's emerging around me, instead of deciding and closing options - and myself - off. Trading my sense of closure for a higher level of uncertainty is a challenge, but the rewards are worth it: I'm more present in my relationships, and more flexible to take projects that really challenge me. "I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it" has become one of my favorite phrases.

So - what's a decision that you have already taken today that won't really affect your life until further down the line?

What would it take to reopen and keep questioning that situation?


What's more influential: your brain or your values?

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What's more influential: your brain or your values?

I recently gave a presentation to my local chapter of the Association for Psychological Type, called Nature and Nurture: Where Personality Type and Culture Frameworks meet. We talked about how people in the same country behave differently according to how their brains are wired (type), and how people from different countries behave differently according to their values and belief systems (culture).

I asked a question: would you lie for your friend? 

Trompenaars and Hampden Turner researched seven cultural dimensions surveying thousands of managers and publishing their findings in their book, Riding the Waves of Culture. Let's look at one of them:


Imagine you riding in a car, you are the passenger and your best friend is driving. He is going over the speed limit and hits another car. The police arrives, and your friend asks you to lie for him and say you were going the speed limit. Would you lie for your friend?

The audience was made up of mainly US Americans, but also Germans, Spanish, and Chinese nationals. Some nodded straight away, some immediately shook their heads. What would you do?

The follow-up question is: you're riding in a car with your friend driving over the speed limit, and he hits a little girl on a bike. The police arrives, and your friend asks you to lie and say he wasn't speeding. Would you lie for your friend now?

Universalism and Particularism

Every society has rules, the cultural difference lies in how consistently they are applied. In universalist cultures, rules are the same for everyone. Broadly speaking, we see this in Northern and Western countries, where contracts matter, trust is built by doing what you say, meaning what you say, and the focus is on task and literal interpretations. For example, I'm from Germany, and when I first heard the questions, my response was that my friend wouldn't put me in a position to break rules by asking me to lie in the first place. If he decides to speed, he has to take responsibility for his actions. Even more so if someone comes to bodily harm.

On the other hand, we have particularist cultures, where the operative word when it comes to rules is: "depends". Of course there are rules, like in traffic and business etiquette, but if friends, relatives, or members of important families are involved, exceptions will be made. Trust is built upon personal relationships, the connections one has to a group, and the focus is on reading between the lines and honor. A Brazilian colleague said of course she would protect her friend, he wouldn't even have to ask. Broadly speaking, we see a preference for particularism in Southern and Eastern countries, where written contracts will change if circumstances change, and friends may be protected even more when there's bodily harm involved and consequences would be worse.

Differentiating between type and culture

To type practitioners, this dimension sounds a lot like and is easily mistaken for decision-making by Thinking or Feeling preferences. If your brain is wired to prefer the Thinking function, you are more likely to base your decisions on logical analysis and objective detachment. If your brain is wired to prefer the Feeling function, you are more likely to base your decisions on personal values, harmony, and empathy. Thinking focuses more on the object, Feeling focuses more on the relationship. This creates a dilemma: people with a Thinking preference in particularist cultures may break the rules - and resent it. People with a Feeling preference in universalist cultures may not protect their friend - and feel very bad about that indeed. The question now becomes, which over-rides for you? Do you make a decision based on your type / brain wiring, or on your culture / values?

As Type practitioners, we cannot ignore the cultural dimension if we want to validate our clients' best fit type accurately. More research will be needed into clarifying what the distribution is, but I for one am convinced we need to look at nature and nurture to understand our fellow man better. I'd even go a step further: people are more complex than brain wiring and cultural belief systems: our genetics, education, upbringing, skills, experiences, and general context also matter.

Would love to hear your thoughts, so if you'd like to continue the conversation, please leave a comment below or sign up to the right to say up-to-date with upcoming webinars and events.

Cheers and until next time!

Image by Faramarz Hashemi, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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How to make sound decisions


How to make sound decisions

All of us make decisions big and small, every day. How do we know when to stick with them and when to change them? According to Type theory, we all take in information preferring either what we can grasp with our five senses (S), or what we intuitively see as a possibility (N). When considering our observations, we make decisions preferably based on either analytical reasoning (T) or our values (F), respectively. Which of the process we spend more time on, the information gathering or the decision-making, is a different story.

The development of our preferences for both taking in information and making decisions goes back to which modalities we used when forming our personality, and which results we received. We learned to either trust our senses or our intuition, and to follow our head or our heart. Sometimes our preferred behavior got us into trouble, so we adapted and learned to follow the other course. This will have been effective, but not resonating with our soul and sense of purpose.

Of course we all able to use all four modalities throughout our lifetime depending on the situation, yet we will tend to go back to the one preference that has never let us down. Knowing which you prefer (real-time, practical senses vs. possibility and intuition; logical analysis vs. values and impact on people) can help you approach decision-making processes with greater ease. For a decision to be sound and lasting, it ideally has to go through all four channels. What are the facts if they cannot be applied to a great vision? What is the bottom-line result worth if it cannot be put to benefit people?

Here's an example from "This day in history" about a famous instance of information that was taken in, a decision that was made, then recanted, and eventually validated after all:

On this day in 1633, Italian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome to face charges of heresy for advocating Copernican theory. Copernican theory of a sun-centered solar system conflicted with the teachings of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, which essentially ruled Italy at the time. Church teachings contended that Earth, not the sun, was at the center of the universe. Galileo officially faced the Roman Inquisition in April and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. Put under house arrest indefinitely by Pope Urban VIII, Galileo spent the rest of his days at his villa in Arcetri, near Florence.

Today, Galileo is recognized for making important contributions to the study of motion and astronomy. His work influenced later scientists such as the English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, who developed the law of universal gravitation. In 1992, the Vatican formally acknowledged its mistake in condemning Galileo.

If I may close with a little moral: if you know your decision was wrong, don't wait 359 years to rectify it. ;-)

Til next week, have a good one!


Image by Bill Abbot, flickr, Creative Commons license



The agony of choice

This week I'd like to elaborate a little on the topic we brushed last week - choices and decision-making.We've all heard the decision-making tips, right? Let's recap for a minute. In simplistic terms, you always (ALWAYS) have at least three options: go forward, go back, or stay the same. There are several ways to choose between these options. According to circumstances, you can: toss a coin, ask a friend/neighbour/relative, listen to your gut or go methodical by writing down the pros and cons and looking at black-on-white scenarios to see which appears to yield the best outcome. Quick decisions are usually gut- or coin-induced, more wide-ranging ones take some time and deliberate thinking. In any case, you always have the choice to say "no" and you can always say, "ask me again in a little while, I need to think about this" (unless you're James Bond saving the world from aliens, or you're wondering whether to run out of a burning building or something). I just wonder, why is it called "agony" to have options? I think it's great! Do I sometimes envy the women of Jane Austen's era who didn't have to do anything but look pretty, be accomplished and wait for a guy to marry them? Sure! Sounds like an easy enough life, doesn't it? Not having to think for oneself, having everything planned out from the day you were born, no influence or chance of change for the life that you're destined to live... No change = no fuss.

But hey, wait a minute: no influence = no life? I don't know if I would have been a person to question things that seem to run so smoothly, but imagine if I were... I would have felt trapped! Cheated! Helpless! Caged! Can I just thank the ladies of the burning bras for not giving up and making possible the freedoms I can enjoy today? You're my heroes! Rock on! Now, if you'd only have found a way to give us the freedom without the obligations...

Until not so long ago "they" tried making things as easy as possible (i.e. the Government decided about your job, your source of news and your religious affiliation) in the former GDR, that's Eastern Germany, if I remember correctly. Don't quote me, I'm no historian, but after the wall came down there were plenty of people who were delighted to embrace new stuff like freedom of speech and being able to travel anywhere they want. At the same time, there were those, too, who fell into a hole not knowing what to do, because they never had to take care of things themselves. I would like to make absolutely clear that there's no judgment here about those people whatsoever; they were simply not used to the responsibility and most likely overwhelmed by the change. I wonder if they did get used to it in the end though, and do they think things have improved, or if they wished the wall and the old regime back up again.

I guess my question is, if you're afraid of making decisions and find having options agonising, would you be prepared to accept the alternative and live in a society where you have limited or no choice?

Here's to having your cake and eat it, too...

Til next time!