Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Learning to Yield

I don't Yield well.

I was noticing that as I was driving home from my friend's house last night. Actually, I've been noticing it for longer than that. When I could see Alyssa's boyfriend, Josh, cringing in my rearview mirror as I was changing lanes, it was clear something was amiss. Why I was looking at him and his reaction anyway, instead of the lane I was merging into…well, that's part of the problem, isn't it? So it seems that I look into my rearview mirror, and sometimes look at my driver side mirror, but seldom do I actually turn my head to see if someone is in my blind spot. I just turn on my blinker, do a quick check in those two places, and start slowing but steadily moving into my new lane. Occasionally, I encounter someone who doesn't want to give me space, they honk and I move back.  But most of the time, people seem to accommodate me.

As I drove home, I thought about the past weekend. We did lots of introspective work. And one of the things we talked about was personality types. You've heard various takes on the personality type categorization, but for this workshop, there were four: Controller, Pleaser, Isolator, and Distractor.  The more we talked about it, the more it became clear to me that I  fall into the Controller category.  My fellow workshop attendees were somewhat surprised to find me in this category.  I don't come across as a bully or as an authoritarian-type.  And, I'm neither of those things.    But I do control *situations*. I create containers for people to be able to have experiences that I think should happen.  I clearly want to get my way, and most of the time I do.  While I don't think I do it consciously, my Controller type often looks like a Pleaser, but I'm really still just trying to get things to go the way I want them to go.  Maybe it's just a Southern Thing. 

Because I often have a kind of "flight of ideas" when I'm on the road,  I started to think about how this affects people's driving. My driving habits seemed to line up with these personality patterns. I was just just rolling over into the lane I wanted, without a lot of checking as to whether it was already occupied. My turning signal AS I WAS MERGING was really just a token nod to appear as a Pleaser. But all the while, definitely a Controller. Pleasers were all over the road, carefully driving, merging safely, motioning for someone else to go ahead of them. Isolators are represented on the highway as well - at least those who actually left their house. They're the ones driving with their music loud or headphones on. They tune out the rest of the world, and just drive their isolated bubble down the road. The Distractors are mainly on the service road. There are so many stops along the way, they just never make it onto the interstate.

Controllers, Pleasers, Distractors, and Isolators...all over the place! And there's nothing inherently right or wrong about any of these descriptors. There are positive and negative aspects of each of these categories. The key is to recognize what your dominant response is, and try to choose your actions with that in mind. Make more conscious decisions instead of "knee jerk" decisions.  Look more compassionately at those with other dominant traits. Everyone is really just trying to cope with the world.

Maybe I'll start with just learning to "Yield" a little better...on and off the road. 


Reticula said...

I did something like this once at a church board retreat. I came up pleaser and everybody, including the guy who was leading it, couldn't believe I wasn't a controller. Or maybe I'm just that good! ;-)

Great metaphor again, Sue.

Sue said...

Just goes to show that we often don't really know people very well - and yet we are so dang sure we do! ha!
I love metaphors! ;) Thanks for the kind words.