Friday, October 25, 2013

Personality not personal

My thoughts today return to the psychometric assessment tool Lumina Spark. I am a practitioner for this instrument and thoroughly enjoy sharing this with clients. I was a long time looking for something that I could use as a coach that felt right to me. This is it.

As part of a prospective client presentation  I used one of the charts from my own portrait. These folks counsel others for a living and are highly trained professionals. My background is in education not counselling although the two have never been mutually exclusive in my career. But I would never pretend to counsel someone who needed the services of a "real" counsellor.

I was interested to note that once the less pronounced qualities were made clear I felt a shift in one of the clients, to wanting to pursue these weaker areas with me. I began to "explain" why I thought they were less strong, sometimes by a lot more, than some of my other qualities. As a practitioner, I recognize that many or most of us could have this happen in our portrait and it doesn't have to mean there is anything going on in our life that could be viewed as a problem because of a weaker showing. Often we compensate with one our higher qualities.

My example was a low score in empathetic across my personae of underlying, everyday and overextended. Although it is stronger in my overextended. Because of the reaction from the client I began to think more carefully about this one. I have had a very positive career in education, a forty year marriage and two well adjusted children. This did not seem to me to fit the low score in empathy. It is very difficult to sustain faking a quality like that in education without some crisis happening. I never had a problem. So what might be behind this low score?

First off our personalities are not fixed entities. We grow, change and adapt to our life experiences and our circumstances. Had I done the Portrait when I was a teacher I believe this quality would have been higher. Although I do remember working with children in difficulty and using Barbara Coloroso's words: "If you have a problem you need a plan." to which I would also add "and I will help you with that." My strong logical and take charge qualities moved in to help. I did this with my own children who still call me for problem solving help ( as well as for other things). The tough trait that describes us as emotionally resilient and as courageous at tackling difficult conversations, helps us to help folks, who are lost or struggling. Empathy needs to be there and evident to the other person but it alone was not enough in the career I had. We had to help find a solution and sometimes sooner rather than later.

But to another thought I had about this quality. Just maybe when I stopped having to worrying about other people all the time I let that quality go soft. I use it if I need to, but I am not on high alert all the time, to prevent others from messing up. Just maybe it has given me a kind of freedom and will return gradually.


  1. I think this is interesting and a good point. When I did my profile with you back in the spring, my empathy was off the charts, but I believe it was directly attributable to the work situation I was in where I was trying to protect hundreds of staff from a bad situation! I'm sure if I did it now, it would be much lower, though I don't think I am less of an empathetic person! The interesting thing to me was that this individual wanted to "help" you - is that natural empathy or take care? ;-)

  2. That is an interesting question. The client "helps" for a living which I believe requires empathy in fairly large doses but could be high in logical and takes charge, as well and sees this as a problem to be solved. Going to be interesting to work with this portrait to see the result.

  3. Do you want empathy to return? Do you see its absence as a deficit?

  4. No truthfully I wasn't missing it a bit until the client mm'd about it. Aren't we such suckers for the implied "lacking" in us??