Two of our beautiful nieces are getting married. When our holiday bride was small she silently and tearfully retied her laces ten dozens of ways until she believed they were perfect. Our spring bride was pure play and sunshine or storm clouds. My wish for them is that they will learn to really see their grooms and build bridges of communication that will endure, even when it feels like the sky is falling.

We are privileged to know the authors or coaches of some of the most elegant communication models in the world today. Our family friend Dr. Paul White co-authoredThe 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman, bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages (gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch. Our client Next Element occupies a world stage with its Leading Out of Drama® (LOD) model for positive conflict, new Compassion Mindset platform and as a US distributor for the Process Communication Model® that is taught on five continents, in more than 30 languages.

Developed by Dr. Taibi Kahler for NASA in 1978 to select, place and train astronauts, PCM identifies the best ways to connect with and motivate the six Kahler personality types and understand their distress patterns. My notes from a Next Element immersion experience (boot camp) a few years ago remind me how to see and understand when there’s a communication boulder in the middle of our road:

Rebel. Spontaneous and creative. Reacts to people and things with likes and dislikes. Ability to play and enjoy the present. Doesn’t think first like a thinker, have opinions first like the persister, feel first like the harmonizer and doesn’t wait for directions like the dreamer. There are three levels of distress. In second-degree distress, the rebel becomes negative, complaining about and blaming things, situations or other people.

Promoter. Action-oriented, adaptable, persuasive and charming. Ability to be firm and direct. Responds to reality through actions. Go for it. In second-degree distress, the promoter ignores or breaks rules, sets up arguments and creates negative drama.

Imaginer (also called dreamer). Introspective, imaginative, reflective and calm. Motivated into action by people with opinions. Waits for external stimulation (just tell me what to do), preferring time for reflection. This personality type in second-degree distress may move into sustained withdrawal, experience recurring illnesses and start but not finish projects.

Persister. Evaluates people and things based on opinions and beliefs. Dedicated, observant and conscientious. Has highly developed convictions in most areas of their lives. In second-degree distress, becomes overly sensitive to negative feedback and suspicious. Moves into a “I’m ok, you’re not ok” mindset.

Harmonizer (also called reactor). Feels first; takes in people and things by feeling about them. Compassionate, sensitive and warm. Good at creating harmony. Believes that if everyone genuinely cared, we would have fewer problems in the world. In second-degree distress, lacks assertiveness or experiences self-doubt. Can become self-deprecating (excessively modest) and invite criticism.

Thinker (also called workaholic). Thinks first and logically. Responsible and organized. Needs everything in its place. Believes thinking can solve any conflict or problem. Wants the facts. In second-degree distress, becomes frustrated with others who don’t think the same, verbally attacks others and struggles around issues like money, order or cleanliness.

PCM asserts that no one personality type is better or worse, smarter or less smart. Our base personality type develops within the first few months of birth. Our base personality type does not change throughout our life. PCM testing creates a personality condominium to show our personality order.

J. has accused me of drinking too much of the PCM Kool-Aide. The point of all this is that I love our kids and nieces and nephews and want them to learn early in life that we are all unique and how we react is more about us and how we’re made rather than about something our loved one has said or done.

On the condominium scale of personalities, I have one teeny, tiny slice of rebel, which is to say I have very low ability to play. I am a farmer first. Work before play, and the sun must set before one is allowed to sit down. Get ’er done is my flight plan. That was never more apparent than in a recent stop at Trader Joe’s to get coffee. The MO was that I would look for the coffee and J. would look for the baked beans and we would meet back at the front. Failing to see him at the front of the store in the few minutes that circle should have taken, I found him in the wine section using his wine app to check tasting notes on several bottles that interested him. Who knew Trader Joe’s has shelves filled with school night wines under $10? Being open to that sidetracking led to wine tasting led to conversation led to the woman facilitating the wine tasting coming up later at checkout to hand me a Trader Joe’s bouquet of fresh flowers with a “thank you for visiting.” (This little story explains why J. is the creative director, and I am a great account executive.)

One of J.’s love languages is quality time, and the way to his heart and through distress is play. That same (Trader Joe’s) week, we sat one night after a hospital visit to J’s dad listening to live jazz in a speakeasy kind of nightclub. And in my defense and to my more restrained personality, the prickly pear—pear-infused vodka, elderflower liquor, bitters and lime—was playful.

About Laurie

Laurie Carney is a strategist, writer, editor and account executive in her professional life. She is at home with her husband Jeffrey, also a strategist and creative director/writer, and silly rescue Poshie, Bonnie (aka Golden Bear). She has four beautiful children now that her son and daughter are happily married and three tiny grands playing starring roles.
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