Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Give your head a shake and see what happens

For the past three months I have been categorizing and classifying behavioural idiosyncracies and one in particular has me quite fascinated with the results. People who are right brain dominant - characterized by the higher functionality of intuition and sensate awareness tilt their heads naturally to the right. Left brain dominants - rational types who prefer having an analytical or emotional process for deciding information and keeping tabs on things (as opposed with right brainers who prefer open-endedness and spontaneity) tilt their heads to the left.

Obviously, this observation takes time and involves some screening to avoid misinterpreting the physical gesture due to a particular circumstance or condition. But for the most part, people quite naturally do follow this simple behavioural pattern.

So, if you tilt to the right, chances are that you also close your right eye when you wink, or look into a single lense microscope with your left eye. And if you left tilt you're more than likely to train your right eye as your "shootin eye".

What makes this fascinating is that we all use both sides of our brain to do all kinds of complex and wonderful tasks. Maybe you see yourself as a left brain organizer BUT you tilt to the right. Well, my word on that is also quite fascinating. When right brained people step up to the plate and employ left brained behaviours - they almost invariably do so to the extreme. As an example most literary critics and editors are right brained INFJs. But whenever they let go with their critical red pens on an unsuspecting author whose work is in need of more work - they do so in the extreme and their left brained judging style is both unmistakable and sharp.

ENFPs are right in there too when it comes to switching styles from their usual right brained confidence and optimism to their "dark side" emotionally judgmental self. Not to be left out ESTPs, ISTJs, ISFJs and ESFPs can also get pretty feisty and overuse their left brained judging faculties when faced with having to hang out on their alternate side of the brain. What this means is that people who go overboard with their behaviours either for better or for worse do so because there is no real guardian or control telling them when to stop, or when enough is enough. Like Forrest Gump they keep on running past the goal line and don't know when to quit.

So the next time you observe someone pay attention to the way they naturally tilt their head, or specifically which eye is lower in reference to the horizontal midline of the skull. Recognizing this quirky behaviour may make all the difference in understanding them better and being able to express yourself in ways that will make the conversation more meaningful. And for all of you out there who are wondering - I tilt to the right and probably those who go left may have more than an alternate opinion on this subject.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why should people care about Types on the Web?

What is there to learn about Types that can change the Web?
To begin with, we take for granted the way we react to things, look at things, decide things and organize things. There is a familiar attitude that says, “What you see is what you get.” It means that for the most part, people are ready to accept the things that they can touch, smell, taste, hear and see. The senses are what guide us to encounter the real world and those that swear by them are convinced that the cover on a book dictates what can be found on the inside.

But wait, others say, “You should never judge a book by its cover.” Sounds contradictory to what was just said. They say that first impressions may not necessarily be right. That people should look beneath the surface to find out what’s real and what isn’t. Then again, there are those who are quick to point out that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Does this all sound confusing and contradictory?

Let’s look at another perspective on this. Some people like to talk in details and give examples that demonstrate their points. Often times they repeat themselves and crisscross back and forth covering the same ground each time the speak. But have you ever noticed that people who like to give out information and nail down their points are the last ones to endure the same thing from others. And, what about showing emotion and sensitivity? Do people who crave attention make the best examples of giving attention? Obviously, the answer is “No!”

So, what happens to people that makes them all act differently and require special needs all of their own? Is it the environment that teaches them how to behave? Are people programmed by what they see, think and feel? Is it education or the lack of it? What about culture and gender and age? These are just some of the categories by which we mark differences and observe behaviours. Is that all there is to figuring people out, or is there something more that perhaps we may not see with our eyes, or experience through our senses.

Steven Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People talked about paradigms and ushered in the concept of making paradigm shifts. Quantum leaps in understanding brought on by new discoveries that unmask the mysteries of life. When seen from a new perspective, things change and the landscape seems different. Instead of the glass being half empty, the glass is now half full. The quest for meaning in life is fulfilled by such transforming power within the human spirit.
That’s what the world wide web offers to people who won’t be trapped inside of tiny boxes and who have an explorer’s heart for adventure. Unlike other social forms of contact, the web acts like a mirror on the soul and reflects whatever it is given. People come to the web as individuals, privately, in solitary moods and what happens next is a panacea of interactive, social networks that expand people’s imaginations: teaching them new ideas, and allowing them to transcend even themselves to become part of their fantasies. It is another world – within a world that exists on the outside. It is in fact the archetype of what the human genome creates.

The web is totally an introverted environment and for the most part, it was created by left brained people who value decision making and making information travel to its destination quickly and easily. It’s a world created on the Right and Wrong axis where things either work correctly or they don’t and that means that opinions and trends are what matter most. If 100K people hit your site in a month – you’re a star. Those who like to measure things and optimize things and even text things are right in there.

The Rational Types are much better at deciding things from either a logical or emotional perspective. They often give up when there is too much information or the visual side of things is overwhelming. And they absolutely hate it when they feel controlled or manipulated by websites that won’t allow them the freedom to decide what’s best for them. They are the online shoppers; the one’s who stalk EBay for opportunities. They are often mislead by Google searches and frustrated by broken promises. Yet when it comes to finding out the technical aspects of a problem, there they are totally in their element because the Types of people who put the information there in the first place often think and act like them.

But for those of a new generation, and by that I do not infer age, gender, culture or anything of the sort the Right hemisphere of the brain signals only the infinite possibilities of gathering information, looking at videos, listening to news clips. For these people, the web is as foreign as if they were indentured servants longing for their freedom. Please don’t misunderstand me. The paradigms are changing and there is more and more appearing every day to titillate those Right brained thrill seekers. And so here is my point, finally, at last.

Left brained dominant Types have no chance of either understanding or accommodating the needs of Right brained people. Understanding the difference in Type on the web is more than just a past time. Consider this fact. Since the onset of the personal computer more kids who would otherwise have dropped out of an academic environment have stayed in school – if only to receive the technical training they need to find jobs. I’m not talking at all about the overall dropout rate. I’m talking about the sector of young people; let’s say they are all visual learners, who have found a way to earn an education. Never mind the fact that statistics will show that eLearning results in brighter minds and more intelligent thinking; that computerized learning has given a great advantage to raising people’s standard of living throughout the world. All of these differences and similarities are played out time and time again on the web. And the people today who are leading the way have a lot to learn about those who are being left behind.

“The terrain will not at all be that friendly.”
Let me conclude by saying this, “Without considering the impact of personality types on the web is like dropping grenades from a hot air balloon that is constantly being blown over enemy lines. Sooner or later the craft must land. And when it does; the terrain will not at all be that friendly.” Translation: those who want to be on the cutting edge of new web technology must embrace the differences now and capitalize on the markets being severely overlooked. The one’s being neglected because the Type characteristics just don’t match up. Stop thinking in metric terms that measure the same experience repeated 50 times over while claiming that there is a new trend covering a similar numbered span. If there is not Type diversity in that trend then it is doomed to failure as an indicator of success because there is most likely to be an even greater number of people who never saw the website, or dropped the shopping cart, or never made it past the on off switch. That is how to see the web world from its rightful perspective of delivering process and not just structure, learning and not just information, synthesis rather than analysis, experiences and not just interaction.

For now, the indentured people are learning how to interpret the web the way others have created it and intended it to be. In the future, those same people will be the ones who will come upon the abandoned hot air balloons and propel them to new heights and with a much more humane purpose. One that embraces the creative and passionate desires of those who are virtually denied access to an open web simply because they are marching to the beat of a different drummer.
Wouldn’t you like to know more about how to reach the estimated 20-40% of people that are not taking in what you are trying to tell them? Wouldn’t you like to add an “FM band channel” so that not just the “AM band” listeners could hear your message? Wouldn’t you like to ensure that people stick to your website because it comforts their needs and doesn’t arouse their frustrations? That’s why you, of all people, should care more about Types and begin to ask the question in a new way, “What’s the relevance on the Web?