Raise your SMV by understanding group dynamics [Wolf Pack]
Guest Post by Pim E.
Joining groups is the best way to improve ourselves, make friends and find our future spouse. All groups follow the same general patterns or group dynamics. Understanding group dynamics is essential to becoming an established, thriving member of any group.
Whomever you choose as peers, you influence them and they influence you in ways obvious and less obvious. It's valuable to understand this. You can use this knowledge to understand why things happen in your social life and how to make the things you desire happen.
The way that we view the world is like trying to bang a nail into the wall with a tool. You could use a screwdriver. It works and it gets the job done, but it's not very good or comfortable. You will often miss the nail and hit your thumb, and then get angry because you don't understand that it's not the world, but your tool, that’s ineffective.
So let's get a better tool. Let’s turn this screwdriver into a big, beautiful clawhammer.
We're going to look at this in three installments. First, we’ll look at you. How are you, as an individual? What are your strengths? What are your pitfalls? What matters to you? What doesn’t? These questions help you to fit into structure, and recognize structure you can’t fit into.
Second, we’ll look at groups. What is a group? How can you join groups? How can you firmly establish yourself as a member?
Finally, we’ll look at groups and you. What roles do you play? How do you pick the right role at the right time? How can you work your way up in a group?
Full disclosure yada yada: I’m a programmer, not a doctor Jim. The perspective and models we’ll be talking about have been useful to me and the people I’ve worked with. They’re useful to me when dating and socializing. They may not be the most useful to you. You may know of many other useful models. At worst this should serve to inspire you to find or come up with better models.
You and your personality
There are many personality models out there. Probably the most famous model is MBTI, but other models like DISC or Enneagream work too, with similar results.
Personality models help you normalize your experience. While you are, of course, a unique snowflake, there are many snowflakes who act and feel similar to you.
The best way to start using personality models is to keep it personal. Especially if you don’t plan to do a lot with it. Don’t try to type others, unless it’s useful to you in the moment. In that case, keep it to yourself. Use it, but be open that you may be very wrong about the other person. Remain curious!
Possible tests you can take:
- MBTI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers%E2%80%93Briggs_Type_Indicator#/media/File:MyersBriggsTypes.png)
- Enneagram (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5344a72ce4b012983d5cf7a8/t/56294560e4b04245ae79c6aa/1445545331498/EnneagramChartOnly.gif)
- DISC (http://www.actionmembers.com/public/partnerpageupload/DISC%20Pie.jpg)
- Big 5 (http://thepsychometricworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/big-five-personality-model.jpg)
Now you are doomed
Once you figure out your type, then you know what you are and are not capable of. This is it, and that is what it will ever be. It’s not possible to grow outside of the bounds of your type. (http://wendykeller.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/man-in-chains.jpg)
As mentioned before, it’s just a model. It’s a tool. Use it, but never as an excuse. Don’t be that person that goes “Oh well, I really am an INFJ, haha”.
Your personality type does not define you, but it does describe your tendencies. Through motivation, connection or discipline you can change a lot of what that means for you in practice. You have a choice to act, even more so now that you know this about yourself.
But understand that your tendencies also bring a lot of good. If you are, for example, a strong Enneagream type 8, then you have a tendency for powerful dialog, but also to overpower people who are not like you. Especially the more introverted types tend to withdraw when confronted with your upfront power. You can use that to your advantage. Learn to control this amazing ability and you can unleash it when it is most effective, or withhold it to sometimes even greater effect.
How to deal with tendencies
You have a choice. The window is short, but you always have a choice. Your acting is always divided between your emotions and your ratio, or rather your amygdala and prefrontal cortex (https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/2/4/303/1676121/Amygdala-frontal-connectivity-during-emotion). You have about a second to decide to act impulsively or controlled. If you are well-practiced this window stretches a bit, and it can become easier to calm down, too.
The problem is that, once the amygdala is fired up, it inhibits the prefrontal cortex. Once you give in to your tendencies you are lost for the moment. The only thing you can do is remove yourself from the situation, and learn from the experience.
Let me repeat this because it is extremely important: Once you start acting out, there is no stopping. The only thing you can do is remove yourself from the situation, calm down and then learn from it.
Often we feel that the thing at hand is very important and has to be dealt with immediately. This is rarely, if ever, the case. It is almost always the correct solution to go meta. If you have read “Real-time relationships” then more power to you. If you haven’t, go read it right now.
Real-time relationships is a great book and I would like to add one thing to it. Because you can not always be honest with everyone, especially if you are surrounded by people you do not (yet) consider your friends. You can still be somewhat honest, but also a little bit manipulative. Instead of saying “I feel angry right now”, you can say “Wait a minute. I feel I am not understanding how I can help you right now. Can we slow down, go back to the beginning, and can you help me really understand what I can do for you?” This approach tends works if you are in service of a team, group or community. It is inferior to real-time relationships for personal relationships.
This approach works because it is focused on the needs of the other. No matter your own personality. However, it requires you to postpone your own gratification. It requires your emotional maturity and curiosity. This can be faked to a degree, and the fake-till-you-make-it will help you grow genuine curiosity.
Once the situation is somewhat resolved and calmed down you can look back and see if there is anything you can get from it. Especially if the other party is somewhat mature they should also understand they can do something to meet your needs. It’s just negotiation and it doesn’t have to make everyone 100% happy all the time.
When to unleash your tendencies
There is great power inside all of us. It manifests in different ways, but it’s similar for people of similar types. But this great power comes with a warning of caution. Unleashing it willy nilly can destroy relationships and reputations. If you have an amazing sense of humor, then being too self-deprecating too often can cause people to see you as a joker. If you have the ability to connect to other people with great intensity, they may start using you to vent about their problems. If you argue with fervor all the time, people may avoid you altogether.
Do it consciously once in awhile. Experiment with it. See how it feels to do it controlled. You have no greater power than in the direction of your natural alignment.
Pick one or more models, get a basic idea of what type you could be and learn a little bit about that type. Does it stick? Then there is a big chance you have a clearer picture of your tendencies. Both positive and negative. I don’t mean to influence you, but I personally am a fan of the Enneagream model.
Keep your type in mind. You can use it later. Next time we will look at group dynamics. If you have any remarks, comments, questions or anecdotes then please leave a comment.