This is the dichotomy of the physical/psychosocial reality.
Can We Categorize?
Confronted with a reality of such scope and magnitude, it’s natural to want to make sense of it somehow, to put things in boxes, to file phenomena into one category or another. It may be the only way we are not paralyzed by confusion and perceived chaos, stuck in wide-eyed wonderment. But is it worth it to even try and understand?
People are dynamic, multi-dimensional, multi-layered creatures. No two are alike. It would be impossible to try to say that everyone fits into one of, say, seven categories. But we are all still people, confronted with the same physical reality and instilled with the survival instinct, the biological imperative, the desire for acceptance and fulfillment, and the will and ability to affect our own reality.
Pieces of us can and do fit into boxes.
One Box of Many
I’ve been grappling with THEE’s Interacting for Benefit framework for a couple of months now, learning the seven primary ways in which people handle each other when they want something. If I can give any advice to those about to embark on that fascinating journey, it would be to remember that these mentalities are not the whole person. I fell into that trap briefly and I was seeing everyone I know as this-centered or that-centered.
Interacting for Benefit is just that—how we go about dealing with others as we try to better ourselves and our respective situations. That is all. And while this does actually encompass a huge part of who we are on a day-to-day basis, it is far from everything that a person is.
You don’t have to be kinship-centered to love your family. You don’t have to be cause-centered to want to see a change in the world. Countless factors combine to make up you and who you are.
So where do you fit in?
If you read through the framework, without ego, and find that certain mentalities seem like you, they probably are. If you find that you have an aversion to a mentality, you find yourself thinking, “What’s wrong with these people?” That’s not you. Also, it’s a natural reaction to think that they are all you—which is true to an extent—but one or two mentalities tend to dominate an individual. There are countless reasons why this might be the case including your genetic predispositions or the culture you were raised in.
It’s important to remember that those of opposing mentalities do exist. Even if you actively try to avoid them, they’re out there. Chances are that, at some point, you are going to have to interact with them for your benefit. For a more in depth discussion of this concept, refer to the previous blog, “You can’t change people.”
Combined, all mentalities serve many necessary purposes in a well-functioning society.
- Power-centered people are necessary in government, military, and organizations in general. The world needs leaders.
- Perspective-centered people are needed to point out injustice in society or some paradigm that simply isn’t working.
- Market-centered people create wealth and productivity in society.
- Cause-centered people promote change. Things regularly need changing, after all. Etc. Etc.
The first Enlightenment was about science, reason, the power of the individual, ideas, and a distance from superstition. The 21st Century Enlightenment is about self-awareness (who are you?) and awareness of others in a world much larger, more complex, more integrated, and more connected than only Europe and her colonies.
Future blogs are going to look at how people make decisions—just another categorization of a small part of who people are. Understanding people in terms of their Interacting for Benefit mentality and how they make decisions goes a long way in understanding them in relation to yourself and your endeavors.
And to answer the question: Is it worth it to try and understand? For the record, it’s always better to know.