Friday, October 3, 2014
Language and Personality Part 1: Adversative Words
Language and Personality: Adversative Words
by Peter Hyatt
"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks..."
How we speak reveals who we are.
A few years ago, a company capitalized on this fact claiming to help improve one's vocabulary, in order to make a better impression upon others.
Unfortunately, good vocabulary comes from reading and reading takes time and effort, and is not the 'past time', culturally, that it once was. Reading to children, before they are able to read (or even speak), seems to help create a love of books, which whether it be in electronic or paper form, remains key to education and language growth.
A poor vocabulary leaves a poor impression. We can complain that we should not be judged, all the day long if we wish, but people will continue to judge us, first on appearance, and then upon our language.
In the very least, we should consider that since we cannot stop others from judging us, we can influence that judgement.
Did you ever notice how people that are dressed a certain way have an easy time in stores when they are making returns?
I've tried it, in both jeans and a t shirt, and in a suit. It's always easier, even without question, while wearing a suit.
Language reveals us, and coarse or inappropriate language, for example, in a business setting, will leave an impact upon peers, customers, or our superiors, whether we like it or not.
As language reveals us, a personality trait may appear. This is, in effect, a kind of profiling, that is, of collecting data (if only in our brains) about the type of person speaking to us, as we listen to his words.
I. Personalty Type: Impulsive Control
Have you ever met someone who is very impulsive? This is the kind of person that often "leaps before he looks" and will jump in, both feet first, often with enthusiasm, but little pre-thought. Where might this person fit in your company?
Impulsive individuals can be successful, for example, when the right fit is made, according to their personality type. Some might do well in environments where aggressive sales is necessary, whereas other sales positions might be better suited for pensive, thoughtful, careful employees.
Personalty types do emerge from language.
In studying pronouns, we sometimes see that those in positions of authority, often drop the pronoun "I" in their memos, or emails, opting for either a missing pronoun, or the pronoun, "we", which can be, in some settings, distancing language.
But what of the impulsive type of personality that may even be aggressive, or disagreeable?
What of a subject who lacks impulse control? Can he be identified in the employment interview?
In Statement Analysis, we have noted that the word "but" is often used to compare, via a form of negation, two or more things. "I'd like to do that for you but..." and we say: "Always note the words that follow "but" as very important."
This can negate that which preceded it, or it can minimize, via comparison.
What if your position requires someone who is thoughtful and pensive, and must use critical thinking but specifically, "look" before one "leaps" and make careful decisions?
Langauge can identify poor impulse control in people.
The "Adversative" words are: "but, however, nevertheless..." and so on.
Subjects with poor impulse control are noted to use these words in abundance.
It is not likely that you counted the number of times you heard these words from someone, but I am betting that you have met someone like this, and you felt a certain uneasiness about the person, and wondered why.
You would likely not be surprised if later on you learned that the person you thought to be "difficult", even though you only spoke a short time, is actually one with poor impulse control, and the "adversative" words were 'getting to you' a bit.
These are often found in intuitive individuals who do very well with training in Statement Analysis and in Analytical Interviewing. Studies have shown, even among hospitalized individuals with poor impulse control, an excessive use of such words.
II. Personality Type: Obsessive Compulsive
What about someone with Obsessive Compulsive tendencies?
Again, a person with obsessive compulsive traits can be very useful, particularly when placed within the proper work environment, just as they can drive others crazy when placed in inappropriate or ill-fitted situations.
The person with obsessive compulsive tendencies can become quite anxious when attempted to resolve himself to stopping the habit. Many are "logical" to a fault, and must find a "reason" to repeat apparent senseless acts, such as hand washing, or checking and rechecking to see if the back door is locked. These types will often argue, even to himself, to justify or find a reason why the repetitive behavior is maintained.
What do we hear in their speech?
"So, since, therefore, because...." and so on.
They continually offer reasons for what they do in senseless repetition. These are words we highlight as sensitive, if the subject is asked, "What?" rather than "Why?", while feeling the need to justify action.
In what may appear to be 'mind-blowing' tedious labor, can be actually fulfilling to the subject, which is why the manager or supervisor must not project his or her own personality into the subject, particularly while attempting to be empathetic.
The poor impulse subject has a need to "oppose" others, and act upon the first impulse (poor "over the board" chess players, yet better at "Blitz" chess).
Human Resources, skilled in interviewing, can, therefore, find proper placement for the prospective employee (if the subject has been truthful in the interview process, therefore, not weeded out) that will benefit both company and employee.
How can Human Resources accomplish this?
a. open ended questions
b. specific exercise
a. open ended questions.
In Analytical Interviewing, we ask questions beginning with the legally sound, open-ended questions and move on to the analysis questions (from the written statement) and so on. This is exciting in training and quite useful. Even questions such as:
"What is your favorite movie?" will get someone speaking, with the goal to have the subject enter the "Free Editing Process", where he chooses his own words and we listen.
b. The Ten Minute Exercise
This can be a lot of fun.
Using your stopwatch, timer, or your iPhone, ask someone to speak, non-stop, about anything they wish to talk about.
Both healthy and individuals with mental illness can do this for about 10 minutes without difficulty. (Recently, someone did this to me, without stopping, for 48 minutes).
As the subject speaks, the Interviewer (HR, investigator, therapist) writes down the critical words and will be able to get a start on a profile of the subject by the words the subject uses.
The Interviewer is taught to write down adversative words (even in a number count!) as well as the "why" words, and note any words that are repeated.
It is not as difficult as it might sound, as the Interviewer becomes more experienced, since this is an exercise that can be practiced at work. (Recall the counting of words that follow "no" in a "yes or no question" format, and how this can reveal deception.)
The interviewer will soon learn that based upon the words, alone, gender will arise.
Do you have young children?
Do you have grown children?
This is something you can even do with your children, noting how the younger the child, the more use of "I" versus "we" and, you may even discover, that when you view old video tapes of your children who are now grown:
they will be able to differentiate which voice belongs to them and...
speech patterns will show similarity to the adult child.
Next up: How to spot a negative, problem bringer, in your employment interview.