Everything we do in life is a preference, and we can adapt, change and enjoy someone else’s preferences.
Do you like Coffee or Tea? Fish or meat? Winter or summer? Have you ever sat through a film you don’t enjoy? Have you ever been somewhere is not your choice? Our lives are all about choices and those choices are made based on our preferences. But the great thing about preferences is that we can change them or adapt to have a better life.
This week I had the opportunity to take a group of people through an activating involving understanding yourself and others through preferences. I hadn’t facilitated this subject for a long time and talking about it again this week has made me think about the importance it has in our lives.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a tool used by many to understand your preferences and how you operate within a frame of these preferences. It is an excellent tool that helps people understand their preferences and how these affect they way the live, work and interact with others. There are no right or wrong types and it allows you to take a look at yourself and understand how much these influence your life and those around you.
But what is a preference? Often people get confused when you do this activity, as we all like to be seen in a certain way. In other words, we adapt or change our preference just to please someone, survive in our jobs or get by in our day-to-day lives. But when you do Myers Briggs the only way to find out what your preferences are is by being true to yourself, what I call true to your Myers Briggs type. And these preferences explored in MBTI are very different to each an every one of us but often we share commonalities with others.
Let me give you an example of what a preference is. Take your arms and fold them, as if you are waiting for the bus to come. Go ahead; do it. What arm do you have on top? The right or the left? Now try to fold your arms again but this time put the other arm on top… I bet if you are doing this right now you are struggling! Have you every worn your watch on the other hand? If you have it, go ahead and swap it and you will feel how heavy it is! It hasn’t suddenly become heavier, it is just simply that you are not used to wear it on that side and it feels awkward. If you leave it long enough you will soon forget it is there, until someone asks you the time! Because you will look at your preferred hand.
These preferences become our habits, the way we like to do things. And the moment something does not fit our frame of work, our preference, it throws us off. As I was walking the participants through some of the explanations on the differences between each preference, some of them became more and more confused. “I like both” some times people say when doing this exercise. And they are quite right to say so; in many instances people have not clear preferences for certain things. You can go all your life liking both tea and coffee equally, with no clear preference for either of them.
So why is this so important and why should you care about your preferences? Self-awareness of your preferences is a gateway to your success both in your private as well as your professional life. Take your work for instance, your preferences, they way you operate; these have a massive impact in how much you really enjoy what you do. You tend to find jobs and professions that match they way you like to live your life, and when you don’t, you have to adapt to get the job done. This does not mean you can’t work in any job, of course you can, but your preferences will determine how easy or hard performing your job will be. If you are someone who prefers talking things through before you action them, you need to work in an environment that allows you to interact with people so you are able to share your ideas. If on the other hand you prefer to think things though by yourself before you talk to anyone else, you defiantly need to be in a job where individuality is an integral part of the work environment.
But the good news is that you can always learn! Yes the great thing about this theory is that we can all drink tea and coffee (unless you have a particular allergy!) we just need to get used to the taste, and when there is nothing else, you learn to like it!
Tolerance plays a great part here too. If you live with someone whose presences seem to be opposite to yours, if you really want to stay around, you need to adapt, you may need to move away from your preferred comfort zone and join the other person. This takes a great deal of effort and sacrifice but brings high levels of satisfaction and harmony with those around us. It is a game of give and take and we all expect that if we need to change to maintain harmony in our relationships, others we also need to be encouraged from time to time to do the same!
For me talking about it this week has reminded me how important it is to be tolerant of other people’s preferences and make an effort with those around us, both at work and at home, to ensure we bring a balance to the way we live our lives.
Take a moment to explore how you deal with this, what is your reaction when you are asked to do something you are not comfortable with? When you have to do an activity you would never chose? Or how about when you have imposed on others how you like to do things? Life is about choices, and those choices are determined by our preferences, sometimes you will have to make choices that may not fit around your frame of mind, but will help you flourish that relationship which is so important to your success and a happy life.