Lorraine McCarthy, Counsellor/Coach, Human Synergistics Australia

If in our LSI 1 we describe ourselves as moderate to high on Approval Style we are telling ourselves that it is more important to please others than to please ourselves. Visually I can picture our unique and creative self facing the world with anticipation and creativity. Our adapted self, the one who is so good at describing us and therefore telling us how to be, stands with their back to us, ignoring our ideas and needs while making sure everyone else is OK. When someone stands with their back to us we don't have a hope of being seen or understood by them. If all or most of their energy is directed outwards to others, there is often little left for us.

Following the analogy of seeing ourselves as a child, we can appreciate that if we ignore a child and focus on the needs of others instead, they are likely to believe they are not worthwhile and lose confidence in their own ability. It is easy to see that over time they might come to describe themselves as 'vague and uncertain'.

Approval Style is a style I know well. I have watched it in myself over the years and try to be mindful of how it manifests in my behaviour. Still, if I am being honest in my LSI 1 I have to give myself a 2 to 'generous to a fault' and 'spoils people with kindness'. Sometimes I am obsessively so and the consequence is always that there is nothing left over for me, not energy nor time nor possessions. It is one of the most common styles that people score highly in. It is easy to see how it is developed in us from childhood, the feeling of being praised for helping is wonderful. The discomfort of being in trouble is awful. We will always do whatever it takes to increase pleasure and reduce pain, and pleasing others is a sure way of doing this.

While it can be said that we all enjoy being liked by others, some of the items show the extent to which being liked has become essential to us: 'needs others' approval', 'needs to be liked by everyone' and 'upset if not accepted by others' are pretty strong statements.

Whatever we consider to be the benefit of focussing our time and energy on being liked by others, the cost to us is huge. What about us?

The item at the top of the list, most strongly related to effectiveness is 'wants to be trusted but its hard'. In giving ourselves a 1 or 2 to this item we are admitting that we have lost our belief that we can gain others trust by being who we are. What a sad situation. How exhausting to be constantly evaluating ourselves in terms of what others think of us.

Imagine how lovely it would be if we turned around to face ourselves instead of always looking outwards to others: to see and appreciate the wonderful intrinsic value we have in ourselves, to notice, to care. How empowering. What fun.

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