Unpacking the Online Shopping Delivery Example

An example of how Type Interaction Styles can play out when two people receive the online shopping delivery.

This becomes an interesting, and even exciting, event when the people involved have different interaction styles and are not paying total respect to the differences. It’s probably hysterically funny to watch, if you’re lucky enough to be a fly on the wall, perhaps less so, if you’re a busy delivery driver standing in the cold and the rain with few viable options for escape.

The four Interaction Styles are another practical way of accessing Type in a straightforward and meaningful way. The links below give the background to this model and its derivatives. Linda Berens, who’s US-based, is probably the most prominent person in this area worldwide and Catherine Stothart, based in the UK, is another leading authority. You can just read the story or, if you’re interested in the theories and models, try the links first.

Linda Berens

Catherine Stothart

If you know your Myers-Briggs Type four-letter code, try using this link for more on temperaments and interaction styles An Easy Guide

Let’s return to the online shopping delivery. We have a chart-the-course/navigator (N) Type working, and I use the term loosely, with a-behind-the-scenes/synthesiser (S) Type.

Two hours before the expected delivery.

S: “I placed an online shopping order yesterday and it arrives shortly”.

N: (Cornered, there’s simply no escape, knows and dreads what is coming.)

S: “Will you get the door when it arrives.” Comment: this is true behind the scenes stuff.

N: Thinks “why?” but OK if it matters (it doesn’t to me). Comment: swift agreement is the optimal route and plan to getting this unpleasant job done quickly.

S: “I’ll put everything away if you bring it up to the kitchen.” Comment: gives S control over where everything goes (done knowingly as N’s item placement tends to be, well, somewhat random and intuitive).

N: Thinks “that was rather obvious but it’s clearly an important matter to you.” Comment: going along silently, if somewhat grudgingly, is still the optimal route, so N says nothing. N thinks “stay with the plan”.

Delivery arrives.

N answers door and greets delivery man courteously (it is important to S that this is done correctly, accurately and with large amounts of empathy). There’s a brief pause while N has an internal debate on ferrying items a few at a time to S in the kitchen or carries the four crates upstairs and risks his bad back. On balance, four journeys is better than twelve so the crate option is selected helped by the prodding of the delivery man whose Type preferences cannot possibly be identified as it is early morning and the poor soul is probably a little cold and wet standing in the light rain (it’s May in the west of Scotland). The crate option has the added advantage of keeping S under pressure (won’t want to keep the delivery man waiting longer than necessary) so the temptation to offer a running and very detailed commentary on the appropriateness or not of each item selected by the supermarket staff is hugely reduced.

The four crates are emptied and returned to the waiting delivery man who is asked when he started work and when he will finish. Sympathy about the weather is also mentioned with considerable emphasis (S is within earshot although busily distracted longingly and lovingly selecting the correct home for each and every item one at a time).

The delivery van leaves.

N feels much relief that all has gone well and that the plan worked, this is, of course and sadly, a misplaced presumption. N enters kitchen where, with the pressure off unpacking, the detailed, long and exhaustive commentary on every item, its condition, packaging, label changes … has started. N feels panic coming on. N reaches for his Type knowledge in total desperation. S is highly suspicious about all things Type (N does have a wee bit of a tendency to talk about it a lot) and relies more heavily on Astrology (S is Gemini and N a “boring” Capricorn – quotation marks belong to S. N realises that he must respect S’s need to explain why each and every item was required how it is to be stored, when it might be used and why other items didn’t get selected or make the final cut (S placed the order). Silent (but long) perseverance pays off and sometime later (discretion stops me from mentioning exactly how long BUT N DOES KNOW) S moves onto another topic. This N takes as the end of the project and finally departs amazed at what he has learned about supermarket label changes and an incredible range of other supermarket and retailing issues he’d never realised mattered or given much thought to.

N starts to plan how he can be absent for the next scheduled delivery. S starts to examine why N was so quiet throughout the whole project.

For N it’s all about navigating through a potentially explosive, irksome and unpleasant job as quickly, calmly and effortlessly as possible. For S it’s all about synthesising the order selections with the needs of members of the household, care for the environment and financial probity and a long list of other research items that N has quickly and carelessly forgotten.

In the last analysis, N’s Type knowledge helped enormously and all ended well.

Both sets of preferences are required here for the best results and probably combined well in this instance. N on his own may have been too task orientated and S on her own may have taken much longer than necessary. What N and S may have been missing or overlooking could have been what the other two interaction styles would have brought to the party (I’m easily pleased).

An Energiser would have brought even more, charm, fun and energy and a Mobiliser would have cut the time in half with a determined focus on the end result. On the other hand, this possibly would have led to much more difficulty than this everyday task really required. As someone once (sorry, I don’t have a reference) noted, teams are really only required for complex puzzles where there is no obvious solution and where different and contrasting perspectives may produce exceptionally unique and new options.

As is usually the case, the process of writing this blog has given the author pause for thought and reflection about what he might need to do a wee bit more and a wee bit less of to be more balanced and human.

For those interested in their own development and wish to access the world of Type for inspiration, there are several levels at which it can be accessed.

Level 1 might be as simple as understanding the different ways in which those with extraverted and introverted preferences use and gain energy.

Level 2 can be about the four temperaments (see previous blog on Menu Choices) and the four Interaction Styles.

Deeper levels can introduce you to Jung’s eight functional attitudes (what he wrote about in Psychological Types in 1921) and the 16 Myers-Briggs Types. Depth Typology and Socionics open up even more comprehensive options.

Restaurant Menu Choices

A light-hearted look at what happens when the menus arrive at the restaurant table from a Type standpoint.

One of the easiest ways of using Type preferences in every day life is through the temperaments that most people, in my experience, relate to easily and comfortably. Guardians are the great protectors. Artisans the highly skilled specialists. Idealists the perfectionists. Rationals the chasers of efficiency. It’s relatively easy to slot the people you know into one or another category.

I’m a rational (R) in this model but someone close to me with whom I’ve visited restaurants regularly is an artisan (A).

Here’s how this goes.

Waitress “Hi, here are your menus and today’s specials are … I’ll be back in five minutes”.

R thinks “won’t need five minutes.” Whilst A thinks “yeah, right”.

Waitress reappears “Ready?” R looks at A who’s now melting down and says “we’ll need more time thank you”.

A to R “what are you having?”. R “fish and chips”. A now starts a long, detailed and complex, granular conversation about all the possible combinations and then remembers the specials too. This may go on for some time. R starts to melt down. A detects R’s discomfort and begins to panic. A adds to the confusion with “could I have some of yours too?”.

For R the menu choice is simple, what do I like and what did I have recently? It’s a transaction, uncomplicated and free of danger. For A it is an sensational experience where the smells and sounds wafting from the kitchen, the plates for other tables passing by, the colours of the options on the menu and the necessity of having to make a choice at all is something to be savoured almost more than the eating bit. For R, the eating bit is way more important than the choosing bit. The fear of making a mistake is also ever present for A. R is less concerned about that because refusing to pay is always a logical option if disaster strikes. Heaven for A is a buffet where everything can be tasted and tried and especially if it’s one of those places where there are no limits on seconds. For the practically minded R, buffets look suspiciously like excuses for wasting time and money.

It’s a humorous and light hearted example of how Type can play out unexpectedly but also how R and A have come to understand their differences and to see the benefits of each. So, they ate happily ever after.

So if you’re in a restaurant with a Guardian, don’t be surprised if she won’t try something new or novel. If you’re with an Artisan, be patient with him whilst he considers and exhaustively researches every possibility. If your companion is an Idealist, expect morally sound and politically correct choices. And if you’re stuck with a Rational, marvel at the speed and the efficiency with which he misses all the best deals and menu combinations!