Sundry Insights on My Personal Thinking Style
A. Personal Thinking Style
Personal thinking is usually reflected one’s actions and behaviors. It is frequently considered as the “engine” of an individual’s existence since it is where actions and behavior towards environment, friends, relatives and families reside and is based on (Hurlbert, Koch & Heavey, 2002). However, individuals have peculiarities, and personal thinking also does vary from one being to another. That is why there are a numerous cases concerning psychological behavior and thinking throughout the history of psychology as well as humanity. For example, psychologists have considered serial killers as distinctly different from other individuals. Studies suggest that serial killers often present high levels of intricate, complicated and sometimes twisted styles of thinking that are perennially highlighted in their crimes. Moving on, one step in discerning an individual’s thinking and how it affects personal behavior is through the use and analysis of an LSI paper. Since I am no exception, this LSI helps me understand profoundly my personal thinking and how it affects my behavior. Before explaining my personal style of thinking, it would be best to categorize them into three types of thinking – primary, backup and limiting thinking. In doing so, my personal thinking may be properly and clearly explained. The first point of discussion is my personal thinking.
I consider my personal thinking style to be oppositional, which rationally explains why I am strongly judgmental and critical at times. These tendencies sometimes pose a threat since I often do not go beyond what I perceive and disregard others’ opinions. This predisposition may sometimes be self-serving. Having it my way most of the time, I always seek things and decisions that serve my own motives, and never those that are in contrast with my views. Sometimes, this myopic view of things creates conflicts with people around me. However, when a mistake is made because of my own negligence, I can simply and humbly admit it. When it comes to other people, seeing their mistakes tends makes me scrupulous. Being an individual who criticizes and scrutinizes others’ mistakes other than my own has caused me to put undue pressure on them.
According to TargetLearning (Learning and Thinking Styles, 2008), this character or style of thinking falls into what is categorized as Linear Thinkers. They describe Linear Thinking as a structured approach towards learning. It implies that an individual takes one step at a time and does not go beyond the next stage until he/she completes the stage prior to that. Using this approach, considering that things do not go on as I have planned this somehow impedes me from achieving my goals. In effect, this causes my frustration, irritation and dismay. Putting pressure on others or simply blaming them is somehow a form of coping on my part. It somehow eases the anger and dismay that I hold towards my own failure; that is, by displacing it on other people.
Second, I consider my backup thinking style as perfectionistic. It reflects my perfectionist approach towards my work and also to the people around me. Being a perfectionist, I consider the things that I do and accomplish as a part of myself, or a reflection of my self-worth. Treating it as an extension of myself, my attitude or behavior towards my work could be considered as sensitive and special at the same time. Taking this circumstance into consideration, it could also be observed that my happiness lies on the things that I have committed myself to accomplish. This in turn could turn me into a hardworking, diligent worker and a workaholic even – whose goal is to accomplish every task that is handed on to him. However, being a perfectionist may also negatively affect my relationship with other people. Since this is my behavior towards my work, I solely put my concentration to work or to my tasks, thus creating misconceptions and misunderstandings with the people around me. Such relationships are often seen in organizations who are lead by “slave drivers” or those whose values and attitudes towards work greatly oppose those who work under him/her.
In connection with my primary style of thinking, a mistake that could jeopardize my work could not only hinder the achievement of the goal, but also affect my perfectionistic approach towards work. My reactions to failure include irritation and anger, since the work was undermined and its value was affected. In turn, this affects and causes me to question my own self-worth in the process. According to Epstude and Roese (2007), this kind of personal thinking could be tagged as thinking counterfactual due to its egocentric characteristics; which implies being focused on the actions of oneself and pay little attention to other people. This explains my behavior towards my work and relationship with my coworkers. Furthermore, Epstude and Roese (2007) pointed out that individuals with counterfactual thinking are deeply goal-oriented which greatly influences behavior regulation and management, thus supporting and partly explaining my backup style of thinking.
Lastly, I consider my limiting style of thinking as similar to my backup style of thinking which is perfectionistic. Taking into consideration my backup style of thinking, it could be said that my perfectionistic approach causes me to gauge my self-worth through accomplishment of work or tasks. In this sense, it is expected that I have a high need to have total control of all things that I am involved in. Having such degree of control prevents errors from taking place which in turn influences the value or degree of success that somehow affects my self worth. In order to ensure that success would not be undermined, I tend to exercise power-oriented behavior which reflects my limiting thinking style of being perfectionistic. At the expense of sacrificing relationships, physical and emotional health, I tend to push myself to the limit in order to ensure that things would not divert from my original plans.
Similar to the backup style of thinking, my limiting style of thinking could also be considered as counterfactual thinking, as attested to by the following examples. My limiting style of thinking presents a goal-oriented attitude which regulates my behavior toward myself and other people around me (Epstude and Roese, 2007). In this sense, power oriented behavior co-relates to being a goal oriented person. It regulates my behavior towards my work which is limiting errors and mistakes in order to ensure success. In turn, this greatly affects my self worth. Manifesting power oriented behavior, my limiting style focuses on my actions and disregards others’, displaying an egocentric characteristic (Epstude and Roese, 2007). Focusing solely on my actions and self, I pay little attention to other people thus resulting in poor relationships and exclusion of myself from interacting with them.
These three thinking styles dominate and influence how I run my life, present myself to people around me and my relationship with them. Through LSI, I was able to analyze my personal style of thinking and further know a bit of myself. However, it does not imply that awareness could be a palliative, much less a solution, to the problems presented by my thinking style. However, being aware of these negative attitudes is the first step towards acceptance, then towards deliberate action. Accepting it means that I accept who I am, thus applying remedies or solutions that shall allow me to transform myself.
The following portion expounds on how my personal thinking style affects my management style in the workplace and how my behavior and thinking affects my co-workers.
B. Impact on Management Style
An individual’s thinking could be clearly seen from his/her actions and behavior towards the people around him. Mine is not an exception and it is clearly observed especially at the workplace. As it was indicated in the discussion of my primary style of thinking, being oppositional could elicit negative comments and feedback from people at work. Being highly judgmental and critical often affects other people’s work and they indeed find it very frustrating to work under me. Having an oppositional style as a primary thinking style causes me to undermine the efforts of my subordinates through sarcasm and being skeptical. Just like what I have mentioned earlier, oppositional thinking has imbibed in me the tendency to disregard other people’s ideas and pursue my own. This is clearly an obstacle to being a transformational leader. Much could also be said regarding my being an oppositional manager. However, instead of disregarding others’ opinions, I also bluntly criticize my staff about their idea and question them to the point where I turn down their ideas in an offensive manner. This has caused other people to see managers as “watchdogs”, slowly waiting for the right moment to strike down on other people. According to McGinnis (2007), a human being’s capacity to process information is limited and in order to compensate for it, humans tend to commit judgment shortcuts. Heuristics simplify the decision process but produces biases that affect one’s judgment. In this case, it could be said that most oppositional managers tend to commit judgment shortcuts that make their opinions highly unreasonable and irrelevant (Korte, 2003).
However, being oppositional does not mean that people who work under me only receive negative comments and sarcasm. Being oppositional also allows me to give truthful feedback about individual work. Criticism often points out mistakes and by presenting these mistakes one could clearly see the area that that remains to be improved. In a way, oppositional managers impose upon their subordinates to lessen mistakes and improve their skills in an unconventional way.
Moving on, being perfectionistic both in backup and limiting styles of thinking could be regarded as attributes that account for much of my behavior at the workplace. Although being perfectionist could somehow influence the outcome of my work, there are repercussions that need to be covered and addressed. Apparently, perfectionistic managers often see and cite every detail of the work they are involved with, checking whether things are working perfectly and in accordance with the original plan. However, their concern over these little things sometimes blinds them of their true goal or what they want to accomplish. They often organize goals and plans that do not take into consideration the staff’s involvement, thus creating misunderstandings and conflicts in work. Moreover, being a perfectionist also has implications to one’s self worth. Thus in order to raise up his/her self worth, a perfectionist manager like me would have to ensure that everything works in accordance to what they have planned. This makes them directly involved in the project or task instead of focusing on the strategic and conceptual aspects. Perfectionistic managers assume that if they do not involve themselves, the project will not be properly carried out. However, subordinates are often shunned away from their task and see managers as emotionally isolated since they somehow create an atmosphere of exclusivity.
Although such repercussions exist for perfectionistic managers, these do not imply that it does not motivate subordinates to do their jobs more meaningfully and creatively. According to TheLearningEngine (Personal Development, 2008), behavior styles toward work could influence other people around him especially those who share the same outlook towards work. In this sense, it could be said that perfectionistic managers like me may motivate other people by sharing or presenting to the things that I expect to reach at the end of the project. Expectancy, according to Vroom (1964), could motivate one individual to produce the best out of him through if the manager has effectually managed his expectations. In a general sense, a perfectionistic manager does not use his superiority or coerce his subordinates to accomplish these tasks but instead motivates them through sharing his personal expectations regarding the project. This characteristic is further emphasized by perfectionist managers who directly become involved in the project, thus creating an atmosphere of collaboration and team work.
In my opinion, in some sense, being an oppositional and perfectionistic manager could produce the best out of subordinates. Being an oppositional and perfectionistic manager may compel employees, testing them out whether they are really passionate and serious towards their work. If an individual is serious about work, he should be willing to take constructive criticism, enduring and embracing it in order to improve. However, those who cannot endure such criticism, may just quit. Although these negative implications could not be disregarded, the positive side should be equally considered. Being an oppositional and perfectionistic manager does have its benefits and drawbacks.
C. Genesis of Personal Thinking Style
One’s personal style of thinking is a product of interaction with different kinds of people, social institutions and our own education. I shall proceed by analyzing how my personal thinking styles both primary and secondary has been developed through my involvement with sports all throughout my school years. In this case, the sport would be baseball – however, before explaining its contribution to my personal style of thinking, it would best to explain what values and mentality sports brings to an individual. Sports in general could be considered as competitive and when it comes to team sports it would be teamwork and trusting one another. On the other hand, individual sports elicit independence and trust and esteem in oneself (Thought Control, 2008). Since baseball is considered as a team sport, teamwork and trust with one another would be highlighted. In my case, being involved in baseball motivated and developed my oppositional and perfectionistic thinking.
First, being able to admit my mistakes could be traced to the importance of team work in baseball. In this sport, everyone has his own accountability. If one commits a mistake that somehow jeopardizes the team’s success, the only way to redeem oneself is by admitting my personal mistake. Second, putting pressure on other people because things are not going as expected or planned could be attributed to team play. Somehow, when things go awry and way out of plan, I often see other people as the culprit. This leads to the third reason why I consider baseball as an important contributor to the development of my personal style of thinking. It would be my perfectionistic approach to things. Being in a sport wherein teamwork and cooperation is one of the drivers of success, each one should do his part and every play should be practiced and memorized in order to be carried out successfully during the game. To ensure that all things go as planned, I make sure that I am involved in every play and make sure that my teammates would execute each move correctly. However, as mentioned, this makes me lose big picture thinking at work and even causes me to micro-manage.
I have realized that our thoughts greatly affect our body and actions which in turn explain our attitude and behavior towards things. In my case, my experience with baseball has transcended beyond the sport itself and manifested in my behavior towards work.
D. Conclusion and Reflection
The foremost value that this exercise has taught me would be the importance of knowing oneself. Both my personal and professional outlook and behavior have been critically assessed through examples and using other studies to explain the relationship between my thinking and behavior. Through this, I have gained more knowledge about myself, the negative and positive aspects of my thinking style, and has garnered greater self-acceptance in the process. Accepting the real me will motivate me to improve my mistakes. Lastly, I learned to value the fact that my self worth need not lie on accomplishments, but instead in the experience that I gained and the number of lives that I have touched and made a difference in, in the process.
When it comes to changing a bad habit from among my subordinates, this would be their lack of appreciation, passion and seriousness about the job. Since I consider myself as a perfectionistic manager, I tend to impose on my subordinates the passion that I hold towards my work and the expectations that I want to see upon the completion of the project. I want them to learn how to be serious, how to give their best and be responsible for what they do – in turn, the discipline and passion inculcated in them may somehow help them to be better professionals. On the other hand, I want to change or lessen my perfectionistic style. While it somehow helps me produce good results, it has bred in me the tendency of attaching my self worth to my accomplishment. By continuing to see work as a representation of my self worth, then I would continue to undermine the value of what really matters in life. I would also like to acknowledge other people’s opinions more and cease to be dogmatic in my way of thinking. It is somehow ironic and difficult in the beginning to change a substantial part of me; however, I firmly believe that this would be beneficial for building better character in the long haul.
Upon the completion of this LSI paper, I see myself as slowly transcending into a better person. The essence of knowing oneself more has allowed me to “step out” and evaluate myself objectively. I had to see myself both from within and from without. The reflection has raised awareness and the keen impetus to change for the better. For all these, the exercise was definitely worthwhile.
Epstude, K. & Roese, N.J. (2007). Beyond rationality: counterfactual thinking and behavior regulation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(5).
Hurlbert, R.T., Koch, M. & Heavey C.L. (2002). Descriptive experience sampling demonstrates the connection of thinking to externally observable behavior. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 26(1), 117-134.
Korte, R.E. (2003). Biases in decision making and implications for human resource development. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 5(4), 440-457.
Learning Styles and Thinking Styles. (2008). Retrieved on September 20, 2008 from http://www.targetlearning.net/learningstyles.html
McGinnis, K.S. (2007). Organizational behavior and management thinking. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Personal Development. Retrieved on September 20, 2008 from http://www.thelearningengine.org/Assessments.htm
Vroom, V. (1964). Work and Motivation. New York: Wiley.