Labeling Ourselves – When We Love It, When We Hate It

Presented by Daria Dorda at IT Matters Conference ONLINE

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So when I was preparing this talk, I decided to start with the labels I put on myself, you know, there's always this this moment when you train with your coach, or when you talk to people that every, every trainer school says you need to build authority. So then you try to figure out what this is actually, that you can, that you know, that gives you the mandate, the opportunity, ability to even talk to people. So when I listed all the labels, that I put on myself, before I start to talk. It's about things I really do. But when I saw the list, it was like, Oh, my God, the backpack is pretty heavy. So probably, there's a little bias that I fell into myself. But fortunately, I find this photo somewhere on my hard drive. And it does remind me that I'm not all that, you know, too much serious, Why so serious, kind of person as that. Luckily, I have some other labels as well. If you will, if you like to share, to type in the labels that you put on yourself, you can you are free to do that. Or you can just start to think about them right now. What is it that you put, you know, like a sticky note on your on your head and what's written on it, and what it does to you. So this is pretty much about me. And before we start and before we go deeper into this topic, I would like to ask you to perform a little mental activity. And we'll get to back that later, at the end of the speech, not right now, but at the end of it. So, as a first step, please think of a person with whom you have some kind of difficulty, emotional difficulty, it can be a partner, someone in your family, maybe your boss in your professional environment. Think about a person and what he or she does that upsets you irritates you, and in generally, in general gives you nerves, I'm going to give you a moment to remind yourself of this person. And I asked you to really visualise, that one, that someone. Put that person in front of your eyes imagine what it is that he does, she does that, you know, gives you a headache. And once you have done that, once you once you can see the person in front of you write down somewhere on a piece of paper or maybe in your work or whatever it suits you best, write down three to five, of that person's qualities, traits. that upsets you most, maybe that someone is lazy, or maybe that someone talks too much, whatever. Just find three to five words that describe that person, you will I will not ask you to share it. It's just do it for yourself. Okay. I'm not going to talk right now for a 30 seconds, one minute just to give you an opportunity to write it down. And to visualise. I think you should have it by now. I hope, just keep this piece of paper or whatever you have notice written it down somewhere. Yeah, somewhere near you will we're going to get to get back to that shortly before the speech closure.

And now a few words about topic itself. Because as a trainer, if there's one certain thing I can say about each and every group that I work with, whether it's a team or a group of individuals, and one certain thing that happens is that people do love to fill in tests, or questionnaires or tools like that. Sometimes it's not real tools, but just some substitutes. But whatever you give them that makes it possible for them to search somewhere deeper in their mind. Or heart and think, okay, who am I? What am I doing here? And then when you present the key, the solution to this test and they get the results, they're excited and they say, yeah, that's pretty much about me. Or they say, "no, it's really not about me, I disagree", and things like that. So we as human beings really love to learn new things about ourselves. And there are many risks behind that fact. And unfortunately, they lay in a responsible use of certain tools. One of them is that I, I didn't have any idea of this test until I took a serious management training programme. Unfortunately, it was organised by I, you know, opinion making and very influential Institute, they claim the programme is wrong, and they claim that this programme is a substitute a practical substitute to MBA studies. So the stake is high, I would say. And they presented as this test, it is described that one as a model of the human psyche, which is principle understood and thought, as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. So you can see the yellow words are very wise, they make us think about science, it's a sentence. Probably, if you would look some information about a tool, you would find that in some article, Wikipedia page, or similar pages, so it looks pretty serious. Now, look how this Enneagram model looks like? or How can it be presented? That's one of the ways. Yeah, the star inside and the lines connecting the numbers. This is your Enneagram personality tool. It is widely described in this in this book by Lee Kingma. But she's not the only author about that tool. Its origins of this tests are really tests, it's not a test of this, something of this tool aren't really known, they seem to be very old, they seem to have a lot of spirituality. Well, it doesn't stand anywhere near science, at the author of this of this particular book, says that, during the years, many serious researchers and psychologists have reviewed the results of the tests and we can be sure that the results that this tests, test gives you are accurate, true, etc. And so I am I guess I'm the helper I there's something in me from enthusiast and loyalist and stuff like that, I have no idea why there is no cat in my personality, because that would be something that I would agree to. But in general, this is what how it looks like, this test. And I wonder why it wasn't stated that the serious research and when I say serious research, I mean that there are articles to be found in scientific magazines, or research base that says, Yes, we've tested that we've tried that. We understand the concept, it works for us as well. So there there should be a meta analysis of such test in order to say yes, it works. That might be one of the reasons why it's not written down. If you would like to, you know, see for yourself, then go to Amazon page, you can you can buy this book and see yourself. And that's Well, I think that the worst example I've ever seen of something that has the nerve to call itself a tool or a psychometric test. But the extreme popularity of many other many different many and similar tools. It's really extreme. On the left side, you can see an integration of those animals spirit star with personality traits or temperament traits. So you can see that there are many other attempts to find way to find I'll find a way how to make money out of basically any idea what what you can see on the right side, I wonder whether you recognise it, I'm going to minimise the presentation for a while to check whether you are still with me on the chat. And whether you recognise the second wheel. Do you recognise this tool with four, four colours with energies described inside? Yeah, inside, inside profiles. Well, bad news is it also doesn't have the right level of so called validity. And, and any tool if it doesn't, if it isn't checked, according to other scientific theories about about personality, and if it doesn't score enough points, it cannot be treated as something are supported by science. That's what I mean. But here, it's a moment worse, where things start to be more complicated, because 'Discover Insights', it actually comes from a personality theory that comes from Gustaf Carl Jung. And so it's not about spirit animals anymore. It is more rooted in science. But when Gustaf Carl Jung was alive, there wasn't enough scientific tools to, to actually check whether this is true or not. But here we are, today with this test, four colours, and people tend to talk to themselves, I am blue. So you have to be you know, you have to be with me, you have to be serious, you have to be, you know, straight to the point, for example, whereas the fiery red are always in rush, they want to do things and I have I, I've seen some companies, maybe you work in one of those where people put their colours under the name in in their signatures. And that is fine, until the very moment when it gets dangerous. But we'll get to that later. In the moment. Here we can see to another ones. And let me ask you again, whether you recognise them The one on the left side and the one on the right side. Do you recognise those two? MBTI? On the right, yeah. And and on the on the right hand side? disc? Exactly. So I've seen you took a lot of tests from away, I did them myself, once upon a time. So it's not, it's not that I'm not willing to say that they are totally wrong, but that they have, that they carry some risks with them when we decide to use them. And what's interesting about those tests, disc and MBTI, they are rooted in this very same concept that Gustav Carl Jung left us with that personality in general can be divided into four sections and that it has to do with some specific behaviours and the way we do things. And if you have done if you have filled in for yourselves The MBTI tests, I'm pretty much sure you're aware of those guys.Y ou probably find your character somewhere around those ones. And I would say that this is pretty much labelling from the from the very beginning, I would say, Okay, I understand the concept and the marketing behind that it is supposed to be funny, people should be able to say, Oh, yeah, that's me. I understand. I know what this guy or lady on this cartoon is doing. But the problem is that it is labelling us.

So in order to before I get to the risks, in order to Yeah, put some order in all the words that we use to describe human behaviour and how people think what they feel. Let me present three simple statements and just explain them very briefly so that we are from that moment on, sure. What we mean when we say and that people that someone has for for instance, choleric temperament, this is a construct that is biological, even, I would even say that physiological, so you are born with a certain temper. And nowadays, that's actually funny because this concept of melancholic, phlegmatic, choleric, and I tend to forget the fourth one, but they're the four types come directly from ancient times. And Hippocrates, and then Garlon, observed people's behaviour, and they categorised them into those four, four types. During, during researchers have tried to study the topic of temperament, they, they discovered multiple types of temperament, once it was 8, then it was 16. But somehow, it always, they always had many, much in common with the original four. So the modern concept of temperament. does agree to that concept of the four basic types that that are, that originated from really ancient times. So as I said, it's biological and what it means is that it is determined by genes. So when you will have if you are parents, and if you have a baby or two little babies, you definitely notice that they come to world with temperament that they behave in a certain way, one child can be can sleep with, without any problems, no sounds will bother them, and other child's will be awake, like every five minutes, because, because the sounds that that it will detect will, will will simply disturb the child. And this is because this is this is biology. It's not something about feelings or behaviours, it is a statement that, that describes why and what do we need, what kind of action from external world word from the environment do we need in order to act and some of us need need this trigger to be really big in order to notice it and start doing things and the others just need some little little signs from the outer world in order to, to start doing things to react, to feel angry, scared, or stuff like that. So temperament is about the way you react to things that happened to you in everyday life, and you cannot really modify it, it is slightly elastic, but during the whole lifetime, and not some short period of time. So that would be temperament.

And there is another word we use, and it is character. That one is easier to understand, I think it's shaped strict straightaway by our environment by our family, homes, schools, countries, the culture of the countries and so on. If it grows with us, our character grows with us because it is a result of our experiences. And yes, you can work on it in order to change it a bit slightly, you cannot change it from zero to one, but you can influence that part of of yourself. And last but not least, his personality and that one's most difficult to explain in short, simple words. So, let me just say that this is this is a highly complex system and it consists both of biology, so temperament and the way we react and experience. So character. The connections between between character personality and temper are still being diagnosed still are the subject of study. So, we cannot be sure what are the linkages, we just know that definitely there are some personality something that is also pretty much stable during your lifetime. And through situations, which means when two similar things happen to you over the course of time, you will most probably react in a similar way. So we have to differentiate we have to know that when we when we speak about character we mean something bit different than I mean, then when we mean personality, and unfortunately, the tests that are shown here, there are just examples, they do not really distinguish it. And they put everything into one colour, which is huge simplification of very complex things.

All right. If that, if that test if those tests aren't really true, then what should we actually listen to and what can be believed? There is one theory. Her Majesty Big Five, I call it because it is, during all of over during the years, I think it starts in even in 70s first studies and first description that led to the theory of the personality theory that we have today. It's been heavily studied and researched by many different researchers, institutions, universities, and stuff like that. So that one's pretty serious, pretty,much built by evidence. And some of the some of the words you see here, I'm sure you know, like extraversion, for example, neuroticism, the other ones may not be that familiar to us, and I will not focus on them that much. Because the term extraversion and introversion, I think it's the one that bothers are us most in our IT branch. And what needs to, to be said is that it's a continuum. It's not a 0-1 situation, that you are an extrovert, but it's a continuum. And to put that complicated stuff into a simple example, if, if we would see each other right now together, face to face somewhere, I know, in Warsaw in a conference room, and I would ask you, are you participants to, to form a line from the shortest person to the top person, just like the famous guys here on the picture here, we would get following results. If you if you can look on the white boxes below, you will see that there is there are few people who are quite short, very few on the other side of the scale, who are really tall, but the majority is average, the majority is somewhere around 170 centimetres of height. And the same would happen if we would measure the scale of extraversion. Right. So some of some of us would be highly extroverted. And the some of us, but little, little amount of us would be extremely introvert, but the majority would be somewhere in between. And somewhere on the average, and what most of the tests including MBTI are doing is that they throw away that the concept that this is a line that this is a scale. So, this is a serious mistake when it comes to scientific approach because it is like, it is like you would say that there is extraversion or nothing. And there is introversion or nothing so 0-1 situation, whereas it's a you can put it on one scale, just like here. So most of us probably, if we would take the Big Five personality psychometric test, most of us would be somewhere around the blue area, probably because we are in the you know, in the branch where really people with more preference to work alone, not necessarily always within teams meet we might have more people next to the next to the introversion end of the scale somewhere beneth the green field, but it wouldn't be you know, it wouldn't be the vast majority. So, what I wanted to say to sum up is that when we take tests, it's very important to remember that people aren't red, or yellow or green or blue, but we are always somewhere inbetween.

And moreover, we react and feel differently depending on whether we are stressed or not. We can react to some people in a day. A different way than to people than to other people. So, it is really not that easy to put people into one into one colour, I would encourage if you are, if you are thinking maybe to use one of the tools that are broadly available on the commercial market to use it within your team, look for those who do not describe certain types, either or extrovert or introvert. But that, but that kind of tools that will show you where you are on the broader range of possibilities. All right, um, a few words about why labelling is so risky and dangerous. Magic really can happen. But the trick is that we put the magic and the spell on ourselves, or other people. Very famous research in 1960 has been conducted, very easy one. In US schools, each year before children start school, they are tested with some IQ tests. So IQ, the the level of their intelligence is measured. So imagine a boy I know let's call him maybe Derek, maybe Derek, this this guy here in the yellow t shirt. And he just started his school, he filled in the papers and his teachers received his results. And let's say that like the majority of people, because same as the situation with being tall or short works for IQ, most people are around the blue scale, the average. So it was for Derek, [he wasn't ]his IQ wasn't too low. It wasn't also too high, he is a regular boy, a child with average IQ. But the researchers has have, have done a little manipulation. And they told their teachers that he among 20% of his colleagues, that he actually has better results than average, which led their teachers to think about him as someone who has better capabilities. Because of that unconsciously, and not being aware of that. teachers gave more attention to direct the belief stronger in his capabilities, what he is able to achieve. And he had more of the attention than his colleagues. And so after eight months, guess what happened when when Derek took the IQ tests, once again, it appeared that his IQ his IQ has been has raised significantly. It The difference was about 24 points in comparison to the basic result, which is a huge difference. And actually, Derek did nothing special about that it was his teachers who because of the label that was put on his forehead that he is maybe a kind of genius, they started to treat him like someone special and more talented than the other kids. And so after eight months, or it appeared that there can be really better at things he was than he was before just because that simple label that was assigned to him. And when I asked myself when I like my labels and when I don't there are certain situations when it suits me then I think of myself of someone very serious knowledgeable and stuff like that. But there are also situations that I don't like this label and the thing is that and the problem is that when when we would treat ourselves like blue ones and the yellow ones then we throw away a whole whole bunch of different situations and possibilities and we start something that is called self fulfilling prophecy. I don't know if you if you know this lady, she was not that long ago quite popular on Instagram.

You know her?We need to finish? Okay, a few minutes. Let me let me finish it's I'm I'm at the at the end already.

What I just wanted to say is that when you look at that lady, you probably would never think that she's a doctor, and a surgeon in a Adelaide Hospital in Australia. So that's another simple example of how we judge people based on their looks. And we are pretty aware of that, that we do that, right? We even have, we even say that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover. And it's much more difficult not to judge people by what they think of themselves. I mean, the labels, right. So finishing and wrapping up. And when you think about the labels that you like, so much, I would like to I would like to look at the piece of paper you have somewhere near you. And look at the traits that you noted down of the person that irritates you, or, or makes you angry.And what I would like to tell you is that those traits are also part of your personality. This is your current Carl Jung would call it a shadow. And only knowing your shadow and the traits that you dislike, and do not accept. Accept, yeah, actually accepting them, that you have them makes you a whole human and not a vampire, but because only vampire doesn't have a shadow, right? And why this is funny and important. Why am I saying is to you, and you might be right now irritated or angry with me because what I'm literally saying to you is that some traits that this person who irritates you that much are in you. And they irritate you because they are in your shadow in your unconscious part of your personality. This is also Gustav Carl Jung's concept, just like the four tools that I've been showing you before. And it's also that we like to accept those the information that seemed to be enjoyable. And we do not tend to accept those which are. Yeah, not that. Not that funny and not that Pleasant. Thank you. That would be that will be all in this topic for today. If you have any questions I'm not sure if we have any time right now? Or do we need to end right then, that to contact me for like,

We do have some minutes left. That was very good. Thank you very much. So I'm going to go into the queue and a mode. And a lot of questions have been asked. Hmm. That's the and let's start with [---] Question. So are the Jungian models, useful as a discussion to keeping away from using them with labels? and [---] also asked this question I remarked on this.

Yeah. I would say yes, I'm, you know, I'm not. I wouldn't dare to say don't use them, it can be ,they can be put into trash. No, but we definitely have to remember that they aren't 100% scientific. And I think it is because of the business models of the different companies because well developed, researched, scientific test costs, like about five euro per person. And if you remember how much cost at your company or yourself, your Gallup test, your disk, well, my MBTI is for free. But some of the tests are pretty expensive, right? And it is because yeah, that's if we don't know what's going on, then it's probably about money. So yes, they are useful as a discussion but what I noticed from my experience from the trainings, even if I say guys, don't be that serious about that I just want you to discuss, to get to know your, your, who you are ,just you know, to maybe form a better team. That isn't always enough because our brain has this tendency to label. So it will happen. Also, if you if we if we would take a serious scientific test the labelling thing would happen as well. But if so then it is much, you know, safer and better for everyone to have a tool that is actually confirmed right than a tool that describes your that you're a cat or a workfit or whatever right?

About the talk

If there is one certain thing I could tell about people while working with them as a trainer, that’s the one: we do love to read and hear about the most intriguing creature we know – that is ourselves. We love to call, think or speak about ourselves using specific, sometimes funny, sometimes odd terms like introverts, extraverts, ambiverts, yellow-thinker, red thinker, hyper activer, visualizer, and lately – the High Sensitive People. You probably have your favorite one to add to the list.This may seem harmless and not serious – like reading a horoscope – who believes in them! Oh… wait…

During this talk, I want to invite the audience to do a little self-scan: what is my favorite label and why do I need it? And as a fan of the evidence-based approach, I would like to show what the scientific approach has to say regarding such labels. I hope that after this talk you would be able to use the tests, quizzes and all other questionnaires with greater benefit to yourself and…those around you.

About Daria Dorda

I am a trainer, in my professional career, I passionately share my knowledge. As a leader, a psychologist, a trainer and coach, I have built and implemented several leadership and talent programs from scratch. With these qualifications and experiences, I dare to say: Nothing good comes from an unprepared leader; neither for the teams nor for the leader.

I teach people and organizations. I love to work with leaders, specialists and whole teams to help them grow. People, their behaviors and dynamics keep fascinating me every day. I value my client’s goals and potential while respecting their readiness to change. Change is the most courageous thing one can undertake.

I am a healthy workplace enthusiast. I believe that “soft skills” aren’t really that soft and are probably ‘harder’ to learn if taken seriously. They are precious skills that don’t allow themselves to be estimated or invoiced, but they will largely decide whether your project & organisation will be successful or not. Together, we have the power to change our organizations and the way we connect with others.

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Daria Dorda


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