If our children are to approve of themselves, they must first see that we approve of ourselves.
(Maya Angelou ‘Rainbow in the Cloud’ 2014)
In my experience, one of the things that helps get me back on track when I am feeling I can do nothing ‘right’, is to remind myself that there are certain things that come naturally to me and others that I have to be more intentional about. In other words, knowing (and approving of) myself helps me to better understand and approve the difference in others.
There are many tools that can help us do this. Some are quite complex, and I personally like that complexity! At some point I will introduce you to some of these. However, we don’t always have the time or energy to work with such complexity, so let me introduce you to a tool that is simple to use and has stood the test of time.
I am going to call it The Four S’s. The thinking around this tool traces back to an Ancient Greek medical theory. You may have heard the terms sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic which were coined by the Greek physician Aelius Galenus to describe different human behaviors. There have been many different iterations of this since that time. I have been thinking about a way this could be used to create helpful interactions within and between families.
Let’s consider that People are Most Likely to Respond in One of Four Different Ways to Situations and Interactions – Adults, Young People and Children:
- Spontaneous & exuberant – enthusiastic, outgoing, talker
- Shaker & mover – loves to lead, decisive, productive
- Steady & peaceable – balanced, diplomatic, patient
- Specific & meticulous – detailed thinker, facts based, scheduled
Here’s What Each Type Needs to Help Them to Feel Respected and Valued – Approved of:
- Spontaneous & exuberant – attention, affection, acceptance
- Shaker & mover – credit, loyalty, appreciation
- Steady & peaceable – respect, harmony, valued
- Specific & meticulous – sensitivity, space, silence, support
And so, we can explore many more aspects of each type – how they communicate and like to be communicated with, what are the particular strengths and areas that can be improved in.
Please remember, this is not a formal diagnostic tool – it is a simple way of looking at yourself and the people you live with to understand why some things work and some don’t. It can provide some tips on how to better meet the needs of each person to make communication more effective.