Counseling young children is often challenging, sometimes serious and sad but sometimes it is just plain fun. This week I had Marci, a second grader, come to see me for help because her friend, Stacy, was mad at her. If you work in an elementary school you know this is a common occurrence. I asked her what happened. Here's how her story went: They were in PE and Stacy thought that she got in trouble but really she didn't get in trouble, Marci was the one who got in trouble, so now Stacy was mad at her. Does this seem logical to you? Me neither, so I asked Marci to repeat the story. She did and then using my best counselor "what I hear you saying" technique I repeated it back to her. "Marci, you are telling me that Stacy thought she got in trouble in PE but really you are the one who got in trouble so now Stacy is mad at you...is that correct?' She nodded adamantly. My response? "Marci, that's pretty unusual because most people don't get mad when they don't get in trouble; most people get glad when they find out they aren't in trouble! Here's my advice: tell Stacy she is being silly, get over it and let's be friends." Want to know Marci's response? She looked relieved, smiled and took off to renew her friendship. I wish all the problems we face could be solved so easily.
I've been writing a lot lately about the DISC profile and understanding your own personality, but one of the advantages of learning about different personalities is learning to appreciate and even celebrate our differences. When confronted with someone with a very different personality style, our first inclination is to tolerate them if necessary or preferably, avoid them with the hope of eliminating them from our life altogether. Once you understand the personality differences though, it is possible to come to the place of appreciating our differences in a new way so that we can work together peaceably and productively. A friend of mine was commenting on learning about the DISC through a workshop at work and she said the biggest benefit for her was realizing that people don't act the way they do because they are 'jerks', they do it because it is their personality type. Once she realized that, she could appreciate and even celebrate their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses. In order to do this we must first understand ourselves and then understand and communicate with each other. Just like with Marci and Stacy, our friends' differences don't always make sense, but we can continue our friendship nevertheless.