Box, Triangle, Circle, Squiggle… or Rectangle?
It was a stroke of genius to highlight the rectangle when Dr Susan Dellinger created “Psycho-Geometrics®”. Psycho-Geometrics® offers us five shapes as representations of five distinct communications styles. There is the Box, the Triangle, the Circle, the Squiggle (looking like a soft lightning bolt or a curving, flowing river), and the Rectangle. The first four shapes are found in the art, architecture, and symbolism of all Continents – throughout the ages. The fifth shape, the Rectangle, is a transitional shape – perfectly representing these challenging times where we are no longer clear of our limits, limitations, or boundaries.
You Can Choose the Shape You’re In:
I wonder which two shapes you would choose? Which would be your first choice? Which would be your second? Choose before reading further…
Communication, Learning, Thinking and Feeling
Susan’s communication styles also map well to learning styles, and thus to thinking styles. If you are familiar with Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles, then you’ll understand when I suggest that the Box is like the Theorist. The Box frames communication in terms of detail, analysis, and process. There’s always a plan, a back-up plan, and a purpose. This style is deliberate in every matter it approaches. In fact it deliberates before it takes any action. The Triangle is a little more pointed in its behaviour and communication style, and a lot faster. This is the decision-making style of the Pragmatist. Practical, sometimes ruthless, always to the point.
The shapes which I call “below the line” are the Circle and the Squiggle. These have elements of Carl Jung’s “Feeling” preference whereas the “above the line” shapes of the Box and the Triangle are stronger on Jung’s “Thinking” preference. To frame communication through the round window, through the Circle, is to be inclusive of people*. If this is the shape of your strength, you will be people-focused – with a circle of friends, a circle of influence, and you’ll “move in circles”. Being inclusive and emotionally intelligent obviously takes a lot of time, so this wheel turns very slowly compared with the Triangle. You can well imagine how the two styles can clash in meetings since they are completely out-of-synch with one another. The Circle is closely aligned with Honey and Mumford’s Reflector. Introspection is strong with the Circle – and, as such, they can be tormented souls.
The Squiggles have no-frame. We’ve seen square windows, arched windows, and round windows through which people look out at the World – but the soft lightning of the Squiggle is frameless, dynamic, instant, spontaneous… and potentially dangerous! The lightning is so fast, making intuitive leaps between sky and earth, that the other shapes can be left confused as to how the Squiggle style reached a conclusion or decision – or chose a bizarre course of action. Who knows where the lightning will strike next? This is close to Honey and Mumford’s Activist – and in fact Squiggles are restless creatives – unable to sit still physically or intellectually.
The Wisdom of Rectangles
And so to the Wisdom of Rectangles… Rectangles are at the core as the hub shape – neither above the line nor below it. They represent the flexible frame of the shape-shifter, the psychological chameleon – adjusting as they see best to the needs of the presenting situation. This can be “reactive” – which is stressful – or “pro-active” – which is liberating. Rectangles can take on the form of any other shape in the twinkling of an eye. They pace to build rapport and deep understanding, then they lead.
Many businesses in the UK (and I’m sure around the Globe) have been forced into a Rectangular style through what we call “PESTs” – the Political, Economic, Social, and Technological trends of this decade. The mistake is to perceive the need to shape-shift as a bad thing. It is the Human way to bring order out of chaos. When our social, economic, or political systems move into chaos we reorganise and establish a higher order of balance. Whilst there are always casualties, those who flex pro-actively using the Wisdom of Rectangles will come out stronger than ever before. The threats that formerly intimidated their businesses will be easily overcome.
I’m not pretending the process is pleasant… but it is our very nature to create order out of chaos. Years back there was an excellent James Bond movie called, “The World Is Not Enough.” This didn’t go far enough. The Wisdom of Rectangles says, “The World Is Not Good Enough!” and then seeks to take theoretical, reflective, pragmatic action to change the World.
So here is my recipe for success in this area: use the Wisdom of Rectangles to pro-actively flex your style to the immediate needs of the situation, and then to make sure that you’ve used all four core styles:
- Go Boxy to work out the facts, ask the penetrating questions, challenge the status quo
- Get to the point by looking through the Triangular frame – define your goals, analyse the gap, and plan out the practical action steps
- Think ecologically, globally in the style of the Circle. Saying, “Yes!” to one course of action inevitably means saying, “No!” to another – we only have 168 hours a week to make a difference after all! So what will the consequences of your action be? Whom will they affect? Think long-term. Reflect. Today’s bright idea can become tomorrow’s nightmare and regret without adequate pause for reflection
- Then, when you’ve decided, strike with enthusiastic action! Squiggles are known for their contagious enthusiasm and inner drive. This is at the heart of self-sustaining-motivation, and the way to inspire others.
Applying the Wisdom of Rectangles will save your business and turn you from a “survive” to “thrive” paradigm. Hold on, I’m shifting…