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What if reading someone’s personality simply required the ability to recognise body-based clues?

July 13th, 2017.

Such ability would be tantamount to having a form of x-ray vision that provided leaders with a framework for understanding something about the psychological landscapes of others. It could be a map for reading the strengths and motivations of colleagues while also increasing awareness of what their challenges, hooks and triggers might be. A psychometric such as this would provide people with tools for adapting and connecting that would be immediately available and require no formal profiling instrument.

It turns out such a methodology does exist. American physician and psychotherapist Alexander Lowen developed Bioenergetics based on Wilhelm Reich’s breakthrough work on embodied character. Bioenergetics is a body-mind psychometric that asserts the way we develop our adult bodies, is informed by events both present and missing from our early childhood. We experience challenges in early life that have us form habits and patterns in both our muscular armoring (body), and psychological defenses (mind).

Most of us at some point are probably guilty of saying, even if only to ourselves, the world would just work better if everyone thought like me. In reality we all see the world very differently, and as wonderful as this is it can be problematic. Navigating different perspective and behaviour is the stuff of organisation dynamics. Psychometric instruments such as Insights, DISC and Myers-Briggs are effective at having us recognise and work with diversity across preferences and communication styles. These instruments provide a helpful and useable means of flexing our approach with colleagues for better outcomes. Bioenergetics adds a powerful layer - whereas most personality models deal with how people act, Bioenergetics deals with why they react.

Bioenergetics speaks to five personality patterns that most people already have an intuitive knowledge of at an unconscious level. With a little understanding and practice this “knowing” becomes conscious, leading to insight and empathy for the inner worlds of others, and the behaviours that play out from them. Perhaps even more powerfully it helps leaders make sense of why they take the approach they do (particularly under pressure), and how to better manage any negative impact they may be having on others.

Of course no person can adequately be explained as a colour, type or four-letter acronym and equally you are not your patterns. However, pause and consider what you could do if you had deeper insight to your own behaviour, knowledge for working within the psychological safety of others, and an enhanced capability for interacting more successfully?

As curious as Bioenergetics might sound it is the area of development that leaders I work with consistently say is making the biggest difference to their progress. If you would like to know more about Bioenergetics, and how we might work together please get in touch.


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