A born navel gazer, I love assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs on personality type, that give me more insight into myself and others. Several years ago I took another questionnaire, on learning styles, that produced one of those aha! moments. My highest score was in interpersonal learning, which may explain why I can sit in a classroom or workshop and actually enjoy a lecture — though only if I get to ask questions. Even though I’m an introvert and sometimes struggle with approaching people, I often need to talk to people to understand what I’m learning.
My husband, on the other hand, is mostly an intrapersonal learner. He will go to great lengths to read up on what he wants to learn and figure it out himself. He struggles to endure a lecture. He falls asleep at plays and some movies. And, like the old trope about the difference between men and women, he would rather die than ask directions. I would rather ask directions than take a minute to look it up.
This is relevant to our new adventure in Mexico for obvious reasons.
I’d like to say that our complementary styles work beautifully — he goes to the web or the manual or the map while I ask a lot of questions. Somehow we come up with just the right answers!!
In truth, he’s the one who spends all day at the consulate, where he could ask lots and lots of questions of other people but generally is not comfortable doing so. I’m at home, DYING to ask questions, but with no one to talk to, since I haven’t even figured out how to use our local phones.
The obvious answer is for both of us to get out of our comfort zones. I mean, it would be easy enough for me to fiddle around with the cell phone and landline and try to make the various applications work, even look them up online. And Mark could ask some questions around the office.
But we each tend to default toward our preferred style, given that we’re still in major adjustment mode with limited emotional energy. That’s why I sent a looooooong email today to a couple of folks at the consulate with a lot of questions about the ins and outs of managing various bills, car and household concerns. Maybe I could just come into the office to talk it through, I suggested?!
Mark, on the other hand, still tries to figure things out without bothering anyone else — and he doesn’t have much time to ask around the office because of learning his new job and trying to meet expectations.
I suppose eventually we’ll each stretch ourselves a little more — and Mark, I’ll admit, is stretching more than I am these days. Recently I tried to find the manual of our unfamiliar oven online. I couldn’t track it down on the company website so emailed customer service and a real person emailed me back with the manual in Spanish. I then requested it in English and immediately received it. Ta da, success through interaction with a real person! No, wait … I now need to read the darned thing.
For his part, Mark has agreed to ask a real person at the office a question about the confusing utility bill we received, maybe even today. It’s possible he’ll just read it himself over lunch and figure it out. And if he does, that’s fine. Maybe our styles really are meshing effectively, as long as one of us gets an answer, right?
In the meantime, maybe I can interest you in exploring your learning style? And telling me about it? That would give me another chance to interact and put off reading the oven manual!
And learning really is so important — in The Once and Future King, I sometimes tell my clients, Merlin advises a young Arthur, “The best cure for depression is to learn something.”
Here’s a link: