PSIU is a useful tool for understanding yourself and your colleagues. But honestly, the best way to apply it is with your spouse or primary love relationship. I’m not saying you should send them an assessment. You certainly can, but you already know their style. Instead, I’m suggesting you use PSIU as a tool for understanding and resolving the conflicts that every relationship runs into.
Just having a common language can be helpful in any relationship.
You can start out simple. For instance, if my wife Linda asks me to do something at an inopportune time, I just need to reply, “Sorry honey, I’m in the middle of Stabilizing but I can listen later.” When I say it like that, she gets it. She knows that I love her and care about her—I just need to execute on a detail-oriented task that I probably would rather not be doing. She gets that it’s not personal and that when I’m done, I’ll be much more capable of giving her my full attention.
Or, if she’s feeling upset about something she read online and comes to me to vent, it helps me to remember that I don’t need to Produce on a problem to solve (my default response). She’s not asking me to fix the world’s problems! She’s just looking to clear out her head and Unify with a buddy. I don’t have to do anything but listen. Understanding PSIU helps me remember that.
Those are some simple examples but it can also get profound. Let me give you an example from my first serious relationship in my 20s. At that stage in life, I was showing up as a high Producer-Innovator style—impatient, driven, determined, me-oriented, and with my mind was running all over the place generating new ideas for my growing business.
At the time, I was also attracted to women who were like me. Meaning, I was seeking qualities in others that I wanted to express more in myself, so I landed myself in a relationship with a woman who was also a Producer-Innovator. In a picture, we were both on the far right side of the PSIU matrix:
If the universe abhors a vacuum, what do you think was missing from our relationship? What did we tend to fight about? We fought about the missing Stabilizing and Unifying forces in our relationship!
Yep, we fought about who should be doing household chores, cooking meals, paying bills, taking care of the pets and so much more (Stabilizing) and neither one of us felt truly loved and supported by the other (Unifying). In short, we had two big gaps in our union and neither one of us really wanted to shift to fill those gaps. Could we have shifted? Maybe. But neither one of us wanted to. That’s key.
Now take a look at the same PSIU matrix but mapped to my current relationship with my amazing wife Linda:
What does this picture tell you? First, I’ll say that as I’ve matured and developed, I’m not such a pain in the ass to live with. Second, can you see that Linda and I are more complementary than competitive? In addition, because I’m getting my needs met on the left side by her Stabilizing and Unifying, I’m way more willing and capable to shift styles and help her to Produce and Innovate in her career. There’s a much better flow and give-and-take than in my previous relationships.
Now, do Linda and I have disagreements? We do! And especially in stressful circumstances. Under stress, I’ll default to my old right side (Produce or Innovate my way out) and she’ll shift to the extreme left side (Stabilize or Unify her way out).
As we polarize in these opposite directions, my pace picks up, hers slows down. I want to fight hard to make the problem go away fast. She gets analytical to think through every aspect of the problem. We stop seeing the other’s perspective. I view her as an obstacle. She thinks I’m being obstinate.
What I need to remember is—just because she’s taking a different approach does not make her wrong. In fact, she’s usually right and I’m wrong because I’m moving so fast that I don’t see the bigger picture. The sooner we both recognize the forces at play, the faster we can get back to being a team. We even have a saying now: “Ah-ha, this is a style conflict. How can we shift it?” and it helps to prevent recurring arguments.
How about you? What’s your partner’s style? Does it complement your own or compete with your own? How can you use these insights for a better and more harmonious love affair in your life?
To your success,