Outcome v. Process-Focused personalities: which are you?

“My wife and her family take absolutely forever to do anything. The other day we were hanging pictures and I swear there were 6 of them standing around, debating the exact arrangement of each item on the wall. As soon as they would settle on something, one would raise an issue and the whole endeavor would start all over again. I practically wanted to scream!” says Darren. He takes a sip of his coffee and chuckles to himself. “She has always been that way, even when I married her 30 years ago.”

“Well, congratulations for not landing yourself on the news! Seems like you are a lot more patient with Karen than you were 6 months ago.” I responded.

He says, “Yeah, I kind of have to be. I decided that despite all her flaws and all my frustrations with her, there’s no other way I would rather be than married to her. Still, I would like to work on not being so impatient with her, maybe you can help me.”

“That, and my amazing coffee, is why you come see me. So your personality is really logical. You like to get things done in an orderly and efficient manner. In fact, I think you tend to measure the success of an event by the goals that were reached in ratio to the time/resources that were spent. Am I right?” I ask.

“As usual you have me pegged.”

“Well, you know how I like to categorize people, and I have been working on a new people category. It has to do with the emphasis with which we approach the things we do.”

It breaks down like this

Outcome-oriented people: highly organized, goal-directed, linear, expedient, they see the value of doing a thing as measured by the outcome that was garnered from it. But as much as they get more done, they tend to be more easily frustrated, can be susceptible to missing out on emotional and experiential side of life because they are too fixated on the end product.

Process-oriented people: More disorganized, spontaneous, they do things mostly for the experience of doing things. They are much more ‘in the moment’ and are able to savor the process as being intrinsically valuable. Process-oriented people are more emotionally nurtured and nurturing, but they can struggle in getting things done on time or at all.

It can be a challenge for highly outcome-oriented people to get along with process-oriented people and vice versa. Outcome oriented people can become frustrated and impatient with process-oriented people. Process-oriented people find outcome-oriented people pushy, un-nurturing, no fun and sometimes judgmental. The trick, if you are clearly one type or the other type, is to remember that there is value to be found in the process of a task as well as the outcome. If you are used to focusing on outcomes, but are inthe company of process-oriented people, remember to slow down, embrace the experience and recognize that there is a significant amount of self and other-nurturing that happens when the value of a moment is embraced. if you are process-oriented dealing with an outcome-oriented person, challenge yourself to be patient with where their value lies, and try not to take their frustration and task-focus personally.

“Darren, you are lucky in that Karen and you form a yin-yang. You balance each other out and that is exactly what makes you work as a couple. Remember not to resent her for being your ‘yin’ because that is exactly what you need her to be.”

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