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    Nov 16, 2016    |   Aidan Millar

Little Red Riding Hood and her Sensing Blindspot

Did Little Red Riding Hood have an S Preference? Well, not necessarily. But it is true that her demise could have been attributed to an all-too-common Sensing blind spot: a failure to quickly and accurately recognize how facts and present realities connect to a bigger picture – and often, a very meaningful one.

In case you have forgotten some pieces of the story, a big grotesque wolf – with full intentions of devouring Little Red – decides to trick the unwitting youngster by dressing up as her elderly grandmother in an effort to lure her closer for said devouring purposes.

little-red-riding-hood-156953_1280-2The following dialogue takes place:

‘Oh! grandmother,’ Little Red Riding Hood said, ‘what big ears you have!’
‘All the better to hear you with, my child,’ replied the wolf.
‘But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!’ she said.
‘All the better to see you with, my dear.’
‘But, grandmother, what large hands you have!’
‘All the better to hug you with.’
‘Oh! but, grandmother, what a terrible big mouth you have!’
‘All the better to eat you with!’

Then, with one single bound, the wolf jumped out of bed and swallowed up Red Riding Hood.

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking and this may very well be a bit of an exaggerated example. As an S preference myself, I would be hard pressed to confuse a forest-dwelling wild animal with my sweet, 89 year old grandmother regardless of my preferences (I’m sure she’d be relieved to know this). However, let’s take an N approach, and look at the lessons that can be gleaned from Perrault’s classic tale*, using a Type perspective.

As important as realities and facts are, failing to recognize the connection, bigger picture, or the ‘why’ of those facts may be very detrimental to meaningful and effective functioning. Just ask Little Red Riding hood. It can be tempting for S preferences – in our attempts to be accurate and thorough – to get stuck in the weeds, or falling victim to the adage of “not seeing the forest for the trees”. As an S preference – as much as I hate to admit it – I’ve often been accused of not getting to the point or relating my day-to-day activities with a more strategic plan.

To keep yourself from falling “victim” to the same fate, inject some more N and try the following:

Be Selective with the details: facts are important, but they become more meaningful when you can decide which are most important, and which do not contribute as much to the outcome! The scary, much-too-large-for-grandma mouth (and teeth!) may have been Little Red’s first major clue of something amiss, and she may have drawn a quicker conclusions if she had decided to focus on what was most potently dangerous.wolf-47329_1280-2

Start by asking ‘why’: By first attuning to the objective at hand, you will remind yourself to take inventory of the big picture right away. This will help inform which details you will care most about while aligning your fact-based approach with purpose! If Little Red had looked at the wolf from a holistic perspective initially, she may have realized that something – even if she had to investigate further – was just not right. This will be particularly helpful in your communication with N counterparts too – they like to hear the big picture first!

Check back in: As you gather the information through realities and experience, continue to intermittently remind yourself to step back during the process to pull patterns together. Ask yourself what do these things have in common? What may the facts imply? Have I seen this pattern before and where? What have we not done before that may work?

The theory behind the MBTI® Instrument teaches us that we all have strengths as well as ‘big bad wolf’ blind spots that can trip us up (or eat us up!), regardless of our preferences. The first step in overcoming these monsters is to be mindful of some of these areas for development. The second step is to embrace ways to flex our opposite preferences to become more well-rounded and effective – to not only survive, as seen in our story, but to thrive – at home, at work, and in life. Don’t be like Little Red Riding Hood – remember your blind spots!

*Reference: Story of Little Red Riding Hood taken and paraphrased from Charles Perrault’s (1881) original Fairy Tale.