A Question of Style…
©2005 CareyMumford

Recently, our desk has been crossed by a number of interesting, provocative, unusually significant questions concerning behavior styles. Those questions led to an updated evaluation of what is currently being portrayed publicly about styles, or to be more accurate, how what is being said is morphed into a definition of personality, not style. Any clear presentation of style information is found to be virtually non existent, except for what KeyGolf has published. It is hard to find anyone, even among knowledgeable folks, who knows the difference between style and personality. The residue is a thoroughly gray area of information, that distorts or blurs the image golfers persist in storing in their golf files.

Variations on the theme are rendered from a veritable lineup of popular sources, not to mention those with credentials, who readily present their truncated viewpoints. The “bag” is considerably mixed, since a lot of what comes out has the sound of notions that have not really been thought through. KeyGolf’s “take” has concentrated mainly on the behavior styles in their raw, undisturbed, uncorrupted basic form. The need for illumination, however, is mainly where the basics have been subjected to distortion from any of several sources. We need to add some light to expose at least some of what has been dented, bent, broken or dumped. But, for the present, we will need to omit the cloud created by those whose agenda is sufficiently mixed to simply try to erase any value to behavior style information by inserting rationalizations like "All it does is try to label and pigeon hole people." If you profile people using proper instruments, you will not ever find two exactly alike. There aren't any pigeon holes, except "women" and "men."

Other than that, distortions can be found in exceptions to the basic styles themselves. Others have to do with personality issues pretending to be styles. Yet another concerns the individual defensive overlays humans develop while attempting to retain their integrity in the face of untold numbers of other people and forces demanding that they “do it the way we say,” instead of their own.  If a poll were taken, the confusion from that mixture would come out to be a majority. No wonder so many rely on a skewered perception, dressed in personality or neuroticism, which has been confused with style, and postured as the “right” view. Simply put, mistaken beliefs, arising from a notion that majorities cannot be wrong, present problems that are hard to shake.

To illustrate: When we observe another person, what we see is what they project. What everyone projects from themselves for others to see creates and forms an image - most often one that springs from the person’s intentions rather than the true, native, genetic style.  What others see is typically viewed from the “personality” pigeonhole, not the basic style column. The style is there, but it is almost always screened. So, without well-developed observation skills, what we will see is the other person’s mask. Again, skill is required to look behind any screen to view the style. Going with “face value,” is apt to be misleading.

“How much of a mask does the person/player wear, and what is the source of that mask?” Have you been able to observe the person or player in action, listen to him/her talk, been able to watch an interview session or a one-on-one with a commentator, and/or perhaps observed them in more social roles? With enough opportunity to scan a person’s activity in a variety of different environments and circumstances, and with sufficient knowledge of basic styles, one can apply that cross-section of snap shots to acquire a reasonably accurate picture of the person, even without the benefit of profiling.

In almost all cases, what you see in any casual glimpse is not what you get. It is very rare to find a person, golfers included, who moves or plays exactly like the style he/she owns, unless it is a player who has mastered the automatic process and you know, in fact, that the player is applying it at the time of your observation. It takes educated vision to come even close to a valid determination of style. Personality descriptions are plentiful, but it is not so easy to get through the mask to see the style, unless there has been adequate time and circumstance for observing.

A trap is unwittingly built at the point at which “personality” is judged to be all that is needed for tasks and relationships. After all, that’s the basis on which many people are hired for jobs and many marriages are initially consummated. It is also the benchmark for many golfers and their gurus.

Fortunately, an increasing number of enlightened instructors is emerging. They understand style and the need to help people learn and play in the style that has been owned from birth. That small, but growing, new breed of instructor does not attempt to put a swing or manner of playing onto a player in a way that mismatches a player’s style with the game. Instead they focus on helping players tailor the game to the player’s style.

Other than that group, however, the confusion of “personality” and “style” is continuing to cloud the vital issues. What most will see is one face for work, another for home, yet another for play and whatever number of others may be needed depending on the situation. Beneath that is the constant style. The personality may be varied, but the style remains the same.

 Style has genetic proportions. Personality is learned through that person’s collective experience and whatever needs are perceived to be required for making their way in their singular variety of life circumstances. Personality is for “show,” and style is for “dough,” as the saying goes.

We all face a major perception mystery of multiple proportions, but one worth solving.

Here is yet another dimension. The National Institute of Mental Health says: ”An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.” Put that stat beside the generally accepted observation that about 25% of the population is “normal,” about 25% more is mildly neurotic, another approximate 25% is heavily neurotic, and the last group of 25% is psychotic.  Only the first 25% will stand a chance of being visible under the heading of “normal,” even if they don’t put on a “mask.” Now we have a thickened plot to contend with. There are so many possibilities that one might even ask, “Then how is it even possible to recognize a person’s style?”  That is where the knowledge base and experienced eye and ear come face to face with, and put a stop to, the “by guess and by gosh” method of evaluating.

To make a long story short, even a “sick” Craftsman will not look like a Driver. The same is true for any of the styles. The style will still be visible to the trained eye, no matter what kind of coating is placed over it, but an ability to clearly mark the style will not occur instantly. It requires seeing patterns of behavior and that takes more than one moment of observation in a single setting. A “sick” Driver may try to put an end to your life, but a similarly dysfunctional Craftsman would still try a “diplomatic” path. An ill Persuader would continue to talk, most likely rambling. An Analyzer in similar straits would be more apt to “clam up and move away from others,” or retreat in some other fashion.

The point is crucial for comprehension. A hierarchy informs that comprehension. It starts with the most basic picture available, which began with the four temperaments found originally about 400 BC by Hippocrates and later expanded and enhanced by Dr. Carl G. Jung and William Moulton Marston, followed later by a number of others.

Based on their findings, confirmed by our own research, it is our view that everyone starts out with a genetic makeup of some combination of all four basic sets of traits, one of which will show as the “leader.” Even though there are many with psychological credentials that continue to believe that everything is learned environmentally, the evidence to the contrary is extensive. The proportion of style combinations and their individual arrangement is found to be unique in the same vein as DNA. If style changed with environmental influence, there would be much different evidence with regard to the percentages of styles among any given population. Thus far, the percentages have not changed in the 30 years we have been doing profiles. If environment were the major player, styles would be changing almost daily, and certainly the percentages would not have remained stable. There are other evidences, but suffice it to say that we will continue to insist that style is primary. Personality is secondary and plays no part whatsoever in effective management of one’s golf swing or game management.

We note, however, that environment does impact style; just not in a way that alters the delivery system, or the way in which most tend to believe. So what? And why?

From birth, our basic, given styles are immediately subjected to environmental influences, some good, some bad, and some ugly. That happens without our permission, from day one, leading to all kinds of variations in how any person, even all people, will respond or react to any given situation. In turn, all of that distorts what other see. If that is severe enough it can go well beyond mere appearance and literally bend a person out of shape. Life experience can and does create conditions in which personalities are randomly shaped. Consider that you could face two people of different styles, appearing to have similar personalities, or two people of the same style appearing to be quite different in personality. It is vital to build a base so that one can evaluate what is being observed. The point here is not that style goes away, but that there is more to the accurate perception of style than one might have guessed.

Enter the profiling process. That is why behavior style profiling is so important. So-called “personality profiling,” even if truly trying to measure personality, will distort style information, by watering down and picking up on combinations of style, attitude, values, beliefs, opinions, ideas, notions and even superstitions. That process has been so misappropriated, though unintentionally, that there is at least one fairly prominent profiling method insisting there are eight prime factors you must have if you want to be a “champion.” Upon close observation, those eight factors amount to a couple from each of the four basic styles, which is virtually impossible for anyone to own. Nobody has all four styles of equal size and shape. If you want to be involved in something that literally requires you to operate outside your style, try that one. Unfortunately, that is one more case calling for the person to match self to the game, not the game to be tailored to the player.  It exemplifies all those processes with a marked guarantee to produce stress of wrecking proportions.

Minimizing stress factors in golf is neither complicated nor unreachable. It does, however, need to start with a basic recipe, not with a potpourri that confounds the taste buds. There are too many “cooks” out there with too many variations on the theme. The variations in this case must come from individual players (not instructors or gurus) after they master the mainframe. Then if they want to add a little “garlic,” they will know how, how much and for what purpose. It is time to get horses and carts in the right order. Maybe then, playing ability will begin to match the newest editions of available hardware and shot making combined with a mentality to use it well and wisely.