Lesson 2 – Personality Archetypes – who are you?
In his best selling book Warriors, Settlers & Nomads Terence Watts describes how we each have a dominant personality type evolving from our early ancestors. We can have a mixture of these personalities, but one will be a dominant influence. Understanding how we, and those around us, operate, can be very helpful in resolving issues.
Once upon a time (in fact up to about ten thousand years ago) we were all nomadic, we would wander around the world, following our food as it migrated, but as we evolved a group of people got together and thought it would be a good idea to stay in one place, settle down and form communities. It allowed them to help and look after each others needs, look out for each other, share tasks and have more stability. So that’s what they did and they became what we now call SETTLERS.
Then another group evolved and they looked at the settlers and thought it was a good idea, except they weren’t very well protected against wild animals or other wild tribesmen and they could do with being a bit more structured and organised, so they moved in, offered the settlers their protection in return for being nurtured and looked after and they became the WARRIORS.
The third group of people were the original nomadic tribes; they looked at the Settlers and Warrior and decided they didn’t want to be responsible for looking after other people and they didn’t want to be taking orders, they liked their lifestyle of being on the move, constant change, discovering new exciting things and having adventures not knowing what was around the corner, so they carried on doing that and became the NOMADS.
Settlers – this is YOU.
Settlers are always lovely gentle people, they are our nurturers, they are happiest building a home and family and looking after other people. They are not usually hugely ambitious or career minded and tend to gravitate towards jobs which are about nurturing or caring for others such as nursery school or primary school teachers, care workers, nursing etc, or in an office environment they will tend to be the support, admin, personal assistants. They are very good at anticipating other people needs. They are all about other people and are at their best helping others.
However, the flip side of their coin also is about people and quite often their anxiety comes from worrying about other people and what other people think about them. In a family, it will be the Settler who worries about everyone else’s problems, even if it isn’t anything to do with them – for example, say two siblings have fallen out and their is a third sibling who is a settler, that third sibling will worry constantly about the fall out and just want them to make up. They can be quite sensitive, especially to other people’s comments and words and are easily hurt and will worry what people think about them or what they have said.
Because Settlers are all about other people, they can internalise their own problems and take on board other peoples; they don’t want to worry anyone with their problems, so they just worry inside their own mind instead and this may manifest in physical anxiety related illnesses such as headaches, migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), skin disorders, weight loss or weight gain.
Warriors – The Takers
Warriors are leaders, they are at their best being in charge, making decisions and competing. Unsurprisingly, you find a lot of warriors in the military as they are very good at not only giving orders, but also following orders – if they respect the person giving them the order. Their attention to detail is second to none, they are very tenacious and don’t do anything without careful considerations of the pros and cons. They are extremely organised, strategic and want to get to the top, at all costs. They are quite formal, liking procedures, hierarchy and structure and do things the ‘right’ way because that’s how it should be done. Ultimately they are about control and strive to be in control of themselves, their environment and people around them.
The flip side of their coin is also control – over control. If something is out of control in their life, they try even harder to get it back in control or to take control of something else that they can. They will tend to micro-manage and want everything done their way (because that’s the right way!) and don’t understand that other people think and behave differently. They live in ‘should land’ and will be critical of people who do things differently to them. They are also a little rigid and inflexible, for example, because they are so organised, they will have their whole day or week planned and if someone else changes their plans, it will cause them anxiety or stress (usually in the form of annoyance).
Often a Warrior’s anxiety manifests in inappropriate over control. Typical anxiety disorders of Warriors include OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), anger, being over controlling of partners and other people and can develop eating disorders as children and teenagers. Children aren’t in control of much in their little lives, but they can always control what they put in their mouths and by being over controlling about their eating, they usually end up controlling the adults in their lives or the dinner time ritual. The teenage years are the most stressful and chaotic of our lives and much may seem out of control, but again, control of food is something they can always do. Cleaning OCDs are also very common or being over fussy on how things are done and re-checking locks or that things are switch off multiple times. Rituals and rigid schedules become more rigid and more elaborate with attention to the tiniest detail in Warriors as the anxiety builds.
The need to organise and control will permeate into all areas of their lives and in their interactions with others. Being no nonsense direct people, Warriors have no trouble saying ‘No’ to other people and, remember what I said in Lesson 1, we all expect other people to be like us, so Warriors don’t understand that other people can be anxious about saying no. They are also very disarming because they are very good at manipulating other people, they are strategic, so if they need someone from someone else, they will have often engineered the question in such a way that you find yourself committing to something without realising.
It’s interesting to note however, that because Warriors are ok with saying ‘No’, they are also OK with hearing it as well and will accept a ‘no’ as a matter of fact, they will not take it personally.
Nomads – The Thoughtless People
Nomads are adventurers, they thrive on excitement and new experiences and starting anything new with great enthusiasm and determination. Entrepreneurs, marketing, sales, actors, musicians, artists or anything creative are all highly populated by Nomads. They are inspirational to others and can make the dullest of presentations sound exciting and interesting. They love to be centre of attention and you can often spot a nomad just by looking at them, something will make them stand out in a crowd, brightly coloured hair, unusual or flamboyant clothing, a flash car. They are not afraid of going places not man (or woman) has been before, their mind it quick and agile and are at their best when having to handle multiple situations or tasks, but they get bored very quickly with the mundane and you can forget attention to detail. They are all about the concept, the detail will work itself out later (or someone else will).
So the flip side of their coin is finding it hard to stick at things and they get bored very easily. When the going gets tough, the Nomads get going. They are not very structured and their flexible minds become quite chaotic. The drama queen in the nomad will make a mountain out of a molehill, the problem will be enormous, unsolvable and a complete disaster. Everything will become a problem, their job, relationship, house and they won’t just move house, they will move country.
A Nomad with anxiety will tend to walk away from things rather than seeing it through, they might hand in their notice on the spur of the moment when upset about something, or over-react and finish a relationship prematurely. They will turn their back and go off in search of new excitement. A nomad is quite independent, of the three personality types, the nomad needs other people the least and when anxious, rather than talk about it, they are prone to withdraw or immerse themselves in something where they don’t have to think about it.
The Nomads in your life are the ones that let you down last minute; change plans frequently are always late and cancel arrangements you’ve made. You can spend time doing something with or for a Nomad and then you wont hear from them for months because they’re off doing something else. They will forget your birthday and then turn up expectantly on your doorstep expecting you to drop everything to listen to the latest drama in their life. They can leave you wondering what you’ve done to upset them and why they never call, it’s always you who is expected to keep in contact with them.
Nomads wont give a thought to you cancelling something on them and will readily accept a ‘no’, they wont spend any time brooding on being let down themselves frequently changing plans, going off in all directions and last minute cancellations are their modus operandi, so if you have to say no, that’s Ok because they know where they are and they can get on with organising something else.
If you ask a Nomad to help you out with something, they will be overjoyed at being asked – don’t expect them to commit successfully to helping long term, but they will see the fun and adventure in helping someone move house or paint the kitchen or help out with a social event. They just don’t think to ask or offer in advance, they expect other people to ask them when needed.
Why is this relevant?
You will have noticed, I gave each personality type subtitle names, YOU, The Takers and The Thoughtless People. They are not really takers or thoughtless, but from the personality of a Settler, it can seem that way.
The reason this is relevant is in understanding that not everyone is like you, they come at life from a different angle and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but it is human nature to anticipate that other people think like us.
What might seem to a Settler like a thoughtless or selfish action from a Nomad invariably doesn’t have a selfish motivation behind it, more likely it wouldn’t have occurred to them it was a problem for other people because it wouldn’t be a problem for them if the roles were reversed. A good example of this is changing plans last minute, Nomads frequently do this and to them it isn’t a big deal, they wouldn’t mind at all if you cancelled something last minute, but the Settler will worry they have done something to upset the Nomad and the Warrior will be angry and annoyed that their plans have been changed because they need structure.
A Warrior can come across to a Settler as abrasive, direct and even cruel sometimes. Warriors have a need to win and get their own way and their own agenda in the priority, not because they are selfish, but because they genuinely believe they are advising the best course of action and doing the right thing by everyone else. They don’t think that the other person’s feelings might be hurt, feelings are irrelevant, they have a job to do or a mission to complete.
Being able to see beyond our own perspective and judgement allows us to accept people for who they are and see the good intentions within them rather than thinking they are taking advantage intentionally.
Think about the people close to you in your life and the people you interact mostly with, it may be family, friends and even work colleagues.
Can you identify which personality type they might be?