The Handwritten Note:
When A Loved One Has a Different BrainStyleTM
Sometimes talking to a family member or loved one may be challenging. Different communication styles, different ways of solving problems, and different ways of processing information may make it difficult to build a relationship. However, by understanding different brainstyles, we may better understand our loved ones. Our relationships with them will grow closer.
My father and I had very different ways of communicating. Most of the time I thought he just didn't understand me, or would just order me to do things. The summer before I started college I was dating an older guy. Early in the summer I’d had interviews but had not been hired. Dad made it clear that he wasn't pleased. But I wasn’t in a particular hurry to get a job because, well, my boyfriend made a lot of money which paid for his college expenses and our dates. A typical day was: BF picks me up to go out to lunch at a nice restaurant, then to the beach or a movie or the mall, then brings me home to get ready to go out for the evening, then home by midnight, my curfew. I was comfortable being taken care of.
One morning at my place at the breakfast table, Dad had left me a handwritten note. This was no ordinary note like “I’ll be home for dinner by 6pm” or “Have a great day, Sweetheart!” This note piqued my curiosity with its fan-folded lined notebook paper. As I dove into my Cheerios, I carefully unfolded and read each fold’s message. It went something like this:
- Weed the flower beds. (open to next fold)
- Get a Job. (open to next fold.)
- Wash Mom’s car. (open to next fold)
- Get a Job. (open to next fold)
- Sweep the garage. (open to next fold)
- Get a Job.
You get the picture. I recall there were 10 lines, but one clear message. He chose a way to remind me that was kind and personal, respecting my more right-brained, personal style. Dad was reminding me that I was goal-oriented and accomplishment-driven. A recent high school Honors Queen, athlete, and Thespian, I’d graduated in the top 5% of my class. I would start college in September majoring in International Studies with big plans to work at the United Nations. I’d always worked summers and holiday breaks to save up for college expenses and a trip to Europe. But this particular summer I wasn’t pursuing a job and was just having fun.
I had a job by the following Monday.
After learning about BrainStyles®, I realized that Dad showed his love most often by guiding, setting standards, lining out the tasks, re-directing, and leading our family on adventures. He didn't love me the way I would have wanted, with a hug and a smile. His integrity and clarity were hallmarks of his legacy of leadership in the family, and I’ve heard stories about how he kept standards high at his office, his golf tournaments, his community involvement, and at the marina. His brainstyle strengths are those of the left-brain’s logic and analysis. It shows up in aptitudes for prioritizing, sequencing, keeping standards, closing gaps, solving problems, and securing resources. I learned from him. I also found my own, different but natural, strengths.
Thank you, Dad. Miss you, Dad!