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Modelling a first-person description
Parts:
A: The content to be modelled
B: How we modelled 'The shy person'
C: A model for modelling first-person descriptions

Part A: "What I'm really thinking: The shy person"

    I'm usually thinking, "Say something – before it's too late!" And then another moment passes and I hate myself a little bit more. I used to think being shy was something I'd grow out of, but it seems that isn't true. I've realised over the years that shy people are perceived as, variously, up themselves, snooty, standoffish, antisocial and weird. You'd think that would be all the motivation I would need to change, but it doesn't appear to work that way.

    It seems strange to me that people don't naturally assume that a quiet person is shy or unconfident, rather than arrogant. Strangely, if someone's even more shy than me, I can talk to them. I find shyness easy to identify in other people, and I will deliberately make an effort with them. It takes one to know one, I suppose.

    Even the few people who are my friends say that I was difficult to get to know. Thank goodness they persevered with me. The fear of talking to people is literally paralysing. I hate having more than one pair of eyes on me. My wedding day was traumatic – of course I was happy, but there were just too many people there. I guess I'm destined to stay on the periphery of life.

    It's not a bad place to be, but to be happy there you have to let go of other people's perceptions of you. For me, that means accepting that there are plenty of people who think I'm stuck up. I'm not. I'd love to talk to you, but you'll never know that.

The Guardian, Saturday 19 June 2010
www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jun/19/what-really-thinking-shy-person
 

Part B: How we modelled 'The shy person'

STAGE 1: PREPARATION

Our desired outcome: To create a model of the internal process of a shy person from their written first-person account:

STAGE 2: INFORMATION GATHERING

2.1 Highlight the metaphors

Below we’ve laid out the text sentence by sentence. Even something as simple as this gives a different perspective and begins to break the tyranny of the narrative. It helps us to look at the text more through process than content eyes.

We went through the text highlighting both the implicit metaphors and the more obvious ones spotted on the first pass. This required us to put on our filtering-for-metaphors hat and ignore everything else:

    I'm usually thinking, "Say something – before it's too late!" And then another moment passes and I hate myself a little bit more. I used to think being shy was something I'd grow out of, but it seems that isn't true. I've realised over the years that shy people are perceived as, variously, up themselves, snooty, standoffish, antisocial and weird. You'd think that would be all the motivation I would need to change, but it doesn't appear to work that way.

    It seems strange to me that people don't naturally assume that a quiet person is shy or unconfident, rather than arrogant. Strangely, if someone's even more shy than me, I can talk to them. I find shyness easy to identify in other people, and I will deliberately make an effort with them. It takes one to know one, I suppose.

    Even the few people who are my friends say that I was difficult to get to know. Thank goodness they persevered with me. The fear of talking to people is literally paralysing. I hate having more than one pair of eyes on me. My wedding day was traumatic – of course I was happy, but there were just too many people there. I guess I'm destined to stay on the periphery of life.

    It's not a bad place to be, but to be happy there you have to let go of other people's perceptions of you. For me, that means accepting that there are plenty of people who think I'm stuck up. I'm not. I'd love to talk to you, but you'll never know that.

Just considering the metaphor begins to give us a sense of the key relationships involved in this person’s constructs.

2.2 Selecting suitable content

Below we have laid out the text sentence by sentence. Even something as simple as this gives a different perspective and begins to break the tyranny of the narrative. It helps us to look at the text through more through process than content eyes.

Next we highlighted text that we considered salient to our desired outcome. Given that we were modelling a mind-body state of ‘shyness’, at this stage we concentrated on identifying internal process. In the table below we comment line-by-line on our selection of what we considered salient or not:

   TRANSCRIPT IN?  REASONING
 1.
I'm usually thinking, "Say something – before it's too late!"

Internal dialogue.
 2. And then another moment passes and I hate myself a little bit more.
More internal process and sequence.
 3. I used to think being shy was something I'd grow out of, but it seems that isn't true.
X
Historical and something that didn’t happen. 
 4. I've realised over the years that shy people are perceived as, variously, up themselves, snooty, standoffish, antisocial and weird. Perception of what others think.
 5. You'd think that would be all the motivation I would need to change, but it doesn't appear to work that way.
X Something that’s doesn’t have an influence.
 6. It seems strange to me that people don't naturally assume that a quiet person is shy or unconfident, rather than arrogant. X Perception of what others don’t think, and repetition of #4. 
 7. Strangely, if someone's even more shy than me, I can talk to them.
Context where can talk.
 8. I find shyness easy to identify in other people, and I will deliberately make an effort with them.
 Skill/Resource
 9. It takes one to know one, I suppose. 
X Presupposed by #8, no new info.
 10. Even the few people who are my friends say that I was difficult to get to know.
X  Presupposed by #4, and about others.
 11. Thank goodness they persevered with me.
X  No new info.
 12. The fear of talking to people is literally paralysing.
 Internal process and embodied metaphor.
 13. I hate having more than one pair of eyes on me. Internal process and embodied metaphor.
 14. My wedding day was traumatic – of course I was happy, but there were just too many people there.
X Presupposed by #13, no new info.
 15.  I guess I'm destined to stay on the periphery of life.

Life belief and embodied metaphor.
 16. It's not a bad place to be, but to be happy there you have to let go of other people's perceptions of you.
 More about #15 and an implied Remedy.
 17. For me, that means accepting that there are plenty of people who think I'm stuck up. I'm not.

More about the implied Remedy.
 18. I'd love to talk to you, but you'll never know that. Desired outcome.

Interestingly a third of the sentences relate to other people’s thoughts. This indicates how much a part ‘mind-reading’ plays in this person’s way of doing shyness.

2.3 Removing unsuitable content

When we removed the content which did not help us construct a model we were left with about 50% of the words (137 out of 264).

 1.
I'm usually thinking, "Say something – before it's too late!"
 2. And then another moment passes and I hate myself a little bit more.
 4. shy people are perceived as, variously, up themselves, snooty, standoffish, antisocial and weird.
 7. if someone's even more shy than me, I can talk to them.
 8. I find shyness easy to identify in other people, and I will deliberately make an effort with them.
 12. The fear of talking to people is literally paralysing.
 13. I hate having more than one pair of eyes on me.
 15. I'm destined to stay on the periphery of life.
 16a. It's not a bad place to be, 
 16b.  but to be happy there you have to let go of other people's perceptions of you.
 17. that means accepting that there are plenty of people who think I'm stuck up.
 18. I'd love to talk to you


STAGE 3: MODEL CONSTRUCTION

3.1 Organise the information

Next we grouped the text by kind of information. We used a number of fundamental and inter-related distinctions. Whether something:
  • has happened in the past; is still current; or could happen in the future
  • happens externally and could be seen, heard or felt by others; or internally and is private
  • is considered a Problem; a proposed Remedy; or a desired Outcome (see our PRO model).
Note: these distinctions are from the exemplar’s perspective. For example, if the text indicates that the exemplar considers something is problematic, it’s a problem, whether or not we consider it a problem. It is irrelevant whether people actually consider shy people to be “up themselves, snooty, standoffish, antisocial, weird, arrogant”. The exemplar thinks it, and that will influence how they feel and behave.

Current Reality: Problem (in the moment)
1.   I'm usually thinking, "Say something – before it's too late!"
2.   And then another moment passes and I hate myself a little bit more.
12. The fear of talking to people is literally paralysing.
13. I hate having more than one pair of eyes on me.

Current Reality: Problem (over time)
15.   I'm destined to stay on the periphery of life.
16a. It’s not a bad place to be,

Implied Remedy (and conditions necessary for change)
16b. but to be happy there you have to let go of other people's perceptions of you,
4.   shy people are perceived as, variously, up themselves, snooty, standoffish, antisocial and weird.
17.   For me, that means accepting that there are plenty of people who think I'm stuck up.

Current Reality: Resource
7. if someone's even more shy than me, I can talk to them.
8. I find shyness easy to identify in other people, and I will deliberately make an effort with them.

Desired Outcome
18.  I'd love to talk to you

We designated “destined to stay on the periphery of life” as a ‘problem’ even though the person regards it as “not a bad place to be”. This is because the value in them staying on the periphery will likely:

(i)  contribute to the continuation of their shyness
and
(ii) make it difficult for them to achieve their desired outcome, “love to talk”.

As an aside: from a therapeutic point of view this is important since the person will likely consider that not staying on the periphery (and doing the behaviour of not-shy) to be a worse place, and a disincentive to change. Chances are they will need to find a way of keeping whatever the periphery gives them even when they are somewhere else.

3.2 A diagrammatic model of the internal process of ‘The Shy Person’








Part C: A model of how to model the written word

1. PREPARATION

1.1     Read whole thing through.

1.2    Identify desired outcome for modelling and fix in mind.


2. INFORMATION GATHERING

2.1     Highlight metaphors

Since they tell you what it is like on the inside for the person – take their metaphors as a literal description.

2.2     Identify suitable content — that which indicates process information   

i.e. What they do externally and internally to enact the skill.
(Note: because a person uses a metaphor does not mean it is necessarily relevant to your outcome for modelling.)

2.3    Set aside unsuitable content
e.g.
Explanations
What they don’t do / what isn’t true / what doesn’t work
Examples / stories (unless they give new process information)


3. MODEL CONSTRUCTION

3.1    Group together similar kinds of information

Use as fundamental distinctions as possible. (It is like spreading out all the pieces of a jigsaw before putting similar pieces together.)

3.2    Look for a pattern within each group and identify suitable names for them.

3.3    Diagram out each group using only the exemplar’s words   

Use exemplar’s logic to identify Sequential, Causal, Contingent relationships within each group. (These are unlikely to be the same as the order in which the information was presented.)

Allow the structures of your model to emerge from the metaphors, presupposition in language and inherent logic.

Don’t spend too long on any one group, keep iterating around the groups, i.e. keep moving on and coming back to anything that doesn’t make sense or fit together.

3.4     Fit the chunks together

Hold off from combining the groups until you get a sense of the organisation of the background — the nature of the way the person does it. (It is like getting a sense of the picture of the jigsaw when you do not have the lid of the box.)

Use exemplar’s logic to identify Sequential, Causal and Contingent relationships between groups.

Again, keep visiting the various features of the model rather spending too long attempting to figure out one section.

Remove redundant bits.

Continue until it all fits together. (Or you identify ‘outliers’ that don’t seem to fit – they indicate more modelling might be required.)

4. MODEL TESTING

Run the model through your own (and someone else’s) system a few times checking for the four E’s and the three C’s:

Effectiveness    
- It is likely to get the required results.

Efficiency
- It requires the least number of steps/components (use Occam's Razor to make it as simple as possible, but no simpler).

Elegance
- It is code congruent (the content of the model and the manner in which it is presented/coded are congruent) and esthetically pleasing.

Ethics
- Are the results aligned with the your values and the values of others involved.

Completeness
- It has the necessary distinctions/components
- It is 'full'
- It answers 'what else?' questions with ... "nothing ".

Coherency
- The relationships between components adhere to an internal logic
- It 'holds together'.
- It answers 'why?' questions from within its own logic.

Consistency
- It still gets the results even when circumstances change
- It is robust, it 'stands firm' against challenges
- It can answer 'what if?' questions.

Consider how other models might support, enhance or contradict your model.


5. ACQUISITION

Simplify and adjust the model to be congruent with the purpose to which it is going to be applied.

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