How Filters Challenge Team Effectiveness

How Filters Challenge Team Effectiveness

We all have filters through which we see the world.  They influence how we listen, the way we view other people, and our decisions.  The reason we often struggle to work in unity is that our filters are in place, and we are not aware of how they influence us.

Filters are colored lens that taint the real picture.  Using the analogy of filters on a camera, we can use different filters to enhance contrast, remove haze, screen out ultra-violet frequencies, or produce a soft picture image.  All of these filters change how an image is seen by the viewer.  In the same way, each of us have filters that color our world.  That is why we see the world differently from our teammate or partner.

We are born with filters and we develop filters throughout life.  The filters we are born with relate to our personality.  Psychologists teach us that personality is set by the age of seven, but we can notice differences in personality even before that.  The data seems to indicate that we are hard wired to have filters that stay with us for a lifetime and begin extremely early in life – perhaps from birth.  TotalSDI labels these filters Blue, Red, Green, HUB, etc.  But there are other filters that we develop in life that impact how we see reality.

If I experience trauma in life, I become more sensitive around situations that are similar.  If I have had an abusive father, I may interpret certain behaviors of another person as abusive if I make a connection in my mind or emotions.  PTSD is an example of connecting something happening today to something in the past and experiencing an emotional response to it.  I may hear a loud noise and it may trigger an emotion connected to a war time event, even if I am perfectly safe.  Filters impact how we experience the world.

Relationally, filters can challenge our ability to work together in harmony.  People can look at an identical situation and have drastically different view points on what is “really” happening.  Filters are the reason behind many disagreements.  If we don’t recognize what is happening, we can easily begin to judge each other in terms of people’s motives, honesty, and integrity.  If we don’t identity and recognize what filters are in place, we will struggle to work together and believe the best of one another.

TotalSDI identifies filters related to our Motivational Value System (MVS).  Red MVS filters out things unrelated to movement and getting things done – performance.  What is most important is accomplishment of the task.  Blue MVS filters out things unrelated to people.  What is most important to Blue MVS is how things impact people, so that is the filter that is employed.  Green MVS filters out emotion because it clouds facts.  Green MVS looks for facts and validity.  They weed out that which is illogical or unproven and seek to employ a process that right.  The other MVS’s are a mixture of these lens, but they too have filters which color our world.  It is a wonder that we get along at all!

In order to work together as a high functioning team, have a healthy family life, or love each other in the church, we must learn to address the reality of filters and how they impact how we relate to one another.  Here are some steps that can help us in this journey:

  1. Identity the filters you see the world through.  We all have filters.  By identifying our own filters, we will become more aware of how they impact our viewpoint and decisions.  Reviewing your MVS and the filters you have will help you to see the “tint” of your perspective.
  2. Identify the filters of others around you before engaging with them. If they have access to taking an SDI assessment, that is wonderful.  You can discuss how both your filters impact the behaviors and decisions you make.  If they don’t have SDI knowledge, you can still identify MVS in the other person by observing their language, what is important to them, their body language, etc.  By doing this, you will better understand how to relate to them and adjust your own lenses.  You will know how to discuss the situation from how they view the world.
  3. Appreciate the perspective of others by putting on different filters. It is not enough to know your own filters and the filters of others, but you must also be able to empathize with how other people see the world.  You may have missed some important information that will help you make better decisions and work together in great unity.  Removing your own filters is a crucial step in empathy.

As a Red MVS, I can easily judge other people for being lazy, unproductive, blockers of progress, unable to make hard decisions, and wishy-washy.  All of these judgements come from my Red lens of what is most important to me.  When we value one thing over and above something else, we may very well be depreciating the values of someone else.  Loving one another requires us to consider other people and what is important to them.  I will become a more effective leader, a better mother or father, a more productive team member, if I am able to adjust my filters.

What filters do you have and how do they impact the people around you?  Do you have any helpful tips on how you have learned to adjust your own filters for greater effectiveness?  If so, would you add to this blog in the way of comments so everyone can benefit?

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.