I know this is an old thread, but I’ve been working to understand the concept of Holistic Problem Solving since it was posted. I finally feel like I’m starting to get it, if only a little bit and only in a theoretical sense, and wanted to see what all you Holistic Problem Solvers thought. I wrote something at one point to help me work through it and was delighted when I found the article “How NOT to Apologize to a Woman” and found similar ideas in the article to what I had written. So I’ve based the below scenario on some of that. The first part deals with a Linear problem solver and how he sees things as spatial and the second deals with a Holistic problem solver and how she sees things as temporal. It’s a little long, and I apologize, but thoughts on how I am doing? Thanks
John and Marsha are sitting on the couch when something happens that leads to an argument. Neither of them want to be in an argument. John, who primarily has a Linear Problem Solving Style, approaches the argument with a spatial bias. This means that he sees the argument as being the state of things. There is an argument and he is a part of it, or he is within the space of an argument.
John announces, “I’ve had enough. I’m not talking about this anymore.” Consciously, John is telling Marsha that he’s done with the argument, but subconsciously is announcing that he is going to change the state of things—specifically, the state of there being an argument. Here, he storms out of the room. Maybe he goes to the backyard to shoot some hoops, or to the garage to mess with his tools, or to the bedroom to read a book or watch a movie. Because there is both a space and time element involved, John will still be upset for a few minutes. But once he’s had time to move out of the space of the argument and has fully moved into the space of shooting hoops or messing with his tools or watching a movie, the argument, for him, is over. When Marsha comes around, he can speak to her and act like everything is fine because, for him, it is. When she is surprised that he’s being so nice now, he simply remarks that he is fine, a subconscious statement that the state of things is acceptable.
Suppose now that Marsha either a. followed John out of the room when he had first left, or b. hears John say he is fine and then says “let’s talk about it”. In scenario a, Marsha follows John as he storms out of the room. This makes John even more upset than he already was because he was trying to change the state of things and sees Marsha’s following him as an attempt to maintain the state of things. She is keeping him within the state of an argument, a state that he’d already announced he wanted out of. He sees that she seems surprised that he is even more angry now than before and it doesn’t make sense to him that she’s surprised. He’s made it all very clear. Scenario b. would play out similarly. He would see her request to talk as an attempt to bring back the state of the argument.
Now from Marsha’s point of view. Marsha primarily uses a Holistic Problem Solving Style and approaches the argument from a temporal bias. This means that she sees the argument as a process that, once begun, needs to play out.
When John says he’s not talking about it anymore and leaves the room, Marsha sees this as an attempt to avoid bringing the process to a close, or as an attempt to prolong the process of arguing by refusing to stay in the room and allow the process to wind down. She can a. follow John out of the room and continue to work through the process, or b. let John leave and work through the process on her own.
In scenario a. she follows John to another room and is probably hurt to see that her attempts to work through the process have made him more upset. But they keep the process going until it has wound down. Maybe she works through the process while he mentally sees the state of things as having changed (either he sees that he was wrong or sees that she sees that she was wrong), but probably some combination of both time and space is involved for both.
In scenario b. Marsha doesn’t follow John into another room and is left more upset than she was because he has refused to engage in the process of working through things. When John comes back in twenty minutes later smiling and happy, she is maybe confused or, more likely, annoyed by this. She has been trying to calm herself down and, since there’s an inequity in the relationship, it would be a lot easier if John were there working through it with her. Instead, he went away and calmed himself down without her, outside of the relationship, neverminding that she was still upset. Is she not important to him? Is the relationship not important? Even if she is calm there needs to be some sort of closure to actually end the process of the argument, something to assure her that things are going to be okay moving forward. So when John comes back into the room and seems calm, she says “don’t you want to talk about it?” and doesn’t get why he seems to be annoyed by this. “Didn’t we already talk about it?” he asks. “Why do we need to bring this back up?” But Marsha insists they need to talk about their feelings because, again, she needs to know things are okay moving forward and assumes he knows this. She doesn’t get his reaction and takes it as a sign that things are not okay and doesn’t realize that talking through it is akin to pulling him back into that undesirable space. He doesn’t realize that staying out of that space is forcing the undesirable process to continue for her. Even if she calms down and they seem to be okay for now, that process is still moving forward for her, so she might bring it up again a day from now, or a week, or a month. Long after John has completely forgotten about it, in an attempt to close off that process.