The Ofman Quadrant Exercise To Use When You Are Triggered
The Ofman Core Quality Quadrant is an amazing exercise that I often do for myself and with clients. It helps realize how one annoying situation or behavior from someone actually holds so much potential for ourselves to grow.
This is a great tool to stop putting the blame on our external circumstances and instead use this annoying moment to learn more about ourselves.
If you are looking for a way to:
Get to know yourself (even) better
Soothe your relationships with others
Take your life and emotions into your own hands
Grow to be the next version of yourself
...then keep reading because this one tool is going to be a great asset for your personal development... It sure was for me!
The Ofman Core Quality Quadrant by Daniel Ofman
Think of someone who annoys you. It can be a specific person (your colleague Diane), or a "type" of person (people who are always late).
You got it? Good.
Now think about yourself.
Do you also typically show that type of behavior?
I would bet that you feel very different from that person or behavior, am I right?
I would bet that you are not the type of person to show these kinds of annoying behaviors.
When we get annoyed by someone's behavior, we automatically think that they are in the wrong. Because we personally wouldn't act the same way. That's normal. Or at least, it's human.
We categorize other people's behaviors as difficult, rude, annoying. We complain about them and cannot imagine why they do this. The only decent solution is for them to change.
Daniel Ofman has something else to say about it.
A "difficult behavior" is actually a quality pushed to the extreme. And it reflects a big deal about ourselves.
Ofman's Quadrant is a tool to help you identify your core quality as well as the challenge you are facing using one situation that triggers you.
The quadrant is made of 4 areas:
The core quality
The pitfall or danger
Let's take an example to illustrate it.
1) The Allergy
Let's say that your colleague Diane is annoyingly negative. Every time something positive happens, she manages to find a negative comment to say about it.
"Oh the weather is beautiful today" > "yes but it will rain later this afternoon"
"We got lucky to find a table at the restaurant" > "It's annoying, it's too loud"
You see what I'm talking about? Maybe you have someone like that in your group of friends, family or acquaintances.
The negative behavior that annoys / frustrates / triggers you is the allergy.
2) The Core Quality
To find the core quality you transform the allergy into the positive opposite of that behavior.
In our example, what will be the positive opposite of being negative? Being positive, having a positive attitude and mindset is going to be the core quality.
And I bet this quality is one of your very own strong points...
So this is already telling you a lot about yourself:
If you hate and if you are triggered when people are being negative, it most likely means that you are a positive person yourself.
3) The Pitfall
Now, let's keep working around the quadrant. To find the pitfall, bring the core quality to the extreme.
Ask yourself what this quality would turn into if there was too much of it and it became negative.
In our example, what would be the result of someone being overly positive?
It could become an inability to accept difficult circumstances or situations and to acknowledge our negative emotions.
If that's your answer, then that would be the pitfall of this quadrant.
4) The Challenge
Now that we have the pitfall, let's find the challenge.
You will find it by asking yourself what the positive opposite of the pitfall is.
Back to our example, the positive opposite of being unable to deal with our negative emotions would likely be as simple as being able to acknowledge difficult situations, accept their negative sides and regulate our difficult emotions about them.
The allergy: negative comments/mindset
The core quality: positive outlook on life
The pitfall: being unable to manage difficult emotions
The challenge : being able to manage difficult emotions
5) Complete the circle
We've got the 4 quadrants of the exercise.
To wrap it up and check that we got it right, we can do one last step :
Take your challenge and bring it to its extreme.
Ask yourself what this challenge would turn into if there was too much of it and it became negative.
You should get back to your allergy.
In our case, the extreme of being able to acknowledge the negative situations of our life and managing our difficult emotions could indeed be a focus on the negative, resulting in constant negative comments and mindset.
It's all rounded off!
So what does this mean?
The purpose of Ofman's quadrant is to realize how the allergies that we have actually say more about us than they say anything about the other person.
The allergy you write is about the other person, but as soon as you leave the allergy, the core quality, the pitfall, and the challenge start talking about you, and not about the other person anymore.
Note that the answers to each step of the quadrant are totally personal and depend on you. Maybe you don't see the extreme of being positive as the difficulty to deal with negative emotions. Maybe for you, the extreme of being optimistic looks more like an unrealistic way of looking at situations. That can cause a lot of problems too. Closing eyes on hard situations and not being able to deal with them and find solutions for example.
That's the beauty of this exercise: different people can have the same allergy yet get different results. The same allergy becomes a different mirror for different people.
So, following our example, if you are being triggered by negative people, you see that one of your own qualities is that you are yourself a positive person with a "good vibe only" kind of personality. That's great.
But taken to the extreme, this quality could also become negative. If being positive is a great core quality, not allowing negative emotions to come in and not opening your eyes to reality can be dangerous.
Your own challenge would then be to learn to deal with those difficult emotions that come up with negative situations.
By highlighting our own qualities and challenges, the quadrant shows us a direction in which we can grow and evolve.
What's behind our challenges?
If you want to go further, it's interesting to dig deeper into our challenges and what they mean to us.
The thing with our challenges is that they are linked to our own perception of life, and our beliefs about ourselves, others and life itself.
So that's one good question to ask ourselves:
What beliefs and fears are tied to me having difficulties with this challenge?
In our example, what beliefs and fears could be hidden behind the difficulty to acknowledge the negative parts of my life and to live those difficult emotions?
It could be for instance the belief that we have to be polite and well-educated and that showing anger, frustration or disappointment is not respectable for a lady.
We could be afraid that if we're not always positive, people won't like to spend time with us anymore.
These kind of beliefs are often hidden and subconscious, but they are extremely precious because they dictate our everyday behaviors without us even noticing.
Once you put your finger on these beliefs and fears, it's time to create new ones that will empower you to take on your challenge.
A flaw is a quality pushed to the extreme
When we start looking at flaws as qualities pushed to the extreme we also get a better understanding and respect for people triggering us. It helps soothe our relationships with others too and let go of that frustration.
This exercise shows us how a trigger is actually the result of a repressed behavior that we somehow don't allow ourselves to have. Watching another person embody our own challenge to the extreme is an annoying mirror.
Want another example? I've shared a video with you on Instagram about what happened when I got triggered by both my sister and a coach being in Mexico while I was stuck in Belgium. I've used the Ofman Quadrant to help me understand what it meant. And the results were impressive. It helped me understand an unconscious belief and behavior I've had for years. Click here to check it out.
Now, your turn!
Try it right now for fun, so you better understand it and that way, once you will be faced with someone triggering you you will know how to react.
For now, pick a general behavior that annoys you (it can be something generic or a situation that happened to you lately). Then find the positive opposite of that behavior. Now that you have the core quality push that quality to its extreme in a negative way. Then transform the pitfall into its positive opposite.
There you go! You've got your challenge!
So what is that you could work on right now? Let me know! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a DM on Instagram to share your results or to share your "allergy" so I can help you do the Ofman Quadrant!
I'm only one message away!
And remember... Luck is an attitude!
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