Make it up as you go....oops

Make it up as you go...oops

Picture of Ricardo Vega Certified Perceptual Style Guide at Your Talent Advantage

While translating our old blogs for the upcoming Spanish version of our website, I came across a couple where Lynda-Ross and I talk about our use of Perceptual Styles in our personal life: If you are Activity, who is your best match, and The most important thing your dictionary doesn’t tell you.

The walk down memory lane reminded me of a situation that I want to share.

Lynda-Ross and I had spent the better part of the day meeting with a couple of senior managers who kept coming up with one excuse after another for the reasons why they did not have time to meet the deadlines that they previously had signed up for. I watched with amazement as Lynda-Ross parried every excuse and turned every new problem into an opportunity. They never had a chance, and by late in the afternoon, all questions/excuses had been addressed, and the project was moving forward again.

On the way home, I proudly blurted out, “I am so proud of you. You were great. Amazing how you just make it up as you go!” Suddenly, the temperature inside the car felt 20 degrees colder, and if I hadn’t been keeping my eyes and ears on the road, I think I would have seen thunder and lightning……. inside the car!

When we finally arrived home, Lynda-Ross poured us a drink and proceeded to explain to me that my choice of words had hurt her feelings and that while she knew that was not my intention, I had done a very good job of it.

This occurred over 30 years ago when the internet was in its infancy, and there was no way to prove that my choice of words was actually a compliment (it sounded like that in my head anyway). To Lynda-Ross, the phrase “make it up as you go” implied she wasn’t prepared and just lucked into getting something done – definitely not a compliment.

We do believe in “living the theory,” and the key component of Perceptual Style Theory is believing that other humans we interact with are not necessarily mean, dumb, stupid, or wanting to hurt us; they just see, hear, and feel the world differently from us.

We all want to be understood. So, we search for the right words and the right tone to convey our message. What we often fail to recognize is that each one of us has a built-in communication filter and because of that filter, what we mean isn’t always what others hear and vice versa. Let’s take a quick look at the way the different Perceptual Styles communicate:

  • ACTIVITY - these folks are engaging communicators. They communicate with stories to build a sense of shared experience and understanding. They use anecdotes and a personal touch that draws others in. Their writing, just like their speech, is impressionistic, personal, and persuasive.

  • ADJUSTMENTS - these people are careful and competent communicators who effectively use nuance, refinement, and precision in language. They speak deliberately with consideration and communicate a richly textured appreciation of their subject matter. Their writing is content-rich, complex, and lengthy. 

  • FLOW - these folks are careful communicators. They are thoughtful and think about what they want to say before saying it. They often use metaphors and symbolic language to convey relationally complex and challenging subjects. Their writing is contextual, personal, and detailed.

  • GOALS - these people are strong and confident communicators. They speak with clarity and strength of opinion. They frequently interrupt another speaker to ask for clarification and facts. Their writing style is brief and to the point, and they capture no more information than is necessary to provide the essentials.

  • METHODS - these folks are matter-of-fact communicators. They use clear, factual language to present the realities of a situation. They say what they mean and mean what they say. Their writing is well-organized, factual, and clear, presented in a logical and structured manner that’s easy to read and easy to follow

  • VISION - these people are impactful and persuasive communicators. They are excellent extemporaneous speakers who will speak on any subject and enjoy any opportunity to express their ideas. Their writing is focused on the bottom line and uses descriptive language and bullet points to emphasize their message.

Lynda-Ross (Vision) and I (Activity) quickly patched up our differences by sharing our different perspectives about intent and meaning. “Make it up as you go!” became an inside joke and presentation meme.

Until now…thanks to AI. This morning, I submitted the following query to Chat GPT “Please provide 10 meanings of the following phrase "Make it up as you go"” and here’s the answer:

“Certainly! Here are 10 interpretations of the phrase "Make it up as you go":

  1. Improvisation: Respond to a situation by spontaneously creating a solution without prior planning.

  2. Adaptation: Adjust to changing circumstances by devising strategies on the fly.

  3. Innovation: Generate new ideas or methods in real time rather than relying on existing ones.

  4. Flexibility: Demonstrate the ability to change course or direction as needed without hesitation.

  5. Experimentation: Explore different approaches or options without a fixed plan to see what works best.

  6. Resourcefulness: Make use of available resources creatively to tackle challenges.

  7. Instinct: Trust your intuition to guide your actions without overthinking..

  8. Spontaneity: Act in the moment without being confined by predetermined expectations.

  9. Risk-taking: Embrace uncertainty and take bold actions without guaranteed outcomes.

  10. Dynamic Thinking: Engage in fluid, adaptive thought processes to navigate complex situations.

Seems that AI is in complete agreement with my admiration of Lynda-Ross’ business skills!

Disconnects in communication happen to all of us. Understanding the differences between Perceptual Styles can help you mitigate those disconnects (and a great answer from AI is icing on the cake!).

Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below.

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About Ricardo Vega

Ricardo Vega is the Director of Operations at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd. and a certified Perceptual Style Guide. He has over 40 years of experience in technology, product and project delivery, disaster recovery, and team coaching. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs and teams with Product Planning & Delivery, Team Building, and Change Administration.  For more information, visit

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