2.1.3 A Description of the Other Person in Their Own Terms

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You’ll find that, as a bare-bones procedure, a grid is very straightforward.

There’s nothing difficult about it. However, there is a substantial amount of

skill involved in obtaining an accurate description of the other person’s

constructs and values, and this book sets out to teach you how to do so. The

‘Things to Do’ section includes exercises which will help you to practise what

I’m preaching.

The end result is a description which stays true to the constructs being offered

by the other person, rather than to your own. This involves you in questioning,

checking, and mulling over what exactly the other person means – in other

words, negotiating your understanding of what the other person means. It’s

very much a two-way process.

As well as being procedurally simple, the technique is relatively quick. With

practice, you’ll find that you can obtain all the individual, distinct constructs a

person has on a given topic in under an hour. (With practice also, another 40

minutes or so will be sufficient time to arrive at the person’s core constructs

and personal values, by use of the laddering and resistance to change

techniques I describe in Sections 8.1.1 and 8.2.)

Some potential users get worried at this point. ‘An hour spent with one person

is too long’, they’ll tell you. Well, that’s just too bad! If you want to do

something properly, you take the time involved. An hour’s structured

interviewing isn’t a lot to ask for results which are very powerful indeed.

Quite so.The alternativeswhich people haveinmindwhen theymake this comparison

are often (Jankowicz, 2000a: 96):

(a) a conversation lasting 5 to10 minutes, a procedure which can be informative but

never to the level of detail obtained by a grid

(b) a semi-structured or fully structured interview which lasts between 30 and 60

minutes: almost as long, but unlikely to have the same precision unless it is, in

fact, a repertory grid interview!

(c) a psychometric test, which doesn’t describe the person in terms of his or her own

constructs. It imposes researchers’own constructs, their own framework for understanding

people, onto the individual, with all the force and energy of a supermarket

bread-slicingmachine.Andmanypsychometric testsareanhour long, inanycase.