Understanding people has slowly become a necessary skill to develop. If we want to get something done from someone, it is important to know what kind of a person we are dealing with. It is fascinating to understand what makes people tick. Why some people react in one way and why some people react in the other. Is it the belief system that they espouse? Is it their life experiences? Or is it something innate? Where it comes to counselling for mental health and well being or when it comes to life coaching, a key consideration is the receptivity of the individual being counselled or coached and his willingness to take action in the suggested direction. Too often, one comes across people who want to be coached but do not want to take responsibility for their improvement. Too often, people expect their coaches to have a magic pill which can be prescribed and which will set their lives right in the blink of an eye.

There are various classifications that have emerged in the understanding of people, but over the last few years, since I have started observing human behaviour, in order to be able to help people deal with their mental health and wellbeing issues, through personal interactions, one-on-one or in a group, online, or through any other mode, I have identified four types of people:

  1. YSYO – Yes-Self-Yes-Others: This is the first category of people. A person from this category takes full responsibility for himself, and is willing to help others as well. This state is the most evolved state to be in. The person realises that if he has to become a better person, he has to take ownership of the process. He works towards it diligently, (even if he does take help), without blaming anyone else if he fails. In addition, he also realises that he could use some of his skills and knowledge to help others become a better version of themselves. This is a non-judgmental, philanthropic, standpoint where a person is not just, not a burden on others, but is in fact, elemental in lessening others’ burdens, in whichever way he can.
  2. YSNO – Yes-Self-No-Others: This is the second category of people. A person belonging to this category, takes full responsibility for himself, but is either incapable or unwilling to try and help others. He is able to fend for himself, knowing what is right for him and what he needs to do to improve himself, but is not of much help to others. He may not really be selfish, just incapable. This may not be a bad state to be in because at least he is not causing anyone else any trouble. And taking full responsibility for his personal success or failure.
  3. NSYO – No-Self-Yes-Others: This is a broad category. This could have the following types:
    • The martyr: This person is willing to help others, while being in complete disregard for self. This person may know he needs help, but either does not have the time or could not be bothered.
    • The egoist: This person doesn’t think he needs help at all. He is forever trying to change the other person, in a bid to ‘help’ them. And expects to be thanked for it.
    • The whiner: This person knows he needs help. And he is willing to seek help. He is just not willing to take responsibility for bringing the change in himself and constantly whines about life being unfair to him. He could be a great help to others though, since his sense of self worth sometimes comes from how helpful others think he is.
  4. NSNO – No Self No Others: A person from this category needs help but is neither willing to take responsibility for self, not willing or capable of helping others. These would perhaps be the clinical cases needing the care of a psychiatrist.

As a caregiver, it is important to also understand which category the sufferer falls under and calibrate the action plan accordingly.