The PEMS model

What is this method?

PEMS is a tool/frame to help you design spaces, processes, services or other things in ways that enable a holistic and powerful experience.

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How does the process look like?

We invite you first to read more about the PEMS model:

Simply put, this is a tool to use that helps you build your workshop. It stands for:


P - Practical (doing, taking action, testing, prototyping)

E - Emotional (relating, making friends, getting to know the people you work with)

M - Mental (thinking, discussing, using facts, creating models and systems)

S - Spiritual (being inspired and inspiring others, seeing the bigger picture, asking “why”)


These dimensions represent four different ways of relating to the world. Four different sets of needs that we all have, but each one of us has a personal preference (or two). The PEMS model has been developed by Master Trainer Daniel Sà Nogueira, based on Carl Gustav Jung’s work on psychological types. Following an excerpt of his book Trate A Vida Por Tuthat was translated by Magdalena Musiala:

In this model, we distinguish four dominant preferences (P-E-M-S) that correspond to the four elements of life:

Practical (the body: DOING, Activity, Action, related to the element of EARTH):

Corresponds to someone that is earthly, active, dynamic, practical, that does a lot. In excess, these are people who never stop to consider their actions.


Emotional
(the heart: FEELING, Feelings, Love, related to the element of WATER):

Corresponds to someone who needs people, relations, who gives a lot to others and seeks affection. In excess, these are people who might be overly sensitive.


Mental
(the mind: THINKING, Analysis, Intellect, Logic, related to the element of AIR):

Corresponds to someone who values analysis, rationalisation and uses logic, and who always focuses on making the right decision. In excess, these are people who might become impersonal and cold.

Spiritual (the soul: BEING, Values, Existence, related to the element of FIRE):

Corresponds to someone who thinks that everything has meaning and a higher purpose. These are people who care very much about values. In excess, they can fluctuate too much and concretise too little.

These four logics of the mind that we have identified are also based on the four elements:

Practical - EARTH (firm, solid, stable, secure, strong, dense)

Emotional - WATER (flexible, always coming back to her-/himself)

Mental - AIR (transparent, lightweight, fast, facilitates communication)

Spiritual - FIRE (burning, fleeting, transforming, powerful)

Thus, in a very simplified manner, we can divide people into four categories:

Practical people (P) – Like to act and do!

These are the people who like action, movement. They are the ones who make the world move. As friends or clients they may want to go straight to the point, try things and learn about practical matters. The greatest fear of these practical persons is losing control! They like to feel that they are in control of the situation, of the pace of the conversation and of the surroundings.

→ HELP THEM ALWAYS FEEL IN CONTROL.


Emotional people (E) – Like to feel and relate!

These are people who love people and sharing feelings. Everything is an emotion for them. And they feel things about everything and everyone. Let them talk about their family, friends, dogs, neighbours, etc… They will talk mostly about people and what they are feeling. Their greatest fear is losing empathy. They like to feel reliable and they want to relate.

→ HELP THEM FEEL EMPATHY TOWARDS YOU.

Mental people (M) – Like to think and analyse!

These are people who like to analyse and who try to put everything into a box, into a certain perspective. They are precise and meticulous. They like detail, to study and analyse all possibilities. They don’t fear debating (quite the contrary) and discussing, they love the exchanging ideas and arguments, but they need to end up being right or get a very good explanation to why the other is right. A mental person is always striving to make the best decision. Their greatest fear is to be wrong; they like to feel that they are correct and that they are making decisions based on logic and rational thinking.

→ HELP THEM FEEL THAT THEY ARE RIGHT, THAT THEIR POINT OF VIEW HAS BEEN HEARD.

Spiritual people (S) – Like to be and shine!

They are looking for the greater purpose in things. They believe that everything has a reason, that there are no coincidences and it’s this quest that moves them. They give great meaning to every situation. The greater the significance of a task or project, the greater their motivation. Their biggest fear is to have no meaning! To not be significant or “shine” in any way. They need to feel conscious and whole.

→ HELP THEM FEEL SIGNIFICANT.

Although we all have and use a portion of these four categories in the different contexts or times of our life, one of them is predominant in us. Identifying it is important for managing and interacting with life and with others, since it is the best and the fastest way of accessing the Map of the world of someone and speaking a language that that person recognises and accepts as her own.


How to apply this model practically

Notice the structure of this method blog. It starts with the Purpose, the Why (Spiritual), followed by a picture of people in a Workshop (Emotional) and continues with some further conceptual information (Mental). So this part is about how to practically translate this model in your work.

  1. The model isn’t reality, it’s a map. Because it’s simple it’s useful and because of its simplicity it will always just be an abstraction of reality. Don’t confuse the map with the territory.

  2. Understand that PEMS is contextual: e.g. you have different preferences when you’re with your family than at work.

  3. Understand how PEMS works in your own experience: What are your practical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs and preferences? How does this impact your perceptions of what is good, right, meaningful, worthwhile? With what kind of people do you usually have difficulties to “be on the same page?” and how might PEMS give you hints as to why this might be? How is PEMS represented in the Workshops, presentations, meetings you have been part of or are still part of? What are you learning out of this?

  4. Remind yourself of PEMS in your next piece of work and see if you get new ideas.

  5. PEMS is really useful to think about different ways of engaging people. Below are  questions that you may choose to ask yourself depending on the context:

    • Practical: Do you have breaks? Is there a clear structure? What are the goals?  Are the logistics clear for you and for the participants? Do you have snacks that give people the nutrition they need without sending them into a sugar-coma? What are the concrete actions that can be taken? Can people do something with their hands at some point? When can people move? Is there an opportunity to be outside? Is there an agenda?

    • Emotional: Do people know each other's names? Have people the opportunity to talk with each other? Is there an opportunity for people to exchange their thoughts and feelings? Is there an opportunity to share a story? Can include  real-life scenarios or examples?

    • Mental: What are the concepts, theories, facts and figures that you can share? Are there opportunities to analyse them? Can you include further readings? Is there an opportunity to meta-analyse the process?  

    • Spiritual: Why does it matter? How can you help people connect their actions with the bigger picture? Is there space for the “big conversations”? What is really essential? What are you/we trying to create? How does it relate to our values/vision/purpose?

Sources and Further Literature on the topic

  • ”Trate A Vida Por Tu” by Daniel Sá Nogueira, pp.77-80 (Excerpt translated by Magdalena Musiala, taken from euforias facilitation handbook)