002: Dr. David Ludwig Discusses His Communication Typology “Painters & Pointers and more


Dr. David Ludwig is today’s guest. He is a professor at Lenoir Rhyne University, a psychologist and an ordained minister in the Lutheran church. He joins us to discuss how couples get tripped up in their communication styles and lose sight of the “we” of the relationship.

His Background

Dr. Ludwig begins with his background. He was in seminary and in university at the same time when it occurred to him that it is important to understand how psychology and spirituality could work in tandem, rather than separately.

Both fields seemed to deal with soul, only they dealt with the soul differently. Dr. Ludwig decided to marry the two.

Dr. Ludwig has worked mainly with marriages. He sees the marriage relationship as the foundation of the family.

He starts with the part of the relationship that has the power. Trying to change the other person is not operating from a place of power. Dr. Ludwig helps spouses see that they are different from one another, especially in how they communicate.

Painter and Pointers

Dr. Ludwig has created the “Painter/Pointer” typology. Painters communicate by painting a picture with their words. They cannot “think” without talking it out first. They think out loud.

Pointers, on the other hand, think things through before they speak and then when they do speak what they say is to the point. Painters “paint” a picture when communicating, whilst pointers are more like a file on the computer.

Listening Instructions:

A painter must “click” on the file of the pointer. In other words, pay attention to the first words of a pointer’s statement because that is the “point” that he or she is trying to get across.

A pointer must learn to sit back and enjoy what the painter has to say, understanding that the painter MUST “paint” the picture in order to express him/herself. Then, the pointer must summarize what the painter said. This summary shows the painter that he/she understands the feeling behind what is being said.

How the Bad Mood Settles In:

Frustration occurs when painters attempt to get “feeling” out of a pointer, or when pointers get impatient with listening to the painters “paint”.

Painters feel that pointers don’t care about them, or feel that they are not being listened to. Painters don’t feel heard or valued. They feel lonely.

Pointers feel blamed. Often pointers try to fix things, which makes painters feel like they are not being listened to. Conversations then go nowhere and a bad mood settles in.

Painters use words such as “never” to when they are frustrated. Pointers get frustrated by this because it is not necessarily literal. The Painter is using the word for effect.

Painters specialize in being prepared. They can get anxious because they look into what’s going to happen in the future. The Pointer finds this to be “over-reacting”.

If a Pointer allows a Painter to “think out loud”, then the Pointer is valuing the Painter and allowing them to fix themselves.

Painters want to know what Pointers are thinking. They often make the Pointers mad just to get emotion out of them.

Painters Marry Pointers

In an overwhelming majority of cases, Painters marry Pointers.

For Painters to better understand Pointers, Painters must be specific about their questions. Don’t ask a number of questions, instead, zero on one word of their short response and a question specific to that one word.

If you’re not getting emotion from a Pointer, you’re not “clicking” on what he has to say. Pointers do not allow themselves to be emotionally vulnerable.

Painters feel that Pointers are hiding things from them. When actually, the Pointer has revealed things, just not in a way that the Painter understands.

Dr. Ludwig is the developer of the “Painters & Pointers” communication typology.


To watch some videos on “Painters & Pointers” : Painters & Pointers videos

Click here to purchase Dr. Ludwig’s latest book:

Having a problem with communication? Find out if you’re a painter or a pointer. Knowing which type you are will help you better communicate with your spouse. Dr. David Ludwig explains how your communication style could be getting in the way of satisfying conversation and how to overcome it.

Published by

Vincent & Laura Ketchie

Vincent Ketchie, LPC and Laura Ketchie, LPC are the hosts of Relationship Helpers, a podcast where they discuss family issues and interview relationship experts. Vincent and Laura are licensed marriage counselors.

2 thoughts on “002: Dr. David Ludwig Discusses His Communication Typology “Painters & Pointers and more”

    1. Well, that is a big question. The situation always needs to be considered. So it may be different depending on the atmosphere, location, culture, etc. But the short answer is to always be assertive in a relationship. My definition of assertive is to speak honestly and directly your needs, feelings, and wants in a relaxed, loving manner, making sure that the atmosphere is appropriate (meaning – it may not be the right time to speak at all, if the atmosphere is bad.) We plan to have an upcoming series in about a month or so on assertiveness. Thanks for the question.

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