Discover Yourself – Adapting to the Style of Others

One of the advantages of knowing one’s own personality type and being aware of the other personality types that might be encountered is evident in a business setting. Those in management positions have the most authority to force others to adapt to their own style – but to get the best from their workers, it actually benefits managers to adapt to others to some extent. For a productive team and a harmonious environment, it is a good idea for leaders to learn techniques to accommodate the preferences and personality types of those around them.

Today I’ll be sharing some practical tips on how managers can adapt to the style of others.

Communication Method

One big differentiator between various personality types in a work setting is their preferred method of communication. Introverted people often prefer to communicate through email, as it allows them time and space to process information and formulate a cogent response in their own time. Extroverted people, especially those who like to think out loud in a collaborative way, will often prefer to stop by someone else’s office in order to discuss an issue and get input on it. People who are highly skilled at multitasking may prefer talking on the phone so that they can accomplish some other small tasks while discussing a topic.

Of course, business necessities will always trump personal preferences. If a manager needs an answer immediately, then they are going to drop by others’ offices or call them to save time. If employees work remotely, then email will be the default. However, outside of these necessities, it is advisable for managers to be flexible. If they know that a given employee will give their best response to a query via email, then it makes sense to allow them to use that communication method where possible.

Communication Style

Another related issue is the complexities of communication style. This is an issue in which many people lack self-awareness, which is why it is important for managers to be proactive in addressing this topic. Some people, particularly those who are strongly focused on tasks, will want to know only the essential information that they require in order to complete their job. Giving these people more detail when communicating will only confuse or frustrate them. Other people, particularly those who are focused on relationships, will want to understand the part that their role plays in the bigger picture. Therefore, they will appreciate being furnished with all of the details of a situation even if it doesn’t directly affect them.

Managers who take note of the personality types of their employees can communicate with them more clearly by giving the appropriate level of detail for that personality type. A manager might choose to give a few key bullet points versus explaining an issue in depth, for example, depending on the preferences of the people they are addressing. When a manager needs to address a number of people, such as when emailing a group, then for maximum clarity they can include both: have bullet points with the essential information at the top, and then a section with additional information at the bottom. This way, the readers of the email can pick the appropriate level of communication for themselves.

Meetings

A challenge of the modern office is the dreaded meeting. Meetings are essential for conducting many aspects of business successfully, but they can be draining and are rarely enjoyed by all of the participants. When looked at in terms of personality type, this dislike of meetings is unsurprising. With multiple different personality types in one room trying to make progress all together, it is almost inevitable that there will be difficulties.

Managers have the chance to set the expectations and tone for meetings, and to moderate to make them more productive and helpful for everyone involved. The first step to a more productive meeting is to set goals clearly: is the purpose of the meeting to brainstorm, to plan, or to troubleshoot? Knowing the goal will help keep participants on track and allow different personality types to approach the topic in their own way. Also, is a meeting actually required? If the purpose of the meeting is purely to update others, for example, then this is best accomplished by sending out an email instead of gathering everyone together.

The second step is to send out an agenda for the meeting in advance. This will allow introverts to plan what they want to say, rather than forcing them to make off-the-cuff comments. The third step can be accomplished as a part of the agenda or as an in-person introduction, and that is to have a clear structure for the meeting. For example, first go around in a circle to share ideas or opinions without interruptions, and then have a free-for-all discussion session. This structure will help the more rigid team members know when to give input, and the more go-with-the-flow team members can thrive in the free discussion session.

Presenting, Teaching, and Workshopping

When it comes to presenting to a group, being aware of other personality styles can be a challenge. There are distinctly different learning styles as well as personality styles to consider, but a presenter will not always have a lot of information about a group’s styles before talking to them. Learning styles can include a preference for auditory material, written material, group discussion, or active engagement for best learning.

However, this needn’t be an insurmountable problem. Presenters already tend to use different teaching modalities – i.e. they talk to the group which is ideal for auditory learners, and they use slides which are good for visual learners. To make a presentation more accessible for other learning styles, presenters can set aside some time for group work and for practical hands-on work as well. These two new modalities will help those who learn best by talking an issue through with others or who learn by doing. Combining this approach to presenting and teaching with a personality-based approach for communication and meetings can enable managers to get the most from their employees.

To learn more about personality styles and how knowledge about them can benefit managers, visit www.discoveryourself.com.

Discover Yourself – Effective Listening

management and psychology
In business, learning to listen to others is a crucial skill, especially when working in management. Whether we’re speaking with our employees, our clients, or with the upper management team, we must strive to hone our communication skills in terms of both conveying information and taking information in.

Today we’re going to discuss an approach called effective listening, also known as active listening. We’ll also share some practical tips to improve active listening skills.

Do we really listen?

Most people think that they are a good listener. A study by William Haney from the 1970s asked over 13,000 people from various organizations to compare their listening skills with others who they worked with. The results showed that virtually every person thought that they communicated as well as or better than almost everyone else in their organization. Of course, this is not how averages work! In reality, a study by Husman and colleagues from the 1980s found that most people listen at just 25% efficiency. Other studies since then have found that we only take in about 25 – 50% of what we hear.

There’s obviously a big gap between us judging ourselves to be excellent listeners and the reality that we hear less than half of what is said to us. We tend to overestimate our listening skills in part because communication takes place between at least two people, making it difficult to gauge whether we are communicating effectively without input from the other party. Another issue is the lack of clear objective criteria for assessing whether communication has been successful. Overall, this ubiquitous overestimation suggests that while we all agree that listening is important, we also don’t generally feel a need to improve our own listening skills.

Why effective listening matters

This gap between how we perceive our listening skills to be and how our listening skills actually are can cause serious issues in the workplace and elsewhere. Managers should strive to understand the employee perspective as well as the information being shared, even if the method used to convey this information is somewhat less than crystal clear.

Effective listening not only helps to diffuse conflicts and deal with problems, it also helps foster a greater understanding between managers and employees. It allows us to hone in on the subtle cues that help us assess a person’s strengths and weaknesses, thereby allowing us to formulate positive responses that will be most effective in encouraging and motivating them.

What is effective listening?

What exactly is effective listening, and how is it different from regular listening? A study in the Harvard Business Review analyzed the behavior of nearly 3,500 participants and found common patterns of behavior among the most effective listeners:

  • Effective listening requires active engagement, not just silence. Asking questions establishes a two-way dialogue with the speaker. If we sit in silence, it is hard for the speaker to know if they are being heard. But if we engage and asks for clarification or for more information, that demonstrates to the speaker that their message is clearly understood.
  • Effective listening makes the speaker feel positive. When a person feels listened to in a positive way, their self-esteem rises. In effective listening, we should be supportive and convey confidence in the speaker, even when we don’t necessarily agree with what is being said. The aim of effective listening is not to challenge the speaker or their ideas, but to understand their perspective through the creation of a safe environment.
  • Effective listening is cooperative. While it’s important to not listen in silence, it is equally crucial to pose questions in a way that is not combative or interrogative. We’re not trying to win an argument, but to cooperate in building a consensus of mutual understanding, even when there is disagreement between ourselves and the speaker.
  • Effective listening is proactive. The fact that effective listening is cooperative and not combative doesn’t mean that we can’t provide feedback. In fact, one of the hallmarks of effective listening is providing suggestions to the speaker. When we feel listened to and respected, we become more receptive to suggestions than when those suggestions come from someone who has been combative or argumentative.

In summary, the HBR study found that effective listening is about more than passively absorbing information – it is about letting the speaker bounce their ideas off of us and creating an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.

Methods to listen effectively

Let’s take a look at some practical tips we can use to improve our effective listening while bearing the above points in mind:

  • Maintain good eye contact. Doing so allows us to signal to the speaker that they have our undivided attention.
  • Don’t interrupt. Let the speaker explain in their own time without jumping in while they are talking.
  • Don’t just wait for the next opening to talk. It’s very common to become preoccupied with looking for the next opportunity to speak. Instead, we should always focus on the present and what’s being said.
  • Don’t judge or require justifications. It’s okay to ask clarifying questions, be we should be careful to avoid putting the speaker on the spot to defend their position or otherwise suggest we need to be persuaded to listen further.
  • Use open body language. Maintain forward-facing posture towards the speaker, nod as they speak, use confirmation words like “uh huh,” and smile.
  • Repeat back to the speaker. One popular management technique is to confirm with the speaker. When they have finished, we can say “So if I’m understanding you, you’re saying that…”

Effective listening is critical for becoming a better manager. By implementing these techniques in our everyday communication, we can foster a more productive working environment among our employees, clients and peers.

Learn more about how using Insights Discovery can help you become a better listener, at www.discoveryourself.com

Check back soon for more posts on psychology and management!

Communicating Personalities

personality

Getting along with others isn’t easy, especially in a working environment. Not only do we have to deal with our jobs, but we also have to deal with the people around us as well as the individuals who may work above and below us in the professional hierarchy. Being in tune with all these factors is complicated, made all the more so by how we react and interact with each piece of the puzzle.

Understanding how personality fits into all this can add another factor to an already complex arena of life. Personality in the workplace is often underestimated- we expect, or our bosses expect, people to act in a way that is beneficial to them, the company, or the task at hand. With individuals with different working styles, jobs, and personalities whirling about, this can prove to be a chaotic chore.

Working with personality
Utilizing the strengths of each personality type is vital to the success of professional environments. When people feel the freedom to be themselves and feel like their strengths are being acknowledged, great things can happen. When people run up against managers or co-workers that don’t recognize what they have to offer, jobs can become stale, dull, and frustrating.
For instance, a Fiery Red personality does well when they can work quickly and effectively. They may be personally frustrated when they need to work on a project that requires a lot of planning; far from being hasty, Fiery Red personalities are quick and decisive. Working with a Sunshine Yellow personality means that people will come first, and the social aspect of a project is emphasized. Sunshine Yellow personalities can be frustrated when others aren’t considered, or when there isn’t enough time to get to know those around them or that they may work with.
Emphasizing strength
Just as it is with communicating and adapting to each other’s personalities, recognizing each personality type requires patience and clarity. We can’t be expected to know everything about another person, but we can notice their (and our) habits that stem from our personality types. There needs to be an effort made to adapt to one another’s working styles, and understanding how personality plays into that can make a big difference.
Personality isn’t the only thing that makes a work environment successful, but when the power of personality is utilized it can make an average workplace into something much bigger.
Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Using Other Color Personalities

teamwork

When it comes to adapting and communicating, we sometimes miss the point. We get more caught up in finishing a project or assignment than actually hearing what someone else is saying. We rush through directions with our team without understanding that a person in the group might have a better idea, or might be caught up in their concept of the project or idea. We forget that adapting to others’ work styles can make our professional lives easier, even as it teaches us to change our perceptions and behavior.

Work can be tough. We’re expected to lead a group of people we may not know well; we’re expected to follow directions, even when they don’t make sense to us. Somehow we all have to form some cooperative agreement to meet our work goals, and some of us might have the chance to build personal relationships with the people we work with.

The skills of others

Finding people you trust and mesh with at work can make a professional environment a lot more friendly and welcoming, especially when you spend the majority of your week there. Building personal relationships in a professional environment is possible, but can be difficult. You may be surrounded by people whose strengths and personalities are much different than yours. You’re also surrounded by people who may not want a personal relationship with their co-workers as they vie for professional accolades or promotion.

Stepping back and gaining a new perspective on a professional situation can help you deal with it better, no matter your personality or the personalities of the people around you. Noticing where you are in conflict with others can help you determine how you can change your attitude or approach to a professional situation.

Having someone you trust at your job can also help you notice where your personality might clash with others and how you can prevent these clashes in the future. A good action plan for adapting and communicating better with those around you might take an outside pair of eyes to create. We can’t always see where we might be reacting wrongly in a situation, but an objective bystander may be able to shed light on the problem.

Strengths and weaknesses

The personality strengths we have depend on what Color Personality we are. Other people have different strengths and weaknesses that we can use to better communicate with people around us. Using their insights and trusting their judgment can open up our professional lives in many ways.

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Strategic Communications

 

communication

Strategy and communication are often two words that cause a buzz in a professional environment. Some people cringe when they hear the word strategy- it means a coordinated plan, or at least what seems like a coordinated plan to those who came up with it. For those who have to implement these workplace strategies, it can simply mean a lot more work.

Ditto with communications. We often talk about communicating better in our professional lives, and even in our personal lives. We wonder why someone misinterpreted our email or other digital communication, forgetting that other people don’t know what’s going on in our heads. Our tone, vocabulary, and structure of our communications can carry a larger message than the content of our communication efforts.

Implementing strategies

Putting together a strategic plan for communicating better with others doesn’t have to be a pain, but it will lead to a shift in your perspective and attitude toward other people and situations that may come up with in your life. The Four Color Personalities idea is built around the concept that we each have different personality strengths that can be built into broader categorizations about how we interact with and react to the world around us. These categories not only help us understand why we think and act the way we do but why others behave in the ways they do as well.

Coordinating your personality and matching it up to what you know about someone else isn’t the final solution to strategic communication- far from it! Strategic communication means learning about yourself, who you are, and what your personality is like so that you can better grasp why some people are easy to work with and why others might not be.

Creating an intentional atmosphere of strategic communication is something that can take place at home, at work, or even out and about during your everyday life.

Intentional Communication

Sometimes it can take more than a little bit of effort to break through a communication barrier with a co-worker, a boss, or a business partner you have contact with. You may need an outside pair of eyes to see where your communication skills may be lacking, and what you could do to improve your connection with another person. Think about what strategies you could use to communicate better with the knowledge of someone else’s color personality in mind.

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!