Archive for March, 2010

4 Simple Styles Help Get Great Results……..

Friday, March 5th, 2010

When someone says they’re not a people person, what does that really mean? Do they mean it in the general sense – that they don’t like people? That seems odd because friends, parents, spouses or partners, kids – well, they’re all people. Or do they mean that they like people but just find them difficult to deal with? That seems easier to understand because we’ve all found ourselves in that situation at one time or another.

Why is that though, why are people difficult to deal with? Sometimes it’s because they’ve just made up their mind to be that way. You can still try to deal with them, but be prepared to fail (someone who has made up their mind to be really difficult will make sure you fail)!

Most often, however, it’s not because they, as a person, are difficult – or indeed that we are difficult. It’s because we either don’t understand the other person’s perspective on the situation that has brought us together and/or they don’t understand ours. Why, you ask, is that? Well, we all see things differently. That’s the result of our education, our background, our experiences and all of the other things that make us who we are.

The ways in which we see things, our perspective, exhibit themselves in what Dorothy and Robert Bolton call our style. There are no right or wrong styles or good or bad styles, there are just styles – and everyone has one. The key is to know our own and to be able to identify the style of the person we’re dealing with. The Boltons came to the conclusion that there are only 4. So, they’re not too difficult to remember or to use.

Each person’s style is a product of how Assertive and Responsive they are considered to be by the people around them. Assertiveness is the degree (relative to other people) to which we are seen as being directive or forceful. Responsiveness is the degree to which we are perceived as being either emotionally responsive or controlled.
• People with the Driver style blend a relatively high degree of emotional control with a high degree of assertiveness; they are seen as being decisive, pragmatic and efficient. Their opposites are Amiable types who combine a high level of emotional responsiveness with a relatively low level of assertiveness. Amiables are supportive, patient and loyal.
• The Analytical style is often found in, for example, accountants and engineers – two professions which typically attract people with high emotional self-control and a relatively low level of assertiveness and who are logical, thorough and serious. An example of their opposites is salespeople, who are often Expressives, highly assertive and very emotionally responsive. Expressives are outgoing, enthusiastic and persuasive.

Notice that I referred to Analyticals and Expressives as opposites (as I did with Drivers and Amiables). If 2 people with opposite styles set out to communicate how difficult is that going to be? Odds are that they may – to use the old expression – rub each other up the wrong way. But what will happen if the Expressive (seeking to improve his/her sales skills) has learned about the 4 styles and understands the typical Analytical’s style? The salesperson can adapt his/her behaviour to accommodate the accountant’s approach and steer the meeting to a win-win outcome.

What applies to a salesperson, applies just as much to the rest of us – particularly if we have people reporting to us. Taking time to adapt – or flex – our style to that of the people we work with means our company will benefit from the most effective efforts we all have to give. It also means less frustration and that everyone will be happier at work.

Understanding a person’s style also helps us understand how they will react when they are under pressure. The researchers established that all 4 styles move to more extreme, rigid and non-negotiable forms of behaviour when under stress. Analyticals become avoiders, perhaps even leaving the room when stressed, while Amiables acquiesce and comply, although they may not do what they have agreed to do. Drivers become more pushy and autocratic, insisting that things are done their way – now! Expressives typically unleash a personal attack accompanied by strong language, high volume and emphatic gestures.

Try this: think of 1 or 2 people you work with and figure out their style using the characteristics mentioned above. Then think about the last time you saw them under pressure. Did they behave as expected? Odds are that they did. We can use this knowledge to avoid or defuse potentially destructive situations.

We say people are our most valuable resource. So take a little time and figure out your own style. Then take a little more and do the same for the people you work (and live) with. Understanding and using these 4 simple styles will help you get a much better response from people – and leave them wondering why you’re never difficult!

To take issue with anything I’ve said, share your experiences or to learn more about the book “Social Style/Management Style” by Robert and Dorothy Grover Bolton, drop me an email.


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