View from the Hot Tub #8

I hope the elevator analogy last blog did the trick and you’ve pegged your primary behavior style. See if you can peg your parent’s, spouse’s and kid’s style…or your significant other. Recognizing and understanding why the people around you act the way they do is essential to avoiding conflicts in relationships and success in jobs and careers.

For example, one of my majors in college was Communications which is where I was introduced to the concept of behavior styles. It taught me to recognize my immense deficiency in detail work. Becoming an engineer or accountant would have been disastrous. Even as a teacher, I had to convince the principal that I needed a student assistant. My last couple years teaching I found a marvelous young lady—Desiree—who I recognized could efficiently handle attendance, keep up my record book, and other details that could keep me from getting fired.

When I morphed into a financial planner, I, of course, knew I needed someone to keep me on track and do all the “dirty” work i.e., filing, filling out applications, necessary paperwork, and, more importantly, keep me busy seeing potential clients. Everyone said I couldn’t hire someone until I had income. I recognized I wouldn’t have any income unless I found somebody. “Who?” was going to be essential. Fortunately the right person—Marlene—took a seminar I had given and became a client. I recognized immediately this wonderful woman would help me succeed. Marlene was an “amiable” and so willing to accept my lack of organization and, although younger than me, would become my “mother” and take care of me. I give Marlene much of the credit for my success and me credit for recognizing her value and who she was. We are still friends and, I hope, will be forever.

When I started my own company I also recognized I’d need the right styles on our “team” to succeed. Being a “people-person,” I would be the relationship-builder. My son, Eric—an amiable— would be the president and ensure we all got along. Ken, an accountant, would fill the role of “analytical” and be the CFO. The support staff, with my daughter Alex becoming as efficient an office manager as you could find being a combo of analytical—she doesn’t make mistakes, and, she may not even agree with, a “D” (dominant, direct. “keep out of my space.”) Of course I drove her crazy as an “expressive", but also partly because when I didn’t feel things were moving along the way they should, I reverted to my secondary “D” as I did when coaching. But, all in all we avoided any serious conflict…and it worked.

I financed my transition from teaching to financial planning by hiring and training rookie potential planners, mostly on how to recognize and “read” the styles of potential clients so as to give them what they needed. An “Expressive” for example needs to like you and “feel good” about the relationship. Casual attire, stories and laughter worked best.

No laughter and stories with “Drivers.” Get to the point, demonstrate at least the potential for success, and dress the part. Only one appointment frequently necessary. The same for Expressives.

Multiple appointments for “Analyticals.” Plenty of supporting documentation: charts, graphs, numbers, historical data, etc. Like “D’s” they don’t need to like you. They have to have total confidence you know what you’re talking about.

“Amiables” are the sneakiest. Because they avoid conflict, they want to like you but also like “numbers.” But it’s hard to get a “read,” because they might “act” like the like you, smile and nod their heads the whole time while thinking you’re full of crap.

Bottom line, of course, is it won’t (or shouldn’t) work if you don’t care and you’re not trustworthy (all good relationships, naturally, need care and trust—in life or business).

So, without me appearing to be too pedantic, life should be easier if we not only understand ourselves and how we come across to others, but why other people act the way they do.

Next “View:” How this relates to education. Hopefully you’ll all be able to relate.