Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Steve's Steps To Being More People Friendly Step 4 PT2

(a Mini-Series within the series pt2)

So in my last post we talked about Susie, Melvin and Thom and their three unique communication styles. Based on the massive amounts of email that I received on this one, it seems pretty obvious most of those inflated examples resonated with many of you which is way cool. Thank you for sharing you take and keep 'em coming!

So why is how these three people communicate important to you? Ideally, I believe it is important to be able to identify what your communication tendencies tend to be and how that relates to the people you will encounter. By understanding at least the basics, one can adjust or position their communication style to be more aligned, if not complimentary, with another and thus increase the chance of a more successful communication exchange.

There are countless references to these kinds of communication styles but the ones I like the most tend to come from Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point and a book by a friend of mine Bijoy Goswami called The Human Fabric. Both books are excellent reads on understanding the communication styles and core energies of others. I reference some of this same material in my book The Ripple Effect as well.

When you examine Thom, you see a man driven by energy and results. He is focused on action. He would be what we call an Evangelist.

Melvin on the other hand focuses on ideas, data, facts, information and research. He would be what we would call a Maven.

Susie is all about people. She focuses on being empathetic, relationship-oriented, a connector and driven by results that help the group. She is what we could refer to as a Relater.

Now I know there are people out there that would refute this basic breakdown of communication styles as being....well, basic. Meyer's Briggs, DISC, and countless others are other available tools that one can use to determine how they communicate (and react, work, focus, etc., etc.) in certain situations. Though those are all great assessments and tools, they are rarely available in the context of meeting a stranger at a party. So alas, having at least an overly simplistic idea of how to ascertain the communication style of another is vitally important and useful to help facilitate a successful interaction and exchange.

As you might imagine, an Evangelist, being of action, likely would not do well in a conversation with a relator who focuses on bigger picture people results. He or she simply wants to push the idea and have people jump in line and follow them. A relater would simply not do that. They have to feel good about the concept the evangelist is presenting and likely would evaluate and measure the outcome and the affect it would have on others before making any decision to follow. This slowness in their process, their questions, their need to discuss and feel comfortable would frustrate the Evangelist who just wants to take the action and move on.

In comparison, a Maven on the other hand would be all about analyzing the data before making any rash decisions. Evangelists and Mavens have a very difficult time communicating because one could say they are polar opposites. Mavens are slower and more methodical when it comes to making decisions and often talk in language that revolves around statistics, proven facts, research and quantifiable analysis. This kind of talk would be too detailed for the Evangelist because it is simply not action oriented enough to keep them engaged. Ironically, some of the most dynamic duos of modern business success are a collaboration of these two efforts. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak from Apple for example.

All three communication styles have their advantages. Understanding your style and that of other people I believe is a critical competency. I often say one must know him or herself before they can hope to know another. I also believe that with this knowledge of one's self, and the ability to quickly deduce the person sitting across from you allows you to make adjustments to make your language, approach and energy more agreeable and safe for the other person.

Doesn't that mean I am compromising who I am? I don't think so. I think what it means is you have become more of a student of other people and in doing so, you literally become more aware, more present and more OPEN to others. In doing all of that, it allows you to increase the chance of a successful interaction and thus be more people friendly to those who are yet to know you.

Here's your challenge....decide what you are. If my examples are too out there or my explanations are too brief, check out both of the books I mentioned. Discover who you are and then take stock of those that are around you. Too often we spend times in our own circles surrounded by people with similar communication tendencies to ours. Break outside of that mold. If you are a Maven, make it your priority to have a successful interaction with a Relater. If you are an Evangelist, take some time to slow down and focus on how a Maven is processing you and what you are telling them.

Take a chance! Meet some new people that might initially make you uncomfortable and let yourself step outside of your normal communication style. Embrace what they have to offer and allow yourself to learn. When you do are well on your way to making yourself much more people friendly.

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