The Beauty of Behavior: Know More, Struggle Less
By Paula Switzer
Most of us have heard of these types of instruments before: Myers-Briggs (MBTI), Social Styles, DISC, Colors, etc. There are many of these tools available, and most of us have taken at least one test over the years – perhaps as a part of a college course or at work.
Our response to these tests usually sounds like, “Yea, that’s pretty much like me,” and then we leave the experience thinking that was nice to know but, “So what? What do I DO with that knowledge?”
Like anything else in our lives, if we want to get better at something, we have to practice. I play golf for fun. I’ll never be a great golfer, because I don’t have the time it would take (and patience) to be really good. But I do enjoy going out with my buddies and playing several times during the year. I pick up tips here and there, and try it out. I have even opted for a private lesson from time to time.
And yes, I am a better golfer today than I was a few years back. But it’s not my passion. I have a good friend who took up golf in her mid-fifties. She is passionate about the game, and invests a lot of time and energy into it, and she is becoming an exceptional golfer.
I am, however, passionate about behavioral styles. They are my road map for interacting with people in almost every situation, even on the golf course!
Over the years, I have studied various models of behavior, personality, etc. One of the things I find fascinating is the more I learn, the easier it is to navigate relationships, sales situations, conflict, and overall communication.
What if you could find a way to understand what motivates a person? Find out what their main goals, fears, and blind spots are? Wouldn’t that be helpful in dealing with them both personally and professionally? Zig Ziglar (and others) said, “You can get anything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want”.
As a leader and manager, I have found this to be true. By understanding behavior I can create a win-win relationship in many situations.
Are you thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that manipulation?” The often-used definition of manipulation is the following: “To control or influence someone or something cleverly and unscrupulously, especially to one’s own advantage.”
When we are practicing reading people and heeding the words of Zig Ziglar, we are not manipulating. We are helping others get what they want, which in turn helps us get the outcome we desire. The key is being sincere and ethical and wanting the best for both parties involved. Isn’t that what leadership and influence is all about? Isn’t that what good negotiators strive to do?
What I have found is that behavior is highly predictable. Let me give you a quick overview of one of the most popular models out there, the DISC model. It has been used by over 45 million people and is available in numerous languages. Here are the four quadrants of behavior:
- Characteristics: Fast-paced, quick to make decisions, intense, bottom-line orientation.
- Key Goal: Results, accomplishment.
- Key Fear: Being taken advantage of, losing control.
- Blind Spot: Insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others.
- Characteristics: Fast-paced, communicative, likes people and relationships.
- Key Goal: Being able to influence others, being competent, looking good.
- Key Fear: Losing their influence, social rejection.
- Blind Spot: Disorganized, lack of follow through.
- Characteristics: Slower paced, team player, loyal, good listener, kind, sensitive.
- Key Goal: Acceptance, appreciation, stability.
- Key Fear: Loss of stability, sudden change.
- Blind Spot: Putting their own needs last, overly possessive.
- Characteristics: Slower paced, deliberate, methodical, analytical, high standards.
- Key Goal: Accuracy, quality.
- Key Fear: Criticism of their work.
- Blind Spot: Overly critical of self and others.
If I learn these key concepts and start engaging in basic people reading, I can start to observe behavior and practice adapting my style to meet the needs of others. Once you start to ask yourself, “What am I seeing right now?” you can start to unlock the pieces to the behavioral puzzle.
If you are noticing fear in someone regarding an upcoming change, you may be observing some “Steadiness” or “S” behavior. Stop and figure out how to be a better listener to their concerns, slow down, and offer support and acceptance for their feelings.
If they feel listened to and appreciated, you can work through the anxiety and help them adjust to the change. It really can be that simple.
The problem is that most of us stay stuck in our own preferred behavior, and expect everyone else to respond as we do. This only leads to miscommunication, conflict, and disappointment.
Behavior is pretty predictable, and with a little knowledge and practice we can become students of behavior and get what we want by helping others get what they want. What a concept!
Paula K. Switzer, is the owner of Switzer Resource Group, Inc. in the Kansas City area and is a featured author in Leadership Defined.
Switzer Resource Group, Inc. works with leaders in businesses & government organizations, helping them improve their customer service, increase sales, and enhance teamwork by providing skill-based training, hands-on coaching, and the use of other resources as needed. This is done by creating an environment where managers and individual contributors become active partners in their organization’s success.
The articles reprinted here are copyrighted by Switzer Resources Group, Inc., Resale or false representation of the author’s work is prohibited by law.
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