Taking it personally.

We have all been touched by recent economic events.  If it hasn’t impacted you personally, I am sure you have at least one friend or relative who has either experienced a change in their job situation or is expecting one.  


I just met with a friend who was laid off. He had wisely concluded that the layoff might have had something to do with his communication skills and asked me for help. We talked about his prior job experiences and the kinds of people he worked with both inside his company and outside it.


Based on what I know about different behavioral styles from the DISC assessment tools, I could quickly see that my friend was right.  His career difficulties were probably related to his communication skills.  


He is a high “C” (detail-oriented introvert) who was regularly paired with salespeople who are high “I’s” (people-oriented extroverts).  His stories confirmed that he was not able to get the information he needed to succeed because team members didn’t share information with him.  This is often the case when you put a “C” with an “I” or vice-versa.  Their natural communication styles tend to be very different.  The “C” wants to share every fact while the “I” wants to hear the high points.  It can be even worse when you pair a “C” with a fast moving “D” (task-oriented extroverts).  Different styles can be perfect compliments in a work setting – but only when each person understands and respects the strengths of the other.


Unfortunately, as a result of his employment history, my friend had assumed that his personal style was “bad” and that the only solution was to learn how to behave differently. In other words, he decided he had to change his personality. 


Don’t make the same mistaken assumption.


The key to success is not to change your personality or your career; rather, it’s to understand your personal communication style.  Once you understand your own style and how others communicate, you can learn to adapt your message for different audiences.


A little about DISC: Craig Underhill and I have both had training in the DISC assessment tools (Craig has become something of a Jedi in this area, while I am but a novice). DISC is one of a number of tools designed to give people insights into their own behaviors and the behaviors and styles of others. The results of these assessments can have a powerful impact on improving individual and team results, particularly in cases where there is external stress.  For more information on DISC assessments and profiles, click here.


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