How to Create Synergy and Collaborate with People’s Differing Styles
Are there people in your office (or your life) that drive you crazy because they insist on doing things so differently than you do?
When all you want is a high-level overview, they drown you in details. Or maybe you’re the detail-oriented person who gets irritated with people who insist on going full speed ahead with what seems like a very haphazard plan (or no plan at all).
Perhaps you are an eternal optimist surrounded by devil’s advocates who seem intent on proving that your greatest ideas will never fly. Or you may be the practical realist that gets exasperated at what appears to be pie in the sky ideas that lack the scrutiny necessary to pass muster in the real world.
How do you deal with these differences? One thing’s for sure – treating others the way you’d like to be treated is a surefire recipe for frustration when one person’s preferences are another person’s irritations.
But what if there was a way to better understand people’s differing styles – and to leverage them so that instead of frustration, there was appreciation, collaboration and synergy?
Last week I presented one of my most popular workshops, Communicating with Style: The DISC Behavioral Style Workshop to an annual meeting one of my clients regularly holds for their customers. In this article, I’ll share with you the framework I presented to them that will give you a leg up on improving relationships with the most important people in your life – both at work and at home.
There are two different continuums of preferences that people’s behaviors fall on. One is task versus people orientation and the other is introversion versus extraversion.
Task versus People Orientation
If you gathered a group of people together to work on a project, some of them would be very concerned about what needs to get done, what a successful outcome would look like and how it would be measured, what action needs to be taken, and who will do what. These people have a strong task orientation.
Others would be interested in how the project impacts people and whether their interests are represented. They’d also be intent on knowing whether the makeup of the group includes people with the skills and experience necessary to successfully serve others. These folks have a strong people orientation.
It doesn’t mean task-oriented people don’t like people – they just think about the task at hand first. And it doesn’t mean that those who are people-oriented don’t care about the task – they just think first about the people who are impacted by it.
Extraversion versus Introversion
There is another continuum to consider that we can overlay onto the first one. Most people think of extraverts as those who are outgoing and introverts as those who are more shy and reserved. This is true as it relates to people.
It is a question of where the energy goes first. Extraverted people direct their energy outward to start. As it relates to people, they tend to talk more than they listen, and they often do so before they give much inward thought to what they are going to say. In the DISC Behavioral Style model, this is indicative of the I style, which stands for Influence.
Introverted people direct their energy inward first. As it relates to people, they are more inclined to listen before they talk, and they prefer to organize their thoughts within themselves before they articulate them to others. In the DISC Behavioral Style model, this is indicative of the S style, which stands for Steadiness.
Extraversion and introversion can also relate to task. When energy goes outward toward a task (extraversion), it leads people to be intensely results oriented – wanting to jump into action before they have planned or considered the environ
ment. In the DISC Behavioral Style model this is indicative of the D style, which stands for Dominance.
Introversion toward task leads people to want to plan and prepare, research, polish and perfect before taking action and/or putting something out into the world. In the DISC Behavioral Style model, this is indicative of the C style, which stands for Compliance.
The DISC Behavioral Style Model
If you have an understanding of the two continuums, you can begin to appreciate the four different styles people tend to behave with. Think of someone right now whose style you are curious about.
- Is this person more task oriented or people oriented? If she is task oriented, she is likely to be high in Dominance or Compliance. If people oriented, she is likely to be high in Influence or Steadiness.
- Is this person more introverted than extraverted? If introverted, she is likely to be high in Steadiness or Compliance. And if extraverted, she is likely to be high in Dominance or Influence.
D = Dominance (Task-oriented + Extraverted)
I = Influence (People-oriented + Extraverted)
S = Steadiness (People-oriented + Introverted)
C = Compliance (Task-oriented + Introverted)
We all have a little bit of each behavioral style within us. Most of us have more of one style than others. Some people are high in more than one of them. You can have a high level of people orientation, like me, but also be a little bit extraverted and also somewhat introverted. My style is high in Influence people-oriented and extraverted), but also very high in Steadiness (people-oriented and introverted).
How You Can Use this Understanding to Help Improve Your Effectiveness
Often people on opposite ends of any spectrum will have difficulty understanding and/or relating to each other.
As an example, task-oriented people can become irritated when others shift their focus from the task at hand and go to great lengths to ensure people feel included or are having a good experience. And people-oriented people get frustrated when it appears those who are task-oriented are leaving people out of the equation.
But each of these people needs the other. Task-oriented people need people-oriented people to ensure their solutions will meet the needs of those being served – and that they will buy into any changes that may be difficult for them. People-oriented people need task-oriented people to ensure they take the action necessary to serve the people they care about within a small enough window of time to make a true impact.
Similarly, extraverted people need introverted people to help them see what they would otherwise miss and hear what they might otherwise talk over. Introverted people need extraverted people to initiate conversations, help them come out of their shells, voice their insights, concerns and ideas and get things done.
Though people whose styles are different than our own can irritate us, when we begin to recognize that they can help us to be more effective, this appreciation leads to synergy. It unlocks talent, potential and energy in organizations that can lead to higher morale, greater productivity, higher engagement and higher profits, market share and customer growth and loyalty.
What You Can Do Right Now
Think about what style you are inclined to utilize most. Then ask yourself who you can partner with that is strong in areas you may not be to ensure that you can complement your approach in ways that are more likely to lead to a successful and sustainable outcome.
Encourage an appreciation of different styles and approaches within your organization. Call attention to people’s strengths and how they complement each other. Help them see how their unique styles allow them to do things together they would not be able to do individually. Recognize those who go out of their way to embrace and leverage their differences and show them how it is done through your own example.
If you would like to complete a DISC Behavioral Style assessment to see how you (and/or others) score in each of the four behavioral styles, contact me at Diane@DianeBolden.com or give me a call at (602) 840-3627.
And if you are interested in learning more about behavioral styles and how you can leverage them to dramatically increase your individual and organizational effectiveness, consider enrolling in my new self-study version of Communicating With Style: DISC Behavioral Style Workshop or bringing this workshop in house.