Monthly Archives: January 2014

Practice Flexing Your Communication Style

How flexible are you . . . really?  It’s easy to get along with people who think and act the way we do but about 75% of people behave quite differently than us.  The ability to positively relate to different people styles is critical to your career success especially the higher you go in your company.  Because people problems are so prevalent in the workplace, you have the opportunity to establish a reputation that is highly valued – you can get along with people.  You take the initiative to make it easier for others to connect, communicate and cooperate with you.  And you do it by practicing flexing your own personality style.  Here’s how to start . . .

  • First, practice the “basic flex” which is treating others the way we all want to be treated – with kindness and respect.  This is basic to all personal interactions and essential for communicating with anyone.
  • Second, practice “style flex” which is adjusting your own behavior style to create a rapport and to open up communication with another person.  This requires you to know your own style well and to be willing to temporarily flex it to make the interaction more comfortable for the other person. The ability to do this consistently requires a high degree of self-awareness and empathy –  key social & emotional intelligence competencies.

Now, I can hear you protesting a bit . . . “why should I have to be the one who changes?” I would suggest that it is simply easier.  We all know that we really can’t change other people significantly and we just get frustrated and angry waiting for them to change on their own.  But with some agility on our part and an authentic willingness to work with others, we can and will bring great value to our employers and to our own professional well-being as well.  Try it!

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People Styles at Work . . . and Beyond

People Styles at Work . . . and Beyond, 2nd Edition, 2009, by Robert Bolton & Dorothy Grover Bolton, AMACOM American Management Association, New York, New York.

I always find books on differences in personality styles fascinating and this one is no exception. The Bolton authors have developed a simple but powerful four quadrant model to help us identify our own behavioral styles both in our daily work and personal lives. There is a great chapter in how to “flex” our styles while still being true to ourselves but also engaging the best of others. And we can’t forget that this is what brings enduring value to our employers – being able to authentically connect, communicate and collaborate with others. It’s a great book for all of us!


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