Flexing style…taking the decision to adapt…
Emotionally Intelligent behaviour has been spoken about for years; it’s one of my favourite paradigms for ‘getting on in life’. Daniel Goleman’s work on this subject pretty much proves what many of us believe; that in order to connect with others, you need to understand yourself first and then the impact you have on those around you. Once you have figured out what’s going on for them…you can then make a choice about how you are going to interact, the premise being that your ability to connect with those around you counts far more than your ability to be ‘smarter’ than them (the IQ vs EQ argument).
Do opposites attract?
No new news there then (I hear you think!). There are so many tools in the ‘business environment’ that help us do this…tools that are not designed to make us experts in this field, but are designed to help us make choices about how we connect with people around us. Isn’t it interesting that whilst many of the closest relationships in our personal lives come from the power of ‘opposites attract’, in the workplace, more often than not, ‘people like people like themselves’?! This gives us a challenge…whilst at work, it may be easier to connect with those that we see as ‘similar’ to us…the reality is, that our best work is often produced when we are able to embrace the variety of thinking and perspectives from our colleagues who operate in very different ways to us. This is where the tools come in. You may well have your favourite – they all have their merits, and unique slant on this challenge. Most are based on psychological paradigms – all can be really helpful in providing a framework in which the person (and expert alike) can operate.
What is the point?
But here’s the thing… what is the point? The POINT is…it’s what you DO with the understanding that counts. You need to understand how to FLEX your approach to those around you, so that others are able to feel comfortable. They can then perform as their ‘best selves’, because they see ‘similarity’ in the way you work. Remember… ‘people like people like themselves’. If you are adept at this, rapport builds, genuine connection emerges, and the magic happens!
‘Human engineering’ is not black and white
Having worked in this field for over 25 years and experienced thousands ‘seeing the light’…I am often struck about how simple this can actually be (remembering, we are not trying make experts of others…just providing a framework). But, because we are dealing with ‘human engineering’, not a black and white, binary model, people are often reticent to ‘have a go’, because that change in behaviour feels unnatural. So, for those of you who can empathise with this…here are a few thoughts to leave you with.
“What if I get it wrong?”
- (I hear this frequently). Look…before you had this ‘new information’, you probably didn’t give this whole ‘flex’ thing a thought. Now, you have a new view of the world…experiment! If you notice that the other person is quieter and more reserved than you, try dropping your tempo and being calmer. If you notice they are detail-orientated, stop talking in headlines…they probably need more information to feel comfortable around you. The message here is ‘have a go’….and notice the impact you are having. Adjust, and play around with it…it will make a difference, and is unlikely to be worse than it is right now.
“…but the other person won’t flex to me”
- This is another challenge I often hear. Remember, others may not have that same awareness as you…they may not know about ‘this stuff’…and if they do, may not feel comfortable ‘flexing’. Think about what happens when you get this right…even if the other person does not consciously engage with it. If you get it right, you will start to build that rapport I mentioned earlier in this article…true rapport operates at an unconscious level. This means that because the other person will start to feel more comfortable around you, that connection will develop, and you will work better together. It doesn’t matter who flexes consciously…the outcome of connection is the important thing. If they do flex…that’s even better, because you will find a comfortable ‘place’ from which to conduct your relationship, demonstrating mutual empathy and respect for one another.
Humans are individual
- Finally…remember, humans are individuals, and whilst behavioural models help us decode our relationships, an individual is an individual, not a number, series of letters, colour, animal, or any other the other clever ways people have dreamt up to label us. Be REALLY CAREFUL how you describe someone once you think you have identified ‘what they are’. Environment, stress, health, attitude, experience – all of these will influence how that person ‘shows up’. Whilst their ‘natural style’ is likely to be their most comfortable place from which to operate, people are a complex combination of a multitude of elements…never assume, always be vigilant and stay agile and flexible yourself.
The ‘EI’ paradigm is fascinating, and game-changing in your relationships when you get it right. Working together to create highly effective teams is something we are passionate about at Expression for Growth – Terrific Teams
Always think about how you are impacting those around you…make some choices about how you might adjust that if it’s not working – go on…experiment, and see what happens.
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