Clashing With a Co-Worker? Consider Personal Style Differences

image.axdIf you wonder why you don’t see eye to eye with certain co-workers, it could be because your style preferences are different. One person who communicates with a fast, direct style may be intimidating to another person who needs reflective time to process information. You may think the other person is “odd” when in reality you just have different styles.

One of the best investments you can make in yourself as a professional is to take a personal style assessment (or several). You will gain valuable insights about your own style and the styles of people you work with.

Some companies use assessments during the hiring process or prior to training programs. From a human resource perspective, assessments help to determine if you are a right “fit” for a specific position, based on the job’s criteria. Assessments can also provide a glimpse at an employee’s skill level as a team player or leader. As a coach, I often use assessments to help me understand my clients as we enter the coaching relationship.

Even if you have to pay for an assessment yourself, which usually costs less than $100 per assessment, the results will allow you to gain clarity about yourself as a person, worker, team member and leader. It will also help you to identify behavioral styles and suggest ways for you to interact with and work along side people whose styles may be different from yours.

Personal/social style assessments have been available for more than half a century. Once you understand your personal style and behavior, you can learn to modify your behavior in work/life situations. The end result: You will learn how to position yourself as a professional more effectively.

Some of the most common assessments used in the American workplace include:

Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, the MBTI is based on the ideas of Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, which identifies 16 distinct personality differences and preferences.

DISC Profile Analysis. A behavioral model developed by John Geier and others based on the work of psychologist William Moulton Marston and behaviorist Walter V. Clarke and others, the profile measures four distinct characteristics, Dominance (how you respond to problems/challenges), Influence (how you influence others to your point of view), Steadiness (how you respond to the pace of the environment), and Compliance (how you respond to rules and procedures set by others).

Clifton StrengthsFinder Profile. The Gallup Press offers two popular tools, Clifton StrengthsFinder Profile, from the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. and StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The tools focus on 34 dominant themes that help participants identify their talents and how they can build a successful life and career.

Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). Developed by Ned Herrmann, the HBDI assesses thinking preferences, identifying four specific modes of thinking: Analytical, sequential, interpersonal, and imaginative. His concept, Whole Brain® Thinking, helps individuals understand how to be flexible in using the four styles of thinking within organizations and in individual relationships.

Social Style® Model. Dr. David Merrill and Roger Reid developed the Social Style® Profile in the 1960s, which determines social/behavioral style and is helpful for people who work in team environments. The model identifies four types: Analytical (thinking oriented), Driver (action oriented), Amiable (relationship oriented) and Expressive (intuition oriented).

Emotional Intelligence and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI). Co-created by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Hay Group, Inc., the ESCI measures self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

True Colors. Based upon the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, and refined by David Keirsey, the True Colors assessment allows you to explore 24 aspects of your personality. Each unique style is color coded, representing psychological and physiological needs.

The Enneagram. Using nine patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting, the Enneagram reveals information about your whole self and what motivates you.

360-Degree Feedback. This assessment tool uses the perspective of others as a way to subjectively describe your style, using descriptive words. It compares the description that you choose with the descriptions that others choose, to indicate any gaps between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you.

These are just a few of the most common assessments used in the workplace. For a complete listing and evaluation of assessments, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) offers an overview of the many assessment tools the Center offers.

If you find yourself asking the question, “Who am I?,” then make an investment in yourself, or ask your HR professional about assessments that your company offers. Assessments help to paint a picture of who you are and can offer you insights into your style and its impact on others.

How Outstanding Are You?

runner-728219_960_720Some of the inspiration for my writing comes from my 95-year-old mother, Irene. She recently shared an anecdote with me that provided me with yet another topic.

At her age, as you can imagine, she has a full schedule of appointments with physicians and specialists who monitor her health. One is her podiatrist. She began describing to me one of his greatest natural traits, a full head of healthy, thick, pure white hair. She said to me, “His hair is outstanding!

She went on to describe a recent appointment with him. As she looked at him, she realized that something was different. More important, something was missing. He had dyed his hair brown! “He looked so ordinary,” she said. “That special trait of his was gone. He just looked like every other man. He wasn’t outstanding anymore!” My mom didn’t mince words. She told her doctor exactly how she felt about his new hair color. She didn’t like it. She preferred his beautiful natural color instead. Her podiatrist quickly replied that his wife shared my mom’s thoughts. Of course, my mom will have to wait until her next appointment to see if her podiatrist heeded her advice.

It was the way that my mom said the word outstanding, with such strong emphasis and conviction, that got me thinking about how we may downplay, hide, or even undervalue our own outstanding attributes.

What is it about you that is outstanding? Is it a specific physical characteristic? Is it your personality? Your talents or skills? Your energy? What gives you great pride in saying, “I am outstanding in…”?

Are you hiding some of your greatest attributes? Changing them so people won’t notice?

Here are two quick things you can do:

Internal assessment: Take time to assess your greatest qualities. What words fill in that last blank…”I am outstanding in…”? Once you have completed the assessment, then ask, “How do I show these greatest strengths and qualities to other people?”

External assessment: What qualities of yours do people most often compliment? Pay attention to the words people use to describe you to other people. You may be missing something important. If you are comfortable with it, ask a close friend or confidante what is outstanding about you. That person may be able to open your eyes to positive attributes that you are unable to see.

Often, one outstanding characteristic or trait can draw others in to you. No one else has what you have! Celebrate whatever it is about you that is outstanding because it is unique to you.


How to Build Your Fan Base, Adele Style

Singer/songwriter and Grammy Award winner Adele returned to the stage at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall to perform in front of a live audience after nearly a three-year hiatus. (The pre-recorded event aired on NBC on December 14). The moment the curtain rose, adoring fans cheered her return. Decked out from head to toe in a sparkly full-length gown and crowned with a stunning retro up do, Adele didn’t disappoint. She started her first song, Hello, slowly, softly, then rising to her signature high notes with abandon.

When she finished the first song, something refreshing happened: She made a goofy face, one that fully described what she was feeling emotionally (“Thank God I made it through that first song!”). It was genuine and spontaneous. The audience loved her honesty.

It got me thinking. Could you stand in front of your peers if you had been out of the picture for almost three years? Pick up right where you left off? Never miss a beat? She was nervous, to be sure, as she performed in front of 6,000 fans in person and millions of television viewers. She pushed through each perfectly performed song.

You may not think often enough about who is on your side, your advocates and supporters, allies and angels…people who love you, adore you, want to see you succeed, stand on the sidelines and cheer for you when you need it the most. Your fan base is right there, today, in front of you, all around you. Take a moment to see who those people are and be grateful.

Watching and listening to Adele’s performance drove home an important message for all professionals: You can build your fan base too. Here are some lessons I learned from Adele:

Be authentic. Adele is real. When she sings, you can feel her emotional connection to the song. She doesn’t just sing the lyrics; she feels her lived experiences.

Create a compelling style. Adele doesn’t make excuses for her style. She embraces it. She loves who she is. Retro style suits her to a tee.

Be honest. Adele told the audience how nervous she was, how her life has changed since she recorded specific songs filled with longing and pain. She kicked off her shoes when her feet hurt. The NBC network even had to bleep her a few times. The audience appreciated her openness.

Deliver. Clearly, Adele delivers her best to the audience. She doesn’t just show up, sing a few songs and go home. She puts her entire being into her work. Fans can tell the difference.

Grow! Fans have watched Adele grow as an artist and mature into adulthood right before their eyes. She came into the music scene in her late teens; she is now 27. She reminds you that true success requires growth and positive change along the way.

Appreciate your fans. “Thank you,” “I love you” were repeated throughout her performance with humility and appreciation. How often do you let your advocates, supporters, allies and angels know how much you appreciate, value and respect them? How do you treat them? How will you stay connected to your fan base?

Whether you like Adele’s music or not, you must admire her genuine love for her fans. She consistently delivers high energy performances and quality albums to her fan base. You can learn a lot by watching her in action.

Note: Adele broke all U.S. album sales records the first week of the release of her latest album “25″ in November, according to Billboard Magazine.

Stand Out or Blend In

imagesDonning a vintage 1960s wide-brimmed black straw hat, I escorted my 94-year-old Mother to Easter Sunday mass. On the way into the church, a woman grabbed my arm and said, “I just have to tell you that I love your hat!” I thanked her and told her how I wished more women wore hats. As I walked further into the church and sat down, my husband noticed that no other women were wearing hats. Shortly after that, my older sister (who also was wearing a hat) and her husband arrived.

One of the fondest memories I hold dear about my Dad was a simple tradition that he started on the highway. As he would approach a state line, he would tip his hat as he drove past the “Welcome to…” sign. To this day, whenever I pass a state line sign, I think of him and smile. To me, my Dad’s small act symbolized his gratitude for everything that allowed him to get that far on the journey…a well-running car, a full tank of gas, good weather conditions and of course cooperative children in the back seat!

As I turned to shake the hands of the people around me during the “sign of peace” at church, I smiled at the woman directly behind me who was also wearing a hat. Something amazing happened. For a moment, we exuberantly embraced our tiny “community” of hats in the congregation. Now it was three of us who were the only women wearing hats in the entire church.

It got me thinking. One simple act – wearing a hat – got people’s attention, turned heads and created a buzz. What are you doing to stand out? To position yourself differently from others? Sometimes it takes just one thing to set you apart from everyone else.

If you are feeling bold and daring and want to learn more about the fine art of hat wearing, read the online British magazine, The Hat Magazine. If you want to see some spectacular hats, visit the Hat Center, a group of hat manufacturers in Florence, Italy. Bellissima!

How Do People Introduce You?

WordBalloonsWhen was the last time you listened – really listened – to the way people introduce you to others? If you haven’t, then it’s time for you to pay attention. When you see yourself through other people’s eyes, you just may discover something new.

What words to people use to describe you? How do they differentiate you from other persons? Part of my signature style is my favorite perfume, Tea Rose, a light floral fragrance that smells like – you guessed it – fresh roses. Imagine my surprise when one of my colleagues introduced me to a friend of hers by saying, “Christine always smells like flowers.” In truth, if I had to smell like something, a flower is it.

Listen for the word always. People will usually say something like, “Carol is always entertaining us with her hilarious stories” or “Bob is always the life of the party” or “John is always traveling to such interesting places” or “Pat is always reading such interesting books.” There are things about you that even you may not see or hear. Listen to the words that people use to describe you and rediscover your unique personal style.

Define Your Personal Style

What makes you unique or distinctive? Every person has his or her own personal style that cannot be duplicated by anyone else. How are you defining your style? Here are a few ideas:

Hone your interpersonal skills. Look at how you contact, thank, remember or follow up with people. What do you do that sets you apart from others?

Keep in touch…for no reason at all. One of our longtime friends, Richard, has amused and touched us over the years with his thoughtful and often unexpected handwritten notes, cards and telephone calls. It is so endearing because he consistently keeps in touch.

Acquire an interesting hobby. If you are a manager during the day, you could become someone quite different in the evening or on the weekends. Are you a ballroom dancer? Do you compete in marathons? Have your prized perennials won awards at the County Fair? Who are you besides the person who comes to work every day? That’s what makes you unique.

Thank someone in a creative way. Imagine my surprise when I received a hand-written thank you note with a small enclosure – an herbal tea bag. It came from a colleague I met online. We had both submitted productivity tips to an online publication. She sent an email asking for more details and examples. I quickly replied. A few days later, her thank you note arrived in my mailbox. That small gesture captured her style: Thoughtful. Sincere. Unique. Creative. And of course…memorable.

Remember: Everything you do positions you. How does your personal style position you?