Have you taken my communication style inventory yet? It’s light and playful, yet it’s informative. And, personally, I think I created an inventory that does what these things are intended to do. Once you learn your preferred style, it tells you what your strengths are, what PowerPhrases you could use more, and what Poison Phrases you likely need to watch out for. It shows you how to leverage who you are, but also how to balance who you are so others aren’t expected to pick up the pieces for you. It then refers you to my PowerPhrases! book so you can learn more about communicating with other styles.
Too many people use style quizzes to justify bad behavior and limitations. Sure, it’s good to know you like to get your ducks in a row before you speak, but that doesn’t mean you never need to collaborate. Sure, it’s wonderful that you’re such a visionary. That doesn’t justify setting people up for failure by creating new initiatives no one can implement. And don’t withhold your honest observations and justify it as a style thing.
Penny and Mary were discussing the possibility of working on a project together. Mary was having a tough time figuring how to structure it because Penny’s communication was so guarded that Mary had little idea of who Penny was, what Penny’s strengths were and how it might best work to collaborate. She figured they’d find their connection at the longer meeting they had planned. Imagine her shock when Penny decided to bail before that meeting because she needed more structure! This was the first Mary had heard about Penny having any problem with the dialog at all.
Penny called it a style difference. Ironically, people who knew them both thought they had the same style. The real problem seemed to be that Penny wasn’t saying what she meant and meaning what she said without being mean when she said it. She kept her concerns private until she snapped and pulled the plug. Mary felt blindsided.
And Mary agreed it wasn’t a match, not because their styles were different. With good communication, styles can be bridged. But because Penny chose to keep information from Mary that she needed to relate effectively.
How about you? Do you justify your limits and hide bad behavior behind a style category? Or do you use that information to tap into your strengths and help you understand where your style might be a challenge for others so you can find a way to relate that works for everyone?