"200 feet above Tahoe"
If you listened to a person who spoke Chinese talk to a person who spoke German, and both continued talking knowing the other person had no idea what was being said, you would surely know this conversation is going nowhere. This is happening today with people who speak the same language.
Our digital world has blessed society with tremendous benefits and advantages, but as the pendulum of communication has shifted towards text messages and using emojis to communicate visually and instantly, our in-person communication skills have suffered.
You may think a cloud resembles a penguin, while someone standing next to you compares the same cloud to a tree. Our eyes may see the same things, but we don’t see the same things emotionally. This also happens when we physically talk to each other. What you say is not always what someone hears.
Police have reported difficulty reading statements because people are starting to write like they type in text, making the facts hard to decipher.
As person-to-person communication suffers, what would it be worth to have the ability to know how a person is going to respond to what you say, BEFORE you say it? This would be similar to knowing what a stock was going to do before you invest. While I can’t help you with stocks, I can say that whether you’re running a business or talking to a neighbor, learning how to identify a person’s dominant “social style” is the key to favorable conversation.
There are a countless amount of books, seminars, videos and classes on the subject. Most start out explaining how there are four basic social styles, and one is dominant in a person’s behavior. There are traces of a strong second, occasionally a slight third, but rarely would someone display all four. What you don’t hear is how to quickly identify a person’s dominant social style so you know how to proceed.
People get side-tracked with this topic by wondering what their social style is. Like the Chinese and German conversation- it doesn’t matter what YOURS is, THEIRS is what matters.
A person with an analytical social style does not relate to an an expressive person jumping up and down excited about a topic. It doesn’t mean they don’t like each other, it only means they don’t relate to each other. But if the boss doesn’t relate to you at a job interview, you may not get the job regardless of your experience or skills.
The expressive uses their body to communicate, while the analytical needs facts to understand something. It’s not that someone doesn’t approve of you jumping or waving your arms all around, it’s that they don’t understand the language you’re speaking. An analytical person prefers a conversation with details and specific information that adds facts and validity to what you’re saying.
If person “A” in this example knew person “B” had an analytical character, and used detailed verbiage in their presentation, the odds of relating to each other would escalate. Again, the ability to quickly identify a person’s social style is key.
I’ve brought this up many times to an audience and witnessed the same results every time; people pause attempting to identify their own social style. That’s normal, but for this goal, it’s as useless as wondering what language you speak while approaching a person who speaks Chinese.
There are four languages, and you speak all four. Find out which one they speak, and speak it:
I was driving through Lake Tahoe and saw a ski hill with sleds coming down. I had never been on a sled, but it looked fun, so I hiked to the top and found people lined up to go down the hill. What I didn’t know till I got to the top was I had a front row seat to an example of identifying social styles that would last the rest of my life.
When you find yourself being in a position of wanting to quickly identify a person’s social style so you can have a productive conversation, imagine yourself being with me at the top of that hill. Not to sled, but to observe the behavior of people when it’s their turn to sled down the hill. Remember this is not about you; it’s about identifying what language THEY speak and what THEY would relate to in a conversation.
In this scenario, imagine the person you want to relate to being on a sled next in line to go down. Down, in this case, is a two-hundred foot drop with hills and curves. People went before you, and people are in line to go next. Half way down is a crowd watching and taking pictures. At the foot of the hill some daring sledders get cheers, some get laughs, and some may need medical attention.
Here it is- What is the next person in line thinking? This tells you their social style.
The Analytical, the Driver,
the Expressive, and the Amiable
The “Analytical” calculates the distance downhill and how long it will take. They’re not displaying fear, but they take precautions and they mentally plan the trip downhill. They collect facts and details to prepare for what they’re faced with. If you show excitement or try to rush them down the hill, they may back out and not go at all. In life, this converts to them not relating to a conversation with you.
The “Driver” didn’t bother waiting for instructions about how to go down the hill. They are half way down before anyone knew they left and plan to deal with gravity as they go. They may demand things as opposed to asking for them, and this person would rather face difficulties as opposed to avoiding them. They focus on facts and prefer using the least amount of words. And though they may not refuse help, they prefer to do it alone.
They’re willing to listen to directions and advice, but they also want to be in control, and they are very assertive. The driver doesn’t need help. If a challenge arises they’ll deal with it. They often chase people away with their “direct” attitude. Most people think drivers have an advantage because they’re assertive, yet they step on toes and make people feel pressured. When trying to relate to people, this is not advantageous.
The expressive is attracted to fun things that would draw attention. They love to talk and be around other people. The expressive awaited their turn with excitement thinking about that curve in the hill where people are watching with cameras. If the expressive hits the curve just right he’ll be able to do a spin and a flip in front of the cameras. The expressive is a conversationalist and may even pass on their turn sledding so they can stay and talk a bit more.
The amiable prefers not to be assertive or demanding, and they’re not attention driven. They’re known to be reliable and trustworthy, and they love being part of a team. On the slopes, they may offer to help organize and assist other people in line, and they would show an interest in everyone reaching the bottom of the hill safely. They may pass on the ride and offer to take pictures for others. On the flip-side, they’re also known to surprise people who think of them as soft.
I’ve heard so many people complain that if they were a different social style they’d be more successful. But people of all social styles have accomplished great things. Again, this is not about what YOU are, it’s about THEM.
When a business hires someone, or when managers form a team, they often unintentionally make the mistake of choosing based on their own social style. We subconsciously choose to surround ourselves with people we relate to. While opposite social styles can bring variety to a team. A team made up of different social styles can see things from multiple perspectives, which offers more overall success.
There’s never been a benefit or disadvantage to any one social style. There’s been successful amiable, driven, expressive, and analytical US Presidents, corporate CEOs, employees, college students, inventors, philosophers, entrepreneurs, and even parents that have made history.
There’s always a way to make your personal social style advantageous, the same as how Arnold Schwarzenegger used his accent and size to his advantage when Hollywood itself claimed those same characteristics would always be a disadvantage.
The next time you’re about to engage in a conversation, consider what that person would be thinking if they were next in line on that hill. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about THEM.
Publisher, Nautical Mile