I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you start each new day with determination, focus, and good intentions. While we cannot control all of the day’s events, we certainly can’t control the behavior of others. Have you ever met someone for the first time and instantly felt a positive connection with them? I have, and it feels good! But have you ever met someone for the first time and just felt uncomfortable with them? You can’t put your finger on it, but something just doesn’t feel right, you can never see eye-to-eye, and your interactions are always strained.
“The secret to success is to understand the point of view of others.” – Henry Ford
Take a moment and think of a person that you encounter at work or in your community, whether it be your neighbor, a member of your board, your community association property manager or a contracted business partner. Why is it that we can successfully work with someone and have a clear, easy open line of communication with them, while with others we just run into the proverbial brick wall? How can you break down that wall to successfully interact and more effectively communicate with others?
Open the Line of Communication
Published in the March 2017 edition of Quorum Magazine was the essay submitted by the secretary of the board of directors at Fox Chase at Exeter. As a result of that essay, Fox Chase at Exeter was named Communicator of the Year in the WMCCAI Community Association of the Year Contest. Fox Chase attributes their success to open lines of communication with their residents, via their website, posting timely notices, and a strong social media influence. Clearly, Fox Chase has implemented a very successful approach to making connections, but let’s place focus on the human, face-to-face interaction and successful communication strategies. When we introduce the human element into the scenario, we inadvertently expose ourselves to dealing with a variety of behaviors, personalities, and communication styles and our goal is to be successful during those interactions.
The History of Personality
Although personality types have been researched and studied throughout history and continue today, in the early 1920’s psychologist William Moulton Marston created what is known as the DISC model for emotions and behavior. Being aware of someone’s personality type will assist you in predicting how they might respond to you and also offer you a glimpse into how you can successfully interact with them. The acronym DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Supportive and Compliant.
Important to Note: There is no right or wrong personality. One personality type is not better or inferior to the other. Additionally, personalities can ebb and flow depending on circumstances or situations. For example, your personality with your children can be far different than the person you present in the workplace.
Take a moment and think of your responses to the following questions: • What behavior do I present in my workplace and how do I tend to communicate with my co-workers?
- What is my behavior at home, with my loved ones, how are my interactions with them?
- What personality do I present in a casual, social setting and what is my communication style in a more relaxed environment?
These are three simple questions that can have three completely different answers.
The DISC Concept
The key to effectively communicating with differing personalities is to understand the foundation upon which these behaviors and communication styles are built. We do this by learning the four personality types and how they influence one’s behavior, how we can work with them and respond to them with more positive outcomes and greater success.
D – Dominant: The Dominant personality is typically a leader or positions themselves as a decision maker. Think about your board president, a committee director, the executive director of your CAI Chapter, or your property manager. The Dominant personality looks at the bottom line and will give you straight talk. These are “can do” people, they get the job done!
I – Influencer: The Influencer is more comfortable in social settings, more of a people person. Influencers will introduce you to others they think you will connect well with or together may create a profitable business relationship. Influencers are social butterflies, think about your membership committee, volunteers, or the director of business development for your company—these are likely Influencers.
S – Supportive: A Supportive personality is steady, they are easy going and don’t like to make waves. You can count on the Supportive personality because they are stable, a team player, and will support you in a decision-making process. Your committee members, homeowner volunteers, anyone who fills a helpful role in your organization, and those who “play well with others” are Supportive.
C – Compliant: In your community association law firm you may find the attorney who assists in writing or reviewing governing documents, lessee agreements, or vendor contracts most likely exhibits this personality style. The Compliant personality plays by the rules, they are steady and systematic in their actions and reactions and want to “do it right the first time,” correctly and with accuracy. Quick question: if the compliant attorney practices contract law, what personality type would you think applies to the litigator?
The Clash of Personalities
Although we find the nuances of these personalities good qualities, you may run into some difficulty when dealing with them. Keeping in mind the attributes of the personality types, supplement your toolbox with the following new tools to assist you in communicating more effectively when dealing with them.
- The Dominant can be perceived as arrogant and come across abrasive. Have you heard the saying among managers “Don’t bring me problems— bring me solutions!” Whether you agree with this approach or not, Dominants do not like to be questioned, BUT if you come to them with an issue and an option for a positive result, they will be more receptive to you. You will want to build a level of respect with the dominant, be systematic and to the point in your interaction with them.
- Influencers can be somewhat scattered, have difficulty maintaining focus and have a short attention span. Influencers may seem chatty to you, so if you don’t have the patience for the “chatty Kathy” influencer, keep your conversation focused and to the point. Influencers like to be liked—so don’t be afraid to be friendly with them, compliment them and allow them to tell you how nice and wonderful everyone is.
- While Supportive personalities will back you up you may find it challenging to get their personal view on an issue because they don’t want to rock the boat – they support you, remember? And while dominants are “go-getters” the supportive may be slow to get out of the gate, so go easy with them. If you have a project that has a deadline, give the supportive reasonable benchmarks to achieve while not making them feel rushed. As they accomplish goals, the supportive personality will be very receptive when you acknowledge their achievement(s).
- You can rely on the Compliant to do things the right way but be cautious as they may be too much of a perfectionist and can be highly critical. The compliant personality is factual and methodical so in your engagement with them do the same, be logical, thoughtful, organized, and fact-based in your interaction.
By the way, what was your answer to the question about the litigator, Dominant perhaps?
Bringing it all Together
While there is no “one size fits all” answer for communicating with different personalities you now have new tools for a more successful interaction with someone you’ve just not been able to connect with effectively.
- You now possess a greater understanding of different personality types.
- You have the knowledge to recognize the type of personality you’re dealing with.
- You have the information needed to more effectively communicate with the variety of different personalities.
With these new tools, you have the knowledge and ability to recognize personality strengths and weaknesses, not only in yourself, but others. Take time to self-assess. Check your behavior, your communication style and consider your interactions with others. Through self-assessment and a greater understanding of others, how they deliver and receive information, you can better articulate to them the best approach to meet your needs, and you will quickly recognize the best approach for you to meet their needs.
By Jill Kalter, MBA, CP
Jill is the principal of Resolve Mediation, Inc. She is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil and Appellate Mediator specializing in dispute resolution in common interest communities. A CAMICB Provider, Jill conducts courses nationwide educating and training effective communication strategies and alternative dispute resolution. Jill sits on the board of directors for the Florida Academy of Professional Mediators; the business development board for Seacoast Bank, FL; is a volunteer guardian ad litem and member of Toastmasters International.