“Don’t be that guy!”
We’ve all said it before – perhaps even at the office water cooler – when talking about the clueless boorishness of some scandal-plagued celebrity of the day, or maybe someone closer to home, like Lloyd in marketing.
And sometimes, we get that haunting feeling that maybe, just maybe, we are “that guy” in some people’s eyes.
How do I come across to my teammates? Our clients or customers? Our third-party vendors? This are all probably questions you’ve asked yourself at least once.
Now, suppose we found out the cold, hard truth. Is there any way we can use that knowledge to improve our work relationships? Can we profit from a clearer understanding of how our colleagues see us?
PI Midlantic senior consultant Melanie Wood would answer, “Yes.” Her firm coaches business leaders on how to more effectively leverage their human resources by using, among other tools, the “Predictive Index,” which the company describes as “an objective assessment based on certain fundamental assumptions of behavioral psychology.”
Recalling the dismay of a client of hers who – having taken the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment – realized that she may be coming across to coworkers in a negative light, Wood explained in a March 22 article that, in fact, “[f]inding ways to tap into the way you are truly perceived by others can be an invaluable growth opportunity[,] not to mention a powerful engagement tactic when you involve your team.”
To make the most of this growth opportunity, you should “start by honestly assessing yourself,” Wood advises:
“How do you deliver messages? Can you be abrupt and direct? Are you overly verbose? Do you provide clarity, or are you vague, expecting others to fill in the blanks? Do you talk with your team or at your team? Do you criticize/point out issues privately or publicly? Do you acknowledge the good things your team members do, even if it is well within the scope of what is expected? If you do acknowledge them, is it via email or face-to-face?”
How Do You and Your Colleagues Differ From One Another?
Secondly, you should “[assess] the differences between you and your team members and colleagues.”
“We’re so comfortable with who we are we have no concept of how we come across to others,” Wood explains in a phone conversation, noting, for example, how misunderstandings can crop up in a work environment where a manager or team member who is naturally blunt communicates with a more indirect or diplomatic individual.
“Empathetic team members want to collaborate, not to be told [what to do],” Wood says.
These team members don’t want to be seen as “pawn[s] in the game,” but rather as players on the same team.
At the same time, more direct, task-oriented personalities usually see bluntness as a sign of respect for the other person’s valuable time as a fellow team member.
The key is in adjusting your approach in a way that respects your differences.
“Don’t change who you are, just change the way you talk to your colleagues to have a more successful workplace environment,” Wood says.
Thirdly, Wood counsels that you must “[g]ather insight and perspectives from peers and team members”:
“Reach out to team members and/or friends and family and have an honest conversation about your style. Explain that your ultimate goal is to more thoroughly understand how your style is perceived and ways in which you can develop as a person and team member. Do not rely only on those with whom you connect or whom you know well. Sometimes, those people we do not fully understand can provide the most perspective.”
You shouldn’t expect everyone to think or communicate like you, nor should you stifle your personality or your natural approach to problem solving.
Assess, Assess, Assess
It’s all about respect, honest communication, and ongoing evaluation, which leads to Wood’s fourth and final point: You really need to take “a month or so” to continually assess how you’re doing before gathering together your team to reassess your progress.
While the Predictive Index’s categories can be particularly helpful, Wood’s advice is invaluable regardless. Personality dynamics in any office environment will have a tremendous impact on corporate culture, productivity, and ultimately, your brand’s perception. The sooner you break the ice and dive into the differences in how you and your colleagues communicate, the sooner you can appreciate and be effective alongside them.
Clayton Ramsey is client service manager at PI Midlantic.