Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Skill-set for Understanding People

I was lucky enough many years ago—okay it was the mid-nineties—to have been exposed to a methodology for quickly analyzing people by observing some of their most obvious personality characteristics. It isn’t a perfect system, but it’s very helpful, especially when time is of the essence as it often is in business relationships.
These observations can assist you in classifying people into a framework of “social types” and will help in understanding where they are coming from and how to more effectively interact with them. A good reference is "Knowing About Social Styles," by Merrill and Reid. The descriptions below are meant to be representative and typical rather than absolute.
The Four Personality Types

The Driver: Drivers are action and goal oriented and need to see results quickly. They are very disciplined, decisive, practical and efficient. They employ facts and data to make their points and are quick to speak as well as act. In conversations they will lean forward, point, and make direct eye contact, displaying contrived facial expressions and rigid body posture. They don’t waste time on preliminaries or personal exchanges and are perceived as dominating, harsh, and severe in pursuit of goals. Comfortable in positions of power and control, their offices are arranged in businesslike fashion with certificates and commendations hanging on the walls. In times of stress, drivers can become autocratic. They drive bronze or silver cars.

The Analytical: Analyticals are over organized and want to have the facts before taking action. They need to be accurate, right, precise, orderly, and methodical. They conform to organizational procedures and rules. They work more slowly and carefully than drivers and are perceived as industrious, persistent perfectionists. When talking, they speak slowly and gesture with their hands. Seldom will they make direct eye contact, and they tend to control their facial expressions. They are seen as stuffy, indecisive, critical, hard to please and didactic. They relish being in positions where they can check facts and figures to ensure they are right. Their offices are neat, well-organized and often drab. In times of stress, analyticals avoid conflict. They drive white or black cars.

The Expressive: Expressives enjoy interpersonal action and excitement. They are socially stimulating and enthusiastic. They are idea centered and effective in involving and motivating others. Having little concern for routine, they are future oriented. Their response to stimuli is often more extreme than necessary. They are friendly, want to be accepted, and will focus on people instead of tasks. They use opinions, hearsay, and stories rather than facts and data. In conversations, they are relaxed and lean forward, speak quickly, vary their vocal tones, point and make random eye contact. The way they are feeling is written across their faces, and others perceive them as emotional, rash, willful, dramatic, manipulative, ambitious and egotistical. Their offices are highly disorganized. In stressful situations, expressives are inclined to resort to personal attack. They will talk about anything that comes into their heads without a care as to whether anyone is interested. They drive red or yellow cars.

The Amiable: Amiables strive for co-operation, personal security and recognition. They will avoid conflict at all costs. Valuing personal relationships, they enjoy helping others and want to be liked. They will sacrifice their own objectives to gain the approval of others. They prefer to work as part of a team, rather than by themselves, and they are unhurried in reaction to stimuli and have little concern for effecting change. They are people oriented, always friendly, respectful, willing and dependable. Like expressives, they rely on opinions and hearsay rather than facts and data. In conversations they speak softly and methodically, using vocal inflection more than drivers or analyticals, and their posture is casual, their expression animated. They lean back while talking and seldom make eye contact. They are perceived by others as conforming, hesitant, malleable, dependent and ill at ease. Their offices are homely with family photographs, plants etc. An amiable's reaction to stress is to conform to the will of others. They drive green, off-white, brown or green cars.

Most people have dominance in two of the social types, and they may show minor influences of one or both of the other two. It is helpful to give a person a grade based on a scale of one to ten for each of the types to get a more complete handle on the whole personality, e.g. Driver—6; Analytical—7; Expressive—2; Amiable—5. That’s me.

Remember, this is just a technique to help you better adjust to who you are dealing with. It can help you paint an advance picture of what to expect, e.g. as a potential friend, employee or employer. An observation of interest is, in general, analyticals don’t get along well with amiables, and drivers don’t like dealing with expressives. Analyticals and drivers are typically okay together as are expressives and amiables.

For those interested in fiction thrillers, the status of coming adventure-thrillers and other books under construction can be found on my website: www.marshallchamberlain.com.

Best Wishes,

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