February 21, 2007

News & Opinion: A conversation

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 10:03 PM – Filed under: Personal Development & Human Behavior

Our crew of 13 has bi-weekly meetings where we take an hour or two of our day to talk about what's going on in our world. The goal being shared knowledge--which can only make us smarter.
In another effort to become smarter, last week we had the pleasure of being taught by Erika, author of Growing Great Employees. Yesterday's bi-weekly conversation touched on how people had used Erika's helper points. Let me back up by further explaining our day with Erika.
Beforehand, we each had to complete an anonymous assessment on our fellow crew members. As Rebecca mentioned, we were each placed into one of four categories: Amiable, Driver, Expressive, and Analytical. What is interesting about Erika's research (and that of Proteus) is it's not an evaluation of your personality or a litmus test for whether you're a good person, rather it's a social style. It's how you interact with others -- one of, if not the, most important elements to any career and, even, life.
Yes, you could say that it simplifies people too much by categorizing them into four parts. [Honestly, I would have found this a compelling argument going into the day.] But it's not that simple. What the day and the book give you, as our ChangeThis editor-on-the-loose so eloquently described during yesterday's pow-wow, is a common language.
It enables two people to understand where on the "social styles map" the other sits and ultimately, what they need to do to meet halfway. It's kind of like travelling in a foreign country. If you head off to Spain (which I'll be doing in a week!...not to rub it in) and keep speaking English, with the hopes that people will start to understand you, it just (a) frustrates you even more because they're not understanding you; (b) makes you look like an idiot; (c) makes the other person become equally frustrated and even less helpful. That's when it becomes more effective to seek out a common language -- whether it's hand signals and body language or an attempt at the foreign language. That's what understanding social styles does -- it gives you a universal set of hand signals with which you can connect.
I encourage you to check out Growing Great Employees. At the very least, it'll make you a bit more aware of the social styles of those around you. At the best, it'll give you tips for how to make for better and more effective communications. I'll qualify this recommendation by telling you that I'm an amiable so I like when people are happy and the team's on board. I hope the same for your team.
FYI: Erika's running a blog over here. I forgot to mention that yesterday.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.