The importance of adapting and connecting in the workplace
Friday, December 7th, 2018

“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are,” Anaïs Nin once wrote. One place where it is especially apparent that people hold different perspectives of the world and themselves is in the workplace.

By learning to view the world through different perspectives, and being open to adjusting our behaviour, each of us can better adapt, connect, lead others more effectively and work better in teams.

Whether you are an HR leader, manager or work within a team, here are some tips on how to better understand your colleagues and build a foundation for success.

Do some detective work

Like a detective, take the time to spot clues about others’ preferences on your team by observing their body language, verbal style, interactions, and preferred work environment.

Do they like working in quiet spaces or do they prefer to be in the centre of the action? Do they speak to process their thoughts or do they need time to prepare speaking points before presenting? The answers to questions such as these can help you find ways to adapt and connect to their style, when needed.

Learning and development solutions that examine an individual’s preferences based on psychologist Carl Jung’s 3 main attitudinal functions (introversion/extraversion, thinking/feeling, sensation/intuition), like Insights Discovery, can be helpful in understanding your own disposition as well as those of others you work with.

Communicate in a way that others prefer

When people who lead with different personality types clash, it’s often because they are communicating in their preferred style, rather than the other person’s preferred style. In these cases, small stylistic differences can quickly become large communication challenges.

While it’s important to know and show who you are in an authentic manner, sometimes it’s worth adapting your style to those around you to achieve better outcomes. Adapting allows you to still be yourself but to also meet the other person where they are.

When you communicate with a person in alignment with their interpersonal preferences, you create more of an opportunity for your intentions to align with the results and decrease the chance for confusion.

Understand that people are dynamic

At Insights we talk about our understanding of ourselves through the use of a colour language that provides a non-judgemental way for team to talk about their interpersonal preferences.

The colour-wheel model enables individuals, teams and leaders to discuss their personalities in a way that doesn’t stereotype, but rather shows that everyone is a unique combination of interpersonal preferences and that we all have the presence of all four colour energies – Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green and Cool Blue.

Just as we all are dynamic and ever-changing individuals, our personalities are multi-faceted. There are naturally some things that come easily to us and other things that take more effort. Being aware of those things immediately helps us to be better prepared to adapt and to accept that others face similar challenges.

Be willing to adapt

To build a truly integrated team, we all must make an effort to understand each member of our team individually and stretch our preferences where our applicable – keeping in mind that what works for one person is not what works for everyone.

After observing and making note of your teammates’ preferences, think about how you can adapt and connect with each of them in a more effective way.

For example, if you have a colleague with a thirst for detail, how might you be able to provide them with data before they have to ask for it? If you sit next to someone who loves being social, how might you ask about their family and what they did over the weekend?

It much easier to adapt your approach once you know how different people prefer to work. What do your leadership preferences push you to do in certain situations, and how can you catch that to be more agile and adapt when you need to, to get the best outcome?

Put it all together

Working together effectively isn’t about making others change who they are or changing who you are. Instead, it’s about each of us recognising our own interpersonal preferences, realising that not everyone shares them, and staying curious about you can learn more about yourself and others to get better results.

By reflecting on your own beliefs, needs, and motivations, you can better realise your strengths and weaknesses. The more you exercise your ability to articulate these and the more are open to understanding other people’s preferences, the more you’ll move from a place of judgement to a place of connection and acceptance. You’ll be well on your way to valuing and integrating what others bring to the table.

So what is the one thing you need to do, to shift your behavioural preferences up a gear in your next email, conversation or meeting?

This piece was originally published on HR News

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