How 4 Simple Personality Types Empower Great Relationships
Learn how leveraging simple personality models delivers a shortcut to effective customer dialogue
It's exasperating, but the reality is that you can make exactly the same pitch to four different people and fail to impress three of them. However, this may be the only time you get to say, ‘It’s not me, it’s you!’
We need a way to work out what's happening!
In everyday life we like to make simple rules that give us a shortcut to the right results. The process is called called heuristics. ‘Don’t put your hand in the fire’ or ‘don’t drink bleach’ are wise examples!
Typically, we describe this as a ‘rule of thumb’.
When it comes to people, they’re not always the best way of dealing with complex situations, because they can also be the root of huge problems. Discrimination by race, sex or age are all examples where a simple ‘rule of thumb’ has had a destructive outcomes.
But every now and then, they can offer us a great platform to establish strong relationships, and fast-moving business environments provide one such case.
They also explain why a simple question might generate a flowing conversation in one business contact, and the cold shoulder in another.
Recognise the Challenge
When breaking the ice with a new contact, whether it’s a cold call, a coffee break, a conference or a business pitch, we need to be able to establish quickly how we should engage with, and respond to, customer needs.
We usually don’t get the chance to ask their colleagues or research their achievements. We need to get it right from the start.
Simple personality models can help us do that.
Create a Platform for Dialogue
Most of us are familiar with social media quizzes, particularly the ones that let us establish what Harry Potter character we are (Sirius), or what woodland animal (ferret). Occasionally someone like JK Rowling connects the two!
The interesting part is not always the characteristics we choose for ourselves, but the insight we gain into friends and colleagues from the ones that they choose.
If we know a colleague likes to think of themselves as a big cuddly bear, we know we’re going to get the best out of them by engaging and reinforcing this self-perception. A smile and a hug will be the fastest route to a firm friendship.
But whilst the same rules apply, these options are hard to come by when it comes to business.
The question we ask is: what we can learn that works in these environments and how we can apply it?
Putting Harry Potter to one side, there’s plenty of other personality models to choose from.
They include academic ones (measuring aspects such as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) and complex organisational theories (like Myers Briggs).
The problem with these is that they require considerable amounts of insight and analysis, and we can’t put them to work in an instant.
In a business environment we need something that we can use a whole lot quicker...
...and for getting on with new business contacts we found nothing better than Merrill-Wilson
The Merrill-Wilson Magic
With a simplicity so marked that it can be employed in a matter of seconds, the Merrill-Wilson test asks us to assess people on just two levels:
- Their approach to social interaction
- Their approach to tasks
The outcome can be clustered into four distinct groups:
None of these is better or worse than any other, and distinctions may not always be clear. Personally, I tend to veer between Driver and Analytical depending on how much time I have to spare!
However, this model works well in high pressure business environments, because the way in which our contacts respond to questions, the information they require and the way that they refer to their objectives and their colleagues will give us an instant snapshot into their defining personality type.
Once we know what works for them, we can invest a little bit of energy in responding to their needs in the appropriate way!
Drivers place their emphasis on shaping the outcomes by overcoming opposition to accomplish results.
Whilst these characters are dominant and quick to act, the downside can be stubbornness or arrogance that damage teamwork.
Try these ideas:
- Illustrate clear goals
- Focus on outcomes
- Have a clear execution plan
- Set timescales
- Establish action points
Analyticals place their emphasis on working conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy.
They’ll constantly ask questions and seek connections and clarifications. Whilst they can often come out with brilliantly effective solutions, they can also be accused of information paralysis or simply time-wasting.
Try these ideas:
- Research their requirements
- Establish issues
- Provide detailed case studies
- Define the benefits
- Supply statistical support
Expressives place their emphasis on delivering outcomes by inspiring and influencing others.
They are great story tellers and often over commit themselves by attempting to please people. They also are good at communicating vision, getting others excited about ideas and issues. However, they sometimes cannot be relied upon to get things done.
Try these ideas:
- Discuss case studies
- Leverage anecdotes
- Visualise opportunities
- Inspire innovation
- Illustrate outcomes
Amiables place their emphasis on team work and cooperation to achieve their goals.
They will go out of their way not to upset people. As a result, too much equivocation can often accidentally anger the people they are trying to support. They will often wait until the last minute to make decisions and will tend to go with what everyone else is doing.
Try these ideas:
- Focus on engagement
- Build trust
- Provide references
- Give them time to consider
Whilst approaches like these can work wonders…. BEWARE!
Simple personality modelling works in business because it’s fast and it gives you options.
The risk is that it may be inaccurate!
We all say things we don’t mean sometimes, or use the wrong words to express ourselves, and it sometimes means we come across differently to how we really are.
This applies to your business contacts too, so it’s vital to listen carefully to how they respond to you and be quick to amend your first judgement if you think it may not be getting the results you are looking for!
Like any great insights, personality modelling gives us the opportunity to assess and amend our strategy.
They work best not just because we’ve learned a vital piece of information, but because we can establish a plan of action to deal with it.
Sit down with colleagues and look at each personality type in turn:
- Establish what kind of information would be required, where you can get it, and how it would best be provided
- Build a library of assets that support these strategies
- Create a ‘cheat sheet’ of ideas that you can put into play at any moment and get them down on paper
You may be tempted just to make this a thought exercise, but writing them down will help you structure your response and commit them to memory.
The only way you can work out if your strategies are effective is to put them into action.
Start working with your contacts right away, make a note of what works and what doesn’t – and where needed, change it!
Best of luck!