I spend a significant amount of my work time helping people in organizations understand and build on personality differences. Recently, I was reflecting on this work and recognized that four steps are key to being able to truly build on differences.
Step 1: Understand who you are. Self-understanding is the entry point to understanding others. A variety of models and assessments can help you with this. Some of my favorites are Temperament (why we do what we do), Interaction Styles (how we do what we do), Cognitive Processes (how we think about things), and Strength Finder (what our natural talents are).
Step 2: Understand others. Once you understand the models and yourself, you can begin to understand how others are different from or similar to you. Observe their approach to situations. Ask them questions to clarify how they see themselves and learn more about how they are unique.
Step 3: Make space for other people's styles, needs and approaches. Recognizing differences makes it easier for us to be open to different styles and approaches. Then we can provide an opportunity for people to be themselves. For example, many years ago, I learned that some people need to think about something before they are ready to speak up. I have learned to wait longer after I ask a question -- providing tthem with think time.
Step 4: Flex your style. This step involves changing your behavior from what is natural to something that may be a bit difficult or awkward at first, to connect better with someone else. For example: My natural way of speaking is very direct. I have learned that with some people, if I use a more informative approach, they will hear me more clearly. This lets us engage in dialogue together.
Be patient with yourself and others as you progress from Step 1 through Step 4!
If you or people in your organization need help with making positive use of differences, give me a call!!