Leadership Development

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How Do I Get People to Listen to Me?

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

1998 Rush Hour movie starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker

How many times have you been in a situation where you were trying to communicate with someone and it felt you might as well have been talking to the wall? I remember explaining a concept to a client using a PowerPoint and the client didn’t hear a word I said because he was focused on how he didn’t like the color scheme on the slide.

60% of communications fail because communication styles and preferences are not aligned. Based upon 1999 Stanford Research study.

Our brains are hard-wired to process information and learn a certain way. Most people accept this by now due to the volume of research on the topic. However, we can learn how to adapt to different communication styles to increase our effectiveness.

Sales increased 17% just by a salesperson mimicking the communication style of a potential customer. Harvard Business Review

Our research has identified that most people have one of 4 primary communication styles: Goal-Setting, Lifestyle, Stability and Information. There is a lot you can learn about people and how their brain processes information:

  • Learning Style
  • Communication Preferences
  • Information needs for Decision-making

Iceberg picture

With this knowledge, you can make some simple adjustments to how you approach a person to help them absorb the information, understand why your communicating and ensure they take away the points you feel are important (the ability to influence them.)

8 Simple Tips to Adapt Your Communication Style for Others:

If you are interacting with a Goal-Setter primary communication type:

1. Start with the End Goal in Mind – What is the purpose of the interaction and how does it connect to your audience’s goal (what’s in it for them?) Use bullets and executive summaries to convey more information with fewer words. Details can be provided after the summary if needed, but Goal-setters don’t read long emails/blogs or sit through long presentations.

2. Provide Options – If you only give them one recommendation or option, you will most likely get pushback or a “no.” They want to be able to make a choice. They will likely want to discuss it.

If you are interacting with a Lifestyle primary communication type:

3. Explain Who is Involved -Being more relationship-focused, their brains first have to understand who is involved, their role, how they fit into the discussion and what they may think about it. They also respond well to social events and informal communication methods.

4. Use Visuals – Rather than send a long email or written instructions use a picture, infographic or demo to better help their brains process the information and retain it. They need to experience it to learn.

If you are interacting with a Stability primary communication type:

5. How You Say It Matters – The right tone is especially important for this group. They prefer supportive and low-risk interactions and solutions. Email may not be the best choice, but if you do send an email, be very careful to consider them as a person and how they might perceive it or “feel” about it.

6. Slow Down and Reassure – They like to be thorough and appreciate step-by-step instructions. They want to be very comfortable and sure of their actions before they act.

If you are interacting with an Information primary communication type:

7. Stick to the facts – They prefer to primarily focus on tasks/results and do not necessarily want a lot of social interactions. They tend to be logical, want to “get to the truth,” and understand “why,” therefore, they are more comfortable when they have more details, information, and research.

8. Don’t Try Appealing to their Emotional Side – I repeat, stick to the facts, policies and procedures, and the logical explanation. If you try to sway them with name-dropping, leverage office politics, oversell a concept with marketing hype or appeal to their emotional side, you will actually repel them, not influence them.

What’s your communication style? For more information on the research, how it works, or how to apply this knowledge, contact inquiries@dnabehavior.com.

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken Batch 2

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken

Managing Difficult Conversations in the Workplace

The President of a company called together his senior executives and announced that the CEO had a heart attack. The CEO was hospitalized, but after surgery he was expected to make a full recovery. The President insisted on complete confidentiality until he had more information to share.

The President was a wise man. He was formal, systematic in all his dealings, good at analyzing information, a man of integrity, thoughtful and well respected.

His Head of Marketing left the meeting feeling confused, a sense of instability, emotional, and concerned. He immediately used social media to encourage all his friends to think about the CEO and believe for a fast recovery. The Head of Marketing was empathetic and warm. He was a person who needed stability and a calm, predictable working environment. He was very well liked, very good at his job and had a wide network of friends and business contacts.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

Directly after the meeting, the President received a call from the media asking for a comment; the company share price dropped 10%. The next call was from the Chairman insisting the source of the leak be found and fired.

The news of the CEO’s heart attack was now only 3 hours old; the potential fall out to the business (and the family) was significant.

The President recalled his executive team kept them standing and insisted the culprit own up immediately. The Head of Marketing owned up and the remainder of the team left the room.

The President immediately put the Head of Marketing on notice saying, “I instructed you to keep what I told you in confidence. That means you agree to keep the information completely, totally secret and not to repeat the information without permission.” He continued, becoming even more analytical in his communication, “asking someone to keep a confidence is a solemn contract. You broke it.”

The Head of Marketing tried, without success, to respond. The President left the room leaving the executive confused, bruised (metaphorically speaking) and devastated that he had acted so inappropriately. His first reaction to the news was driven by feelings and a loss of certainty about his future. He’d given no thought to the family or the consequences of such news reaching the marketplace.

Communication Differences Relationship Performance

The reality of the situation is that the President and Head of Marketing were operating from their natural zone and they did not have the awareness to adapt.

Had both parties understood their inherent communication and behavioral styles this would have been a different scenario. The President would have emphasized the potential market risk. He would have understood the inherent behaviors of some of his team. He could have stressed the importance of not bringing emotions into the situation. The Head of Marketing would have understood his own reaction to the challenging news. He would have realized he’d be concerned about the potential loss of stability and safety in his environment and known how to manage his reaction to the news.

Difficult Conversations After a Confidence is Broken  Insert Photo 3

  1. Set a structured agenda and have prepared questions.
  2. Meet in a more formal environment in the office.
  3. Expect yes/no answers.
  4. Offer details and analysis.
  5. Avoid abstract ideas in communication, and keep to specifics.
  6. Present the research performed to come to the specific conclusion.
  7. Provide case studies as examples rather than having a high-level, conceptual discussion.
  8. Show the risks are minimized (not eliminated) in the recommendations.
  9. Say what you are going to do and then do it. Be very transparent.
  10. Provide them with newsletters and books, economic information.

How we handle responsibility for our decisions, as well as our mistakes, is a direct reflection on our character. However, without insight into our inherent communication and behavioral style we do not know our default reaction to a situation such as the Head of Marketing faced.

 

When should an Entrepreneur hire Operational leaders-

When Should an Entrepreneur Hire Operational Leaders?

It takes a very unique individual to become a successful entrepreneur. They have to understand the current marketplace, identify (or create) an unfulfilled need, develop a product or service that people want, know how to market and sell it and successfully deliver it to achieve a satisfied customer. Often, they start with just themselves or a couple of people. They have to do and be everything. They have to be hard-working, anticipate issues, and able to adjust to changing dynamics quickly.

Not only have we worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, but our President, Hugh Massie, is one. While every person is unique, we have noticed there is a distinct trend of very strong natural behaviors traits that we consistently see in entrepreneurs: Take-Charge, Fast-Paced, Spontaneous, Pioneering, Risk-Taking, and Creative. They are natural Initiators, authoritative, Influencers, results-oriented, adaptable, very driven and resourceful.

Once an Entrepreneur starts to grow and hire people, the dynamics of their organization change. Now instead of doing it themselves, they have to rely on other people. They have to become managers and, hopefully, leaders. Many entrepreneurs struggle with this and in taking their business to the next sales and organizational level simply because some of their natural strengths that made them so successful, may need to be adapted to working with a team of different personalities who have different strengths. When these entrepreneurs don’t adapt, they can stifle the organization’s success. They can struggle with not listening to their team, being impatient, dominating, creating consistency or developing the right amount of structure and organization. They need to learn to lead instead of manage and dominate.

Can they do it? Yes, but it will not be easy. The stronger those natural strengths are, the harder it will be to adapt.

  • They have to first take an inventory of what their natural gifts are…and what they aren’t.
  • They have to learn how to strategically hire people that complement their strengths by being naturally good where they themselves struggle.
  • Then they have to figure out how to relinquish some control while still remaining very informed and involved in the direction of the company.
  • They have to learn how motivate, and not accidentally de-motivate, the team.

Behavioral awareness can be key to growth. Your leadership style will either help or hurt you, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
Take the first step in learning your entrepreneurial natural behavior strengths and struggles by completing the Natural Behavior Discovery.

Managing Difficult Conversation During In the Workplace

Managing Difficult Conversation During In the Workplace

Alex leads a team of strategists and planners working to mitigate any issues that might arise as a result of policies to be introduced into a highly successful international manufacturing company.

The team is made up of great minds, thinkers, strategists, statisticians, all highly regarded in their field. The team tests every scenario to ensure that new products or services introduced meet client needs, do not compromise existing services or products and conform to any regulatory requirements worldwide.

 

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Alex is preparing to have a difficult conversation with Jay one of the top strategists whose behavior has become difficult to manage. Alex is structured, formal; not big on conflict and realizes he has allowed Jays authoritativeness, self-reliance and frankness to cause issues throughout the team and distract them during a particularly pressurized time.

Alex realizes that he has avoided talking to Jay whose behavior is now creating problems; he doesn’t want to have this difficult conversation but is aware that the team are talking about Jay and not talking to him concerning the impact his behavior is having on them. Jay is one of Alex most gifted strategists; his ability to make quick yet informed decisions makes him very valuable to the team.

A side issue that concerns Alex is realizing the team is dismissing input from Jay for no reason other than frustration about his ongoing behavior.

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The issue came to a head when one of Alex key team members offers their resignation citing Jay as the cause, adding that Jay was taking charge of every aspect of their work; was dismissive of input and responding harshly to attempts to challenge not only his input but also his communication style.

Alex prepares for the meeting with Jay; making sure that the meeting format is well set out in his head. He knows the outcome he wants; he doesn’t want to lose Jay nor any other staff member. But he also does not like conflict and tends to close down and retreat when people are blunt.

From the outset Jay appears defensive; Alex begins by acknowledging that there will be differences in how each person communicates and sees things. Differing perspectives is what makes the team great. He goes on to acknowledge successes, not just Jays but the team as a whole. Alex explains to Jay the impact of his current behavior, making sure to frame it in the behavior he, Alex, has observed and not in the he said, she said’.

Immediately Alex can see the confusion on Jays face. He asks Jay for his response to which Jay replies he had no idea his communication style was affecting and impacting his colleagues or Alex in this way.?He states that causing issues such as this was never his intention. He further states that he had indeed become frustrated and harsh in some of his responses simply because he viewed the current project they were working on so important and didn’t feel the others realized the implications to the business of getting their findings wrong, but his responses were never intended to be personal only ever about work.

Jay began to realize the implications of what Alex was saying; he could now see why the work atmosphere had become so negative towards him; why his suggestions and even concerns were being rejected.

Seeing Jay response, Alex immediately moves the conversation onto finding a structured solution.

The reality of the situation is that Jay, Alex and the team were operating from their natural zone, and they did not have the awareness to adapt. Alex realized that the solution lay in getting the whole team to complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process. Alex had completed this himself as part of a DNA Behavior International conference he attended. Alex realized that if Jay and the team completed this process and share the outcomes, they would have an insight into their communication and behavioral inherent styles. Alex puts this suggestion to Jay who quickly agrees.

The team complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process and along with Alex share the outcomes with each other.

  1. No long stories, keep to the point
  2. Keep meeting agenda short and focused
  3. Prioritize objectives around their goals
  4. Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
  5. Lay out the options so a decision can be made
  6. Provide bullet points
  7. Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
  8. Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
  9. Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
  10. Recognize them with referrals to other influencers

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With this knowledge, Alex and the team would have discovered that Jay communication style was not intended to be personal. Any harshness stemmed from his frustration to keep the work on track. The team members realized as they shared that Jay would not have taken offense had they pointed out his harshness and asked him to identify the source of it. Jay would have realized from reactions that his behavior was causing his colleagues to pull away from him, reject his input and he should have asked why.

Avoiding difficult conversations at work can grow to become a major barrier and obstacle to excellent performance. In this case, if everyone understood communication and behavioral styles it would not have escalated so far. However, insight into inherent communication and behavioral styles quickly put this team back on track.

 

Managing Difficult Project Delivery Conversations 2

Managing Difficult Project Delivery Conversations

Tom, who is the leader of a large technology solutions company, recently attended a 1-day leadership training workshop to learn more about how to effectively manage and coach teams. One of the aspects he learned was that engaging in difficult conversations is a critical part of a leader’s role. A key takeaway was that you cannot withdraw to get away from the possible conflict and then later re-appear to hold a team member accountable in a domineering way. With this leadership insight, Tom realized that learning to manage difficult conversations is critical to the preservation of relationships. Failing to understand the impact of communication on another person can lead to a relationship breakdown that undermines confidence, discourages employees and potentially destabilizes the business.

4 Primary Communication Style Graph

By nature, Tom is driven to reach goals, very competitive, confident and, in exercising initiative, makes things happen. Tom is currently under pressure as the delivery of a complicated and high-earning technology solution for a bank is running behind schedule. Tom naturally communicates very directly. He gets to the bottom line and is not interested in lengthy explanations or stories.

Josh heads up the project. He is analytical, very specific in his approach to business, won’t be rushed, and reacts when insufficient time is allocated to complete work. He recognizes that the timeline for the project is slipping but believes checking and re-checking ensure the outcome is successful and there will be little need to rework the technical solution for the client. Josh communicates using detail, examples and specifics to support a conversation.

Tom opens the conversation with “can you tell me why is the project slipping?” To which Josh responds, “we need more time, I want to be sure before sign off.” Josh continued outlining every aspect he was checking at which point Tom issued a directive: “sign the project off by close of business today.”

Under pressure, Tom failed to listen to the detail Josh was providing. Josh failed to see that Tom was under pressure and needed headlines, bullet points, and a range of sign-off options Tom could take to the client. The meeting ended acrimoniously.

 Lifestyle Communication DNA Style

Had Tom, as the leader, given Josh his time and attention to listen to the detail of where the project sat, he would have been able to provide Josh with suggestions on issues or priorities to help him effectively achieve a plan for a sign-off. Instead, Josh felt overwhelmed and rather than moving the project forward continued to focus on reviewing each issue/step of the project under the original brief believing that Tom was criticising his work.

The reality of the situation is that both Tom and Josh were operating from their natural behavior and they did not have the awareness to adapt. Then Tom remembered during the recent leadership training he had completed the Communication DNA Discovery Process which identified his direct goal-setting, communication style. He realized that if before the conversation, or even at the start of the project, that Josh had also completed his Communication DNA then the result of the difficult conversation could have been different. He would have seen the benefits of giving Josh space to present his position whilst steering him to the bottom line and thereby a solution. He could have demonstrated to Josh that any risk to the project was minimized and offered Josh assurances that he trusted him. Tom would have uncovered Josh’s natural ability to absorb and analyse information ‘on the run’ and offer strategies to move the project to closure.

Managing Difficult Conversation during Performance Appraisal Feedback

Managing Difficult Conversation during Performance Appraisal Feedback

Janet heads up a team of fifteen sales representatives who sell technology solutions in the financial services industry. She is preparing to have a difficult conversation with one of those sales people whose performance has slipped significantly. This will be Janet’s first appraisal with Nicky, a popular, and well-liked member of the sales team. As Janet prepares for the meeting she knows that a foundational premise to the exchange will be to speak candidly. She believes the important first step is to set out all of the issues with a view to having a conversation, finding a resolution and setting out a plan to go forward.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

By nature, Janet is driven to reach goals, very competitive, confident and in exercising initiative makes things happen. Janet is currently under pressure as the expected sales levels have not been reached by the team. Nicky is considered to play a key role in delivering sales, but this has not been reflected in the current numbers.

Nicky openly expresses her views; she is engaging and communicates with enthusiasm. Nicky is a ‘glass half full’ person often promising much that doesn’t actually get delivered. She is popular and builds networks with ease.

The most challenging part of the conversation for Janet will be to tie Nicky down to explaining why sales are falling. Janet needs the meeting to accomplish something if only to explain the current downturn. In addition, she wants there to be a specific agreement about what will be done, by whom, and when it will be completed.

As soon as Nicky enters the meeting room she dominates the conversation by passionately recounting an opportunity that she was currently working on. The more Janet tries to pull the conversation back on track the more Nicky regales with stories about what she would be working on and the opportunities in the pipeline. At this point, Janet found herself retreating (in her mind) against this barrage of chatter.

Her intention to obtain mutual understanding with Nicky that something has to be done to improve performance and close the performance gap was fading. Janet’s plan to provide a clear message to Nicky that she wanted her to succeed, and that she was there to assist, fell by the wayside. Janet’s frustration rose to a level where she assertively told Nicky to stop talking and listen. Janet then continued the meeting assuming control. Janet laid out the sales issues firmly and with little consideration to the impact of her now firm voice.

Had Janet, as the leader, known how to re-focus Nicky and keep her on track she would have achieved her desired outcome. Instead, Nicky closed down; her confidence seemed to fade immediately; she had hoped to gain Janet’s approval but instead felt herself becoming emotional.

The reality of the situation is that both Janet and Nicky were operating from their natural zone, and they did not have the awareness to adapt. As the leader Janet realized that the performance appraisal was not going well and that there was a real risk of Nicky’s performance slipping further due to lack of self-confidence. Then Janet recalled that when applying for this current role her executive search consultant asked her to complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process which identified her communication style as being direct. She realized that if before the conversation or even as she was preparing for the performance appraisal meeting Nicky had also completed her Communication DNA then the result of the difficult conversation could have been different. Janet would have seen the benefits of giving Nicky time to be exuberant with her stories and further, understood how to keep her on track so they could have a mutually beneficial exchange.

 

 Lifestyle Communication DNA Style

  1. Keep to an overview of the strategy and not too much detail
  2. Smile a lot and keep an upbeat, positive tone
  3. Have meetings in a relaxed environment, and allow more time
  4. Let them talk openly but keep on track
  5. Address their lifestyle goals
  6. Provide clean and simple graphics to invoke emotions (fewer words)
  7. Talk about “spending budgets” and returns in a range
  8. Ask what their “gut feeling” is on your recommendations
  9. Make decisions interactively together and provide opinions of others
  10. Recognize them with invitations to social events

With this knowledge Janet would have discovered how to address Nicky’s more exuberant approach, acknowledge her successes, smile a lot and keep an upbeat tone which would have put Nicky at her ease for more difficult and strategic discussion to take place. Janet had wanted them to make decisions together and share opinions on how best to move forward. However, Nicky would have realized that Janet didn’t need long stories but did need meetings to be structured and with meaningful outcomes.

The performance appraisal did not go well. No conclusion was reached. Janet suggested to Nicky that they reconvene at which time Nicky should produce a plan and strategy on how best to increase sales and, in addition, bring any suggestions she might want to include to improve the sales process.