Communication with Uncomfortable People


Lillian D Bjorseth

Ever notice how comfortable you feel with certain people? You can say and do what you want,and communication flows smoothly. Then, there are those OTHER people. The ones whose footsteps in the hallway make the hair on the back of your neck bristle as you put on your armor for the battle that will ensue. It seems as if no matter what you say or how you say it, good communication doesn�t happen. Your message is distorted, and you feel frustrated, misunderstood and even angry. One of the major reasons for this common workplace phenomenon is people�s different behavioral style. You can be naturally conflictive when you behave naturally!

There�s hope. Behavioral experts have made it relatively easy to understand why people act and react the way to do. And, once you better understand yourself and others, you can modify your behavior in different situations since people like to be dealt with in their style. It will help you make the sale, improve teamwork, manage better, reduce conflict and improve communication. These principles have been espoused since Greek mythology and furthered by people like Hippocrates, Carl Jung and William Marston.

The four major behavior patterns are dominance, influencing, steadiness and conscientiousness (DISC). Each of us is a combination of all four, but almost everyone finds at least one or two of the styles most comfortable.

Dominant styles are easy to detect. They sport a strong handshake, steady eye contact and exhibit a confidence that may overwhelm less powerful people. They prosper by solving challenges � and often are a challenge for others. They don�t get ulcers; they are carriers. They are risk takers and thrive as CEOs of their own companies and big corporations. To get along better, provide brief, direct answers. Stick to business and the results they desire. Ask �what� questions.

Influencers are natural networkers. They are still working the room, hallways and parking lots long after most people have left. Usually, people talk at 160 words a minute. High �Is� comfortably speak at 400 words a minutes, with gusts up to 700 words. They are spontaneous and change plans at a moment�s notice. This can result in piles of papers on their floors and desks, the top of which they haven�t seen since they got it. They thrive in sales, public relations and other jobs that �deal with people.� Provide a favorable, friendly environment and let them verbalize about people, ideas, the weather and on and on. Supply testimonials, as they want to know �who� is using your products and services and attending your After-Hours. Focus on building relationships!

Steady people are just as their moniker indicates: Amicable, calm, soothing, sincere, loyal and the consummate team player. They are so nice � dogs come up and pet them! They are most comfortable when everyone gets along, thus, the most disappointed when conflict arises. They often climb into their shell, hoping the disagreements will disappear. They are by far the best listeners and often are cornered by the natural networkers! Provide a sincere, personal and agreeable environment. Focus on answers to �how� questions. Assure them you will personally follow up.

Conscientious people are analytical, quality control people who make sure things are done right. Usually, they think they can do it �most right.� As managers, they have sticky fingers and micro-manage. They seem to have computers in their heads and compare what is said to their database. If it fits, they keep it; if not, they discard it. This process (and they spent a lot of time processing), takes time and, therefore, they are the least verbal. Prepare your case in advance and logically present pros and cons. Help them see the �whys.� Be prepared to provide lengthy explanations � and leave the small talk behind.

Understanding your personal preference(s) and those of others will help you improve your bottom line results.

Lillian is called a networking expert by the Chicago Tribune and the business networking authority by the Association Forum of Chicagoland. She helps entrepreneurs through Fortune 100 employee improve business development, business networking & communication skills. Author of Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships That Work & other products. Top graduate of University of Missouri School of Journalism.