Learn to deal differently with different types of people. Learn the four types: Detail vs big picture. Logic vs emotions. The analytical (blue), the controller or driver (red), the enthusiast (yellow or orange,) and the amiable (green). Learn how to influence each type and troubleshoot problems across the diagonal. People can be a mixture.
- To be successful at anything, you'll have to deal with other people, whether it's a few close relationships with business partners and key customers, or lots of brief working relationships with small customers and suppliers. It's the same whether you're running your own business, working in an organization, or working on projects in your spare time. Relationships with other people are always key. And I think the main thing to know about other people is that they aren't all the same as you. They think differently, they make their decisions differently, and they like to be communicated with in different ways.
Of the many different models of communication styles, the one I like best is the one that divides everyone into just four types. Of course you can be a mixture, on the edge between two types, and there are some people who I just can't place. But it works really well for most people I deal with, which seems like a pretty good result to me. It divides people into detailed versus big picture, and logical versus emotional. So the first type of person is the detailed and logical person, often called the analytical person, and often given the color of blue.
These people like to be shown all the details to see every component of the project plan, and to be given lots of options, with the pros and cons of each one. Are they a bit high maintenance? Well, yes in a way, except that they'll love doing all the detailed work for you. And generally, they're reliable and trustworthy, because they're so conscientious and thorough. Second is the person who's also logical, but much more big picture as opposed to detailed.
Usually called the driver, or controller and given the color red, these people just want results quickly, without getting involved in the detail. Don't keep them waiting or bore them with too much information. Once you realize that they don't mean to be scary, they just are a bit pushy, they can be great to work with, because they'll make decisions, and you know where you stand with them. If you want them to do something, then make sure you give them a brief summary of the pros and the cons, and especially the benefits to them.
They rely on you to look after the details, though, so make sure you keep your promises. Third is the other non-detail type, the enthusiast. Often given the color yellow or orange, these people are more emotional in their decision-making. They like fun and variety, and are driven by the excitement of the big end goal. They should ideally delegate all planning and detail. Their strength is creativity, as well as motivating other people. When dealing with them, make sure that you do the organizing for them, and then make the meetings fun and inspirational.
To persuade an enthusiast to do something, try describing a picture of how great it will be, and make it easy for them to get started. Finally, there's the person who is emotional rather than logical, but more careful and quiet than the enthusiast. This is the amiable person, often given the color green. They are the caring, observant person who works well in teams and with customers, but might struggle with big decisions and unpleasant tasks.
To persuade them to do something, it's all about first being their friend, being able to trust each other, and then about the longer term benefits to the people involved. The amiable will have some difficulty understanding and working with their diagonal opposite, the controller, but actually they are just what the controller needs to help them think about the human side of things. And the controller is just the person the amiable needs to help them make the big and unpleasant decisions. While it's good to know about yourself and what type of person you are, it's even more important to be aware of the process of adapting to other people.
Make a conscious effort to speak the language that they will find easy to understand. It will be interesting to list the main people that you work with and see if you can put them into the four categories I've just described, and then to think about how you would work with them even more effectively than you do at present.