Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

"You Gotta Have Personality"


Which of these four personality colours are you?

Red: "Time is money", "No excuses, just get on with it".
Blue: "Show me the big picture", "Let's do it - where we are going will be incredible".
Green: "Let’s have a cup of tea and get to know each other", "how will everyone feel about this?".
Black: "Where’s the independent proof", "I want to see the numbers validated", "Who says so besides you?".

Actually at different times we are all of these colours or personality styles, but generally speaking we have a preferred style. The usual outcome is we operate in our preferred style with everyone, which is a "one size fits all" approach. We know in most areas of business, this "one size fits all" is generally not where we want to be, but in one of the most important areas in business – our interaction with others – this is our normal default position. Uh oh!

There are a multitude of lost opportunities floating around as a result. Our preferred style works pretty well with roughly one quarter of the population, those most like us, and we can often struggle with the rest of our clients or colleagues.

It doesn’t have to be like that, we could be getting on well with all styles, if we know how.

Here is the how – just make two decisions!

Please visualise a horizontal scale. On the left hand side locate people who are very low in assertion terms. On the right, imagine highly assertive individuals. So when you meet someone, make your first pass and guess where this person is located on the scale - assertive or non-assertive.

Usually it is not that difficult to place them. Those with strong opinions, who want to organize things, who want to direct outcomes, etc., tend to be high in assertion. They direct the conversation. The opposite style is probably a bit more reserved, they observe, are not likely to lecture you, lead you, or cut you off mid-sentence. They won’t challenge your views, instead they will often look for points of agreement.

Now let’s create a vertical scale in your mind’s eye. At the top of the scale locate someone who is very people oriented. They enjoy the company of others, they are concerned about how people feel, they are thinking about outcomes in terms of the people involved.

Their opposite number at the bottom of the scale is concerned with task, with results. The outcome is critical, "the end justifies the means"; "the objective must be achieved" etc. They will no doubt talk in terms of numbers, targets, outcomes or results. You can quickly plot where they are on the scale.

With two simple decisions you can plot four quadrants – this should take you about 10-20 seconds! So to match the colours, the Blue Zone would be top right, someone who is assertive but has a high people orientation. Often salespeople, actors, PR people, lobbyists, and trainers. The Red Zone, bottom right, would be occupied by the CEO, the "my way or the highway" boss. The Green Zone, top left, would be the carer, the team player, the "salaryman". The Black Zone, bottom left, is often the accountant, scientist, lawyer, engineer.

The point is not just knowing that we are entering a certain Zone when we meet people. We have to be able to operate effectively in that Zone.

Don’t waste their time with small talk in the Red Zone – get straight down to business. Speak quickly, have a high tempo, and be dynamic. "We should do this and do it now. Here are the three reasons why this is the best course of action…".

In the Green Zone, slow your speaking speed right down, drop the power in your voice to make it soft and non-threatening. Over tea, calmly talk about "This idea will really be good for the team’s motivation and how the people here will feel because…".

In the Blue Zone, we are focused on winning as a team and we talk about how "This new idea will take us to Number One, we are going to go all the way to the top, and then we will party, party, party!".

In the Black Zone, we had better be talking about the finer points of detail and we better be able to back it up with proof. "Five separate totally reputable market research studies from 1985 onwards, at specific intervals of 5 years, in all 15 key markets, have consistently indicated a 12.35% average take up by the top 9.29% of wealthy consumers who earn an average of $892,525 per annum".

Learn to be "In The Zone" they prefer and you will be successful with all four personality styles. This means switching gears, being flexible, being sensitive to style and being skilled in communication. You remain yourself, but you adapt your communication style to be more effective. The rewards are enormous, because being on the same wave length with four out of four clients, certainly beats the one out of four that your competitors are struggling to manage.

Are your sales people professionals who can switch and be Red, Blue, Green and Black at will? How about you as a manager? Can you switch gears and get the most engagement from the troops, by being able to relate individually to your team members or are you a "one size fits all" leader?

If not, time to make two decisions, "colour up" and move into the customer or colleagues’ preferred personality style zone.


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