Misperceptions and assumptions cause some of the biggest problems in relationships, human performance, and team interaction. You’ve heard the old saying, “We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.” But when trying to understand others, experience tells us that more often, “We judge others by the actions they take through the lens of our own intentions.” Many people regularly assume the reason others take a certain action is because that is why they would take that same action. How would I be thinking and feeling if I did that? So that must be the way they are thinking and feeling. But nothing could be further from the truth!
When expectations are unclear, it compounds the problem. At work, a job description describes what you do but not how to do it. Your behavioral style will influence how you do it. Doing a task much differently than expected can cause conflict. We intuitively know people can be very different, but how does an understanding of behavioral styles help with human interaction, especially at work?
The first significant benefit of a good behavioral styles model is that it provides a language for behavior. Without a language, it’s difficult to understand, talk about, or resolve behavioral issues. We have about 3 million colors in the color spectrum but we only have words for about 300 colors. So it’s hard to talk about the other 2,999,700 colors. We need a language for behavior.
The second benefit of a good behavioral styles model is that it provides a great foundation for understanding why people do what they do. Through the use of a behavioral styles model, we can shift our paradigm to: “I try to understand the actions taken by others through the lens of their behavioral style.” This provides a much more accurate approach. The longer we know someone, the more we intuitively understand their motives, but even then we can make big mistakes. A good behavioral styles model provides a great foundation of understanding that can be validated and clarified through discussion with others, a discussion enabled by a new language from the behavioral styles model.
There are currently over 100 behavioral styles models on the market with a 4-factor (4 styles) system. The one that I like the best is the DiSC model. DiSC is a needs-based behavioral model that helps you understand why people do what they do to get their needs met. DiSC can be applied through a wide variety of tools to improve job performance, sales, management, communications, motivation, conflict resolutions, team building, change management, and much more. DiSC is simple enough that you can learn and apply it in one day.
This is one of the first recommendations I make for improving relationships, human performance, and team interaction within an organization. Teach DiSC across the whole organization and integrate the model and language into your daily activities through the wide variety of application tools. Once you’ve learned the DiSC model, the next time you see someone doing something that you wouldn’t do, you can 1) try to look at their actions through the lens of their behavioral style and then 2) talk with them about their choice of actions, using the DiSC language, to understand them better.
A few things to consider:
- If your team consists of multiple behavioral styles, how can you minimize conflict?
- If you are part of a team with styles other than your own, how can you thrive?
- If your job requires behaviors that are different from your normal style, is that good or bad?
6 Actions to Improve Interaction in Business Startups
- Adopt a proven behavioral styles model and train all staff.
- Proactively incorporate your selected behavioral styles model into all your business processes.
- Encourage and role model open discussions on behavioral issues using your new language.
- Don’t label and place people in a box. Behavior is more complex and people can use multiple styles.
- Ask questions to confirm your understanding of other people’s behaviors.
- Don’t use your style as an excuse. Once you understand your style, you can overcome limitations.
Founder and CEO, Leadership Institute For Entrepreneurs