Each year, at the beginning of my son’s basketball season, the coach gives a speech to all the parents. He says, “I promise if I have to discipline your child, I will always be fair. But that doesn’t mean that I will treat each child the same.” Now, at first glance, this may seem odd; however, if you examine your interpersonal relationships, you’ll find what works for one, may not work for another. Perhaps a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the best philosophy to use in all of our interpersonal interactions with co-workers, managers, clients, family members, or friends.
Reflect on some of your past relationships….think about a time you had difficulty relating to a new co-worker or manager. How did you work through that? The key is: If we can understand how a person inherently thinks, feels, and behaves as a unique individual, then we can be in a better position to relate to them. That’s why I’m such a strong proponent of Gallup StrengthsFinder.
Do you know your top 5 strengths? By using StrengthsFinder to identify your top 5 of 34 “themes/strengths” (such as Futuristic, Relater, Analytical, to name a few) and sharing these strengths with others, you can work with them – or simply relate to them – in a whole new way.
For example, if I’m working with a co-worker or client with a strong Analytical theme, I know that I must give them time to absorb and process information. On the other hand, if I’m working with someone who has a strong Ideation theme, I know this person prefers to continually brainstorm ideas. The point is, as an individual, I make it my responsibility to relate to others based on their strengths. In that way, I can better predict how they will respond to me. (That’s why all my friends get a StrengthsFinder book!)
Here’s a personal example. I am a Relater. I like to open up to others, discuss my thoughts, discuss their thoughts. Now my son has high Competition and Significance. He doesn’t relate with all of these “feelings”. So explaining to him how I may feel, what my hopes are for him, may not necessarily “connect” for him. However, if I tie that to how he may be able to achieve more, be the best, I’m going to connect. It’s all in thinking about what inspires another person.
Over the next few blog entries, I’ll discuss how we can leverage the knowledge of a person’s strengths to enhance our relationships with our managers, co-workers, or simply, our good friends.