When considering a development plan for yourself or someone else, don't limit it to an academic or technical one, says Mike Sissens. As a training professional, I would say that inspiration, enthusiasm and simple communication form the bedrock of any trainer's toolkit. I would also argue that they play a crucial part in the life of anyone involved in a commercial organisation. It is a common mistake, though, to think of these characteristics as ‘in-built’ life skills that we gain from academic learning.We know from our own experiences that when we are in a situation that presses all the ‘right buttons’ we can fire up all three capabilities.
Why, then, are these situations so rare?
When at school, college or university, we concentrate our efforts on learning factual information that will help us achieve qualifications, or to get the right job. When do we learn the skills of interacting with other people, and what level of importance is placed on the development of interpersonal skills in education? In my, opinion not enough.Psychologists tell us that up to 85 per cent of our work-related problems arise from not getting on with other people!
Often during our workshops people tell us “If we had realised, earlier the importance of understanding our behaviour, and how it affects others, we would have achieved so much more, so much sooner”.
Pressing the ‘Right Buttons’
So how can we learn to ‘press the right buttons?’
Over the last few years I have ‘discovered’ the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung and his unique approach to understanding personal behaviour. I also know many people who have been inspired and enthused by the Insights Colour Behaviour System based on his work. We have used this system with many clients to help them develop and improve sales, management, customer care and team working skills.
The system is based on a method used to recognise your behavioural style and that of those around you, to help you ‘tune in’ to the needs of others.
It is based on the principle that we all display one or more of four behaviour ‘energies’. It helps us realise that we often only look at situations from our own perspective, rather than that of others, which may cause difficulty and friction.
Classifying these ‘energies’ into four colours enables simple communication of behaviour styles, and helps us adjust our dominant behaviour, which may be inappropriate, to other people.
‘Fiery Red’ energy is displayed by those who are demanding, driving and forceful achievers. ‘Sunshine Yellow’ energy is displayed by those who are sociable, demonstrative, enthusiastic and persuasive. ‘Earth Green’ energy comes from those who are caring, encouraging, sharing, patient and relaxed. ‘Cool Blue’ energy is displayed by those who are cautious, deliberate, precise, questioning and formal.It’s not new – thinkers as far back as Hippocrates have divided people into four types. As individuals we are aware that we communicate most easily with those who display similar behaviour patterns to our own. Helping people determine their predominant energy patterns and those of others – who may be different from them – helps them realise which aspects of their energy they should modify to adjust to others.
Understanding your own behaviour style, in the form of a colour energy preference, and how to spot that of others, is a matter of practice. It can, though - as shown below - have spectacular results.
Jung and his behaviour analysis has been an inspiration beyond anything I have previously seen in the field of personal and professional development, because it is so easy to understand and use. More importantly it gets results.
Developing your interpersonal skills as part of your CPD could have a dramatic effect on your career, not least in overcoming many of those work-related communication issues you may suffer from.
Mike Sissens is managing director of AXIOM Business and Training Solutions.
A salesperson who signed an order for £250,000 after successfully ‘tuning in’.Pete had seen his prospect on numerous occasions, but always found it difficult to connect. The conversation did not flow well, and there were many awkward gaps, often mistaken for ‘silent closes’. Meetings would finish with no result.Pete then ‘discovered’ his colour energy, and learned how to spot the difference in others. When he next visited his client he realised the problem – he had been trying to deal in his own way with someone who used opposing behaviour, and had a completely different set of values.Pete adjusted and – bingo – within two visits he had gained an order worth £250,000A sales manager saving lots of cash.When John attended one of our workshops he displayed masses of positive ‘fiery red’ energy. His drive was enormous, and he did not suffer fools gladly.A couple of months later he phoned me to say thank you for saving his company many thousands of pounds.Six months earlier, he had employed three successful salespeople from a competitor. When he came on our workshop he was considering terminating their employment, as none of them had been successful since joining. Not one had hit their target, and there seemed little hope of them ever reaching it. John then realised that all three had ‘earth green energy’ as their dominant behaviour – his style of ‘fiery red’ may have caused the problem. He discussed his behaviour style with them and that it may have clashed with theirs. Further discussions revealed that their previous manager had displayed loads of ‘green energy’ and had been ‘in touch’ with them. He had been able to encourage them towards the success they had shown.John agreed to acknowledge their need for help, although at first he found it difficult, and also requested they tried to understand his fiery red behaviour. The result was that just by acknowledging the situation, it was enough to rekindle the motivation in them. When he rang, they were well on target, and he had saved a lot of money, by not having to look for new recruits.