After spending a hugely enjoyable and productive afternoon with three graduate trainees last week; it has inspired me to want to talk about the powerful experience that we shared when talking about their personal brands and exploring their communication styles at work.
I have in the past blogged alot here and elsewhere about Personal Brand mentioning the work I did with Angie Belcher at The Brand Button on developing the Personal Brand Wheel, which you can see here also; but the immediacy of a training session really brought home to me the ultimate questions that those of us seeking to understand, connect and influence others should be asking...’how does the world experience me’ ?
The first stage in the this exploration is of course to ask that question – if you are not bothered enough to ask the question then you will not be receptive to finding out the answer and that is the key to the whole piece. I guess the simplest comparison is that when we talk, act or communicate in any way imagine that we are throwing a pebble (or huge boulder!) into the ‘water’ that is around us; that water could be the team, office, company or industry we work in.
Now for some people that ‘pebble’ will cause some slight ripples that they understand and are prepared to work with because it’s you and they know what the authentic you is...however for others even the smallest pebble can create a tidal wave of emotional responses that can cause damage, of either short or long term impact. What understanding how the world experiences you is about is knowing that ripples are caused and then doing something about it if indeed something needs to be done...
That kind of metaphor is all very good but what does it mean in real terms? Well let’s look first at Personal Brand. Being you authentically is great – people get you and know what they will get from you. Those who know you that is...what about poeple you are meeting for the first time? People who do not have a track record of experiencing you? That is when the second crucial A-word of personal brand comes in to play – Appropriate....that is all about turning your control dials up or down to make sure that the behaviour / message you are communicating is right for the circumstances. I guess that people who say ‘well that’s just me take it or leave it’ will have stopped reading already or maybe they haven’t, that would be great!
So it is what others can expect from you that matters; if you are always in the middle of things at a party but are found alone in a corner others will certainly ask ‘are you ok?’ even if you are fine; you have created a brand that brings with it expectations from the rest of us. The same thing applies when we write a CV, complete an interview or perform in an assessment centre probably more critically than if we have a longer time to express our brand....people build expectations on the clues you give them and then expect you to meet them.
OK so those of us that are interested in this will understand that as a brand we bring a package of behaviours and styles that others will learn to understand and expect. But the biggest compliment we can pay someone else is to think, ‘I am not like you and I want you to feel comfortable / understand me / connect with me and so I am going to be flexible to help that to happen’ but how....
This is where the communication styles work of Bolton and Bolton comes to mind. You have your Drivers, Expressives, Amiables and Analysts all with a style, needs and priorities. Understanding who you are communicating with and what they need is crucial to the generous act of flexing your style.
Fast paced decision makers, impatient with those that can’t keep up. They prefer speedy actions based on their opinions and will rectify mistakes later. They are practical, calm and get things done quickly. Seen by others as demanding and always goal/work orientated. May need to listen more and slow down sometimes....
Fast moving and adventuresome and they like new ideas and creativity. They prefer to create a vision and then persuade others that it is the right one. They are energetic, enthusiastic, entertaining and risk takers. Seen by others as gamblers, impulsive, high speed and persuasive. May need to accept rules, deadlines and real world factors more....
Considerate and supportive of others; they want time to build rapport and focus on the team. The seek agreement and broker solutions with the group – they want everyone to be happy. They specialise in compassion, loyalty and building trust. Others see them as trustworthy, kind, strong on people skills and not self-promoting. May need to think more about their own needs and deal with conflict better?
Cautious and thoughtful; they like to have all of the facts before committing to an action. They seek to minimise risk by being thorough before deciding what to do. Specialists in precision, accuracy and objective thought; can be seen by others as a little detached sometimes, rational and cool but always reliable and accurate. May need to learn when to pick up the pace and trust more.
Think about the times when you have been which ever one of these that you usually are; I know its simplistic but bear with me and now think about whether you could have been more flexible and achieved a better result by trying to understand what the other persons' natural style was and what was important to them?
I am not preaching at you but just introducing the idea that an authentic and appropriate personal brand is hugely important but so is being a generous and flexible human being and I guess I am saying that if you can combine the two then you have got something special going on!
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