Something that determines our success as advisors to a huge degree is the extent to which we’re able to deal with other people – our social and emotional intelligence.
Not only do we need to be able to inspire trust in others, but we also have to be easy to get along with, yet assertive enough so as to inspire confidence, that we know we’re doing.
Many of the advisors I coach have a hard time with this balancing act, and find that they sometimes need to compromise their authenticity – in other words, they don’t feel like they can be who they fully are – or in the words of Brené Brown that they can stand in their own truth.
When that happens, we fail to connect with our customers in a deep way and we end up service providers instead Trusted Advisors.
One of the things that helps navigating this precarious situation is the ability to adjust our communication (verbal and non-verbal) to the person sitting across the table from us.
Personally, I’ve found it helpful to group people into four boxes, in order to guide my thinking – they are as follows:
- The Enthusiast
- The Diplomat
- The Analyst
- The Practitioner
What’s important to note here, is that most of us possess traits across all four personality types to a certain degree. For my own part, my default is around 60% enthusiast, 20% practitioner, 15% Diplomat and 5% Analyst.
Another important thing to mention here, is that there is nothing inherently good or bad about any of the personality types, they simply are what they are. People can be wonderful, creative Enthusiasts who really care about making a difference, and will elevate those around them to do so. They can also be mean-spirited assholes, who will destroy everything in their wake to do what they set out to do. Sometimes the same person can contain both – Steve Jobs might be an example, that fits the previous description.
What’s more, people usually adjust their personalities to fit in with the group of people they surround themselves with, and to the circumstances they find themselves in. To give you an example of this, I did my undergraduate in Economics – a degree that attracts mainly Analysts, which meant that I had to cultivate that part of my personality. Something that was probably good for me in the long run, but painful (as well as detrimental to my grades) at times.
The main point here, is that these personality types are a filter through which to view the world, and I’m sure they will help you tremendously whenever you interact with your clients, your spouse, your children or any other human being you might encounter.
So without further ado, let’s look at each of the four in turn.
First of all – the Enthusiast loves, loves, loves new things and situations. The more new and exciting something is, the better. They adapt quickly to change, and thrives when things are unknown, risky and and the outcomes are uncertain. They love to be involved in projects, and like to start new things with others. They’re social animals who thrive with others. They like to “think with their mouth open” and usually it’s harder to get an enthusiast to stop talking, than it is to engage him or her in a conversation. If something interests them, they can talk about it for hours, and they will pour all their considerable creative energy into endeavors which may or may not lead somewhere. For these reasons they make great entrepreneurs (but terrible operators).
The reasons why they make terrible operators is because they’re unorganized (check) and inattentive to detail (double check), and they can also be impatient, temperamental and very demanding if they don’t feel things are happening fast enough – which they usually aren’t (triple check).
So when you encounter an enthusiast in the market (where they’ll usually be VP of sales, Chief Commercial Officer or in some cases CEO) be sure that talk about the vision you’re creating together – how what you’re doing will be new and exciting and create massive amounts of value, for massive amounts of people. Be aware that their metaphoric language and vivid imagery might throw you for a loop on occasion, but if you can stick with their fluid thinking and keep up with them, as they jump fluidly between subjects, you’ll be able to gain rapport with them pretty quickly.
Most people I coach who aren’t Enthusiasts themselves attest to having a difficult time with dealing with them. If you find yourself in the same boat there are a few ways you can adjust your own communication (without compromising your authenticity) to make it easier on yourself:
- Make sure you keep them in the loop – even if you might not feel like there’s much progress
- Whenever something happens let them know
- Reach out to them to check in, to hear what’s going on on their side of town
Diplomats are great at getting along with others. They make others feel welcomed, they are friendly, warm and are good at forming coherent groups. They are very skilled at reaching consensus and understanding others. Many Diplomats are natural Empaths, and are very skilled at understanding and sensing other people’s moods. Depending on the individual, some diplomats err on the side of being too shying away from conflict, while others know that – even though it’s not pleasant – it’s a necessary evil. Some Diplomats can get too easily swayed by others’ opinions, and as a result have a hard time making decisions, because they want everyone on the same page before making a decision.
When you run into a Diplomat, make sure that you talk in terms of “We”, “Us” and “The Team”, and if you are in the business of selling something to a diplomat make sure that you spend extra time making sure everyone around them is comfortable (and make that known to them), re-assure them that what you’re proposing won’t rock the boat too much – in other words that it’s an evolution, rather than a revolution – and for God’s sake, if anything causes bruised egos in the organization make sure you take the blame for it.
This might sound counterintuitive, but Diplomats appreciate this, because then people have somewhere to challenge that, and assuming you can bear it, this is a great way to build trust with a Diplomat.
Last but not least, make sure you match their relaxed and accommodating body language and take your time to talk things through. If you rush things, you’re most likely to get nowhere fast, but if you take your time, and let them know that it’s okay to go an extra round to get everybody on board, then you’ll be well on your way to being in the Diplomat’s good graces.
Analysts are who you want attacking your problems. They’re organized, they’re structured, they’re precise, meticulous and thorough. They’re fact driven, with self-control and they work well alone. Quite a number of engineers, doctors, programmers and yes… economists fall into this category. Because they are each other’s polar opposites they can either work very well with the Enthusiast or it can be a complete shitshow. The key is that each must have an understanding of the other, and that’s where having this mental model that we’re describing here comes in handy.
Analysts won’t quit until they get the facts straight. Data, logic and systems appeal to them enormously, and they thrive in a world that is predictable and rational. On the flipside, they don’t deal well with the unknown. They want to have all aspects of a decision covered before they can commit to something, which means that they can be slow in deciding. They are also very aware of risk and downside, which means that Analysts usually make for great investors.
When you meet an analyst in the marketplace – if you were selling your services to an organization full of engineers just say – what you want to do is take the time to walk them through all the data that supports their decision. You want to make it very clear to them that logically they’re making the right decision, and most of all you want to make sure that you cover the downside.
Because Analysts want to know as much as possible before they decide, they can sometimes have difficulty prioritizing what’s most important. Therefore we need to help them prioritize all the information they have, in order for them to make the right decision.
What’s more – similar to Diplomats – Analysts don’t take well to moving ahead too quickly. They need time to think things through, which means that their slow and deliberate method of analyzing the situation is not them trying to stall, but simply an expression of the fact that they want to make the best possible decision for them and their organization.
When it comes to Analysts, more than anything, you need to be patient.
Next up – our final personality type
Practitioners are leaders – especially in times of crises, this is who you want on your team.
They take immediate action and solve problems fast. They’re driven by goals and results, and make decisions quickly. You’ll find that their communication is usually brief, concise and to the point. Don’t be intimidated by their domineering Alpha body language – that’s just how they operate. Be aware however, that these are people who like to be and feel in control. They’re impatient, and they need things to happen fast. Naturally, this can also lead to mistakes, but practitioners keep going no matter what.
They start from where they are and do what they can with what they have.
Another flipside to this approach however, is that they are not good at utilizing other people’s strengths, and because of their communication they can come across as brutish and harsh.
So when you meet a practitioner in the market place make sure that you give them control and only nudge them whenever it is appropriate. Be sure to provide quick and clear answers to their questions and get back to them quickly. If you can get to the finish line before the deadline, the practitioner will think the world of you.
The key to getting the practitioner to buy your services is to talk in terms of goals and results and demonstrate seriousness when it comes to reaching them. There can be no fluffing about with a practitioner. They want results and they want them yesterday!
Let me know what your experience is with the different personality types in the comments.
Oh, and be sure to let me know which one you identify the most with.