I had a consult with an international company that is losing people due to diversity issues manifesting themselves as lack of respect. I’m guessing it may even go farther than that. They thought using our DISC workshop could help with understanding. We agree, but think other attributes are equally if not more so important. What I shared with them was what we have learned over the years.
We have spent a fair amount of effort trying to understand why communication, understanding, acceptance and valuing can be sometimes catastrophic. Behavior was our first stop and it has proven valuable helping people understand how their own behavioral style invokes an emotional response to people with very different behavioral styles and even more important, how their behavioral style invokes emotional responses from others, both positive and negative. With that understanding, a person can adapt to others that are different to minimize the emotional response that so often gets in the way. Quite often that can be enlightening and foster change in a team.
Behavior is only one part in conversation and understanding. Behavioral assessments are great tools because they are so easily understood. There are many assessment variations based on the four basic behavior styles. Your style can be identified as a bird, an animal, a color, a piece of jewelry, and I imagine many more. All of those have pretty simplistic style descriptions and designed to show that we are different and that diversity is not only ok, but can make us better as a team. Having that knowledge gives us the option to interact with others in a manor more appropriate to their behavioral styles, lessening a negative emotional reaction and allowing clearer understanding and acceptance.
Understanding your own behavioral style and an ability to read other styles and adapt to them productively has proven over the years to be a great team productivity enhancer. But behavior is really the tip of the iceberg. Other things can get in the way. One of those being attitudes. Accumulated over your lifetime your attitudes, driven by your passions, are due to exposure to your family life, your community, your associations and groups, all areas that make up your experience and culture. For some, individual attitudes can be extreme in both a positive or a negative way. You may be broadly aware of what you are passionate about, the driver of your attitudes, but unaware of how it unrealistically affects your perception of others as well as how you treat them. In a recent conversation with one of our instructors she told me she was having a difficult time with a colleague that had a synergistic behavioral style. Once they discovered their attitude in the economic realm was at polar opposites, they were able to respect each other’s position and have a better dialog through understanding and debate as opposed to arguing.
We have also become very interested in how information processing influences our biases creating understanding challenges that affect our understanding, acceptance, judgement and trust. All of these affect our ability to effectively communicate and value others.