Shannon told me she was a very accommodating person, always wanting to help: to get along with everyone. It came as a great surprise that her husband Bryan thought she was the b-word. “How could he think that?” she asked. “I always tried to go along with whatever he wanted.” Unfortunately, Bryan’s communication preferences included:
- an aversion to manipulation (which he felt Shannon was doing when she said, “Whatever you want.” instead of stating what she wanted.)
- a dislike for people who were always trying to please or avoid confrontation
- appreciation for very direct communication with no beating around the bush
Shannon had no idea that the communication strategies she was using to make peace were exactly what was driving Bryan away from her. She was dealing with Bryan the way she wanted to be dealt with, not the way he wanted to be dealt with! Two completely different things.
Jason is a very charming person with the best financial results in his region. Even though he is well liked, he has never been promoted. He complained to me that office politics have limited his opportunities and accused his bosses of being jerks who don’t communicate well.
In reality, Jason’s bosses have considered Jason for promotion but decided he…
- was argumentative with leadership and had loyalty issues
- was too concerned about being liked by his team and wouldn’t communicate the importance of accountability
- would side with the employee instead of leadership when it came to profitability
Jason’s boss is “task-focused” in his communications. He appreciated Jason’s “people-focused” communications, but needed Jason to be equally focused on results even when it caused temporary discomfort for his employees. Without that, he feared Jason would never communicate strongly enough to push people to their highest level of competency.
If Jason would have understood the personality-driven differences in communication without condemning them, he could have gotten his promotion much earlier.