Behavior Styles – Why Is The Other Person Such A Jerk?

Part 5 – Change Management Consideration Series

See Part 1 – Change Management – What Is It?

See Part 2 – The Nature of People – How Does It Affect What We Do?

See Part 3 – Perceptions – The Unreal Truths

See Part 4 – Culture – This Is How We Do Things

We all have met someone whom we liked instantly. We have also met people that are just the opposite. Either way, these feelings are a part of our behavioral style intuition. We all, subconsciously, seek out others who have a similar style to our own, and we can all tell, again subconsciously, who has such a style and who doesn’t. Having the knowledge to predict the interaction problems we may encounter with other people provides us with a basis for improving the quality of our interactions.  This improvement in our “situational awareness” gives us the ability to better control the outcomes of our interactions with others. (refer to the Group Atlantic article “Situational Awareness: Managing the Hidden Rules of Engagement”)

There are two behavioral characteristics that interact to define the four basic behavior styles we have (refer to Figure 1):

  1. Assertiveness – the amount of control one person tries to exert over other people in a situation.
  2. Responsiveness – the readiness with which a person expresses emotions and develops friendships.
Figure 1: Behavior Styles

There are specific behaviors we can observe in people to help us determine their general or primary behavior style (refer to Figure 2).

Figure 2: Behavior Style Characteristics

Our behavior style (refer to Figure 2) is based on other people’s perceptions of us, not on how we see ourselves. There is no good or bad style, it is only what it is.

Analyticals are people who are less assertive and less responsive. They are emotionally restrained and rarely compliment others or get excited. They are organized and systematic. They crave data — the more the better. They are slow decision makers because they want to make sure they have carefully weighed all the facts.

Amiables are people who are less assertive and more responsive. They are friendly and generous with their time and are excellent team players. They aren’t flamboyant creators, but rather diligent, quiet workers who do what’s asked of them.

Expressives are people who are more responsive and more assertive. They are friendly and empathetic like amiables but aren’t as low-key about it. Flamboyant, energetic, and impulsive, they are the most outgoing of the Behavior Styles.

Drivers are people who are more assertive and less responsive. They are decisive, task-oriented, and they focus intently on the job at hand. In conversations, they get right to the point. They are purposeful and energetic, just as expressives. But expressives are concerned about people as human beings. For drivers, there’s no time for such concerns.

When different styles are forced together to discuss issues or pursue a common goal, problems arise that, as discussed in Part 2 – The Nature of People – How Does It Affect What We Do,  cause Self-2 to start up the chemical factory (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Behavior Style Conflicts

Brian is an analyst and is meeting with Nick, his project manager. Brian’s predominant behavior style is Amiable. He is very responsive to people and not very assertive. Brian’s style is to take a problem and slowly, thoroughly, and precisely develop logical steps to a solution while testing the steps along the way. If he doesn’t have a clear and precise problem definition, he creates a logical one based on his perceptions.

Nick, however, is a Driver. He is very task oriented and highly assertive. He is not interested in detail and is impatient, authoritative, and very aggressive. He expects people to catch on quickly and do as he wishes without question.

Practically any question Brian would ask in their meeting would be met by Nick with impatience and frustration, since he would typically feel he had already told Brian all he needs to know.  Nick doesn’t really know any details – he is a big picture guy, so Brian’s detailed questions will make Nick feel inadequate. He will dismiss Brian’s struggle for detail – they both go away from the meeting with various levels of frustration and serious misgivings about the others’ competence.

In order to work together and communicate openly, one or both needs to adjust their behavior style. Behavior Flexing affords us a way to accomplish this.

Jim Stanton

Jim Stanton is the founder of Perception Management, Inc., and the creator of the Perception Analysis Methodology (PAM), a non-invasive process for the discovery and validation of the ‘ground truth’ in organizations. Jim has 51 years of experience in improving technology utilization, team building, and managing change. As COO of a $1.1B company, he reengineered global operations saving $45M annually driving internal growth revenues to $3.2B over 8 years. Jim founded 3 successful consulting firms and is an advisor to several CIOs, CEOs and start-up companies. His early career was as a physicist/mathematician developing guidance equations for the first moon landing that led to a strong focus on 'cause and effect' management approaches that work. He is certified in ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), CoBit (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology), Change Management (ODR), and Process Reengineering (CSC Index).

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  1. […] we do and how we do it is affected by our behavior style. In Part 5 –  Behavior Styles, we look at how the culture gets contaminated and why it is viewed so differently by different […]