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Archive for the ‘Motivators’ Category

Good listening: Listen up! It’s more complex than you knew.

Friday, July 6th, 2012

“Well if you would only listen…” “You never listen to me.” “I told you, but obviously you weren’t listening.”

Ah, listening. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but how often have you heard (or said) complaints like those above? Maybe good listening isn’t so simple after all.

So what makes good listening so complex?

If we look to behavioral styles we can find some clues. Observing behaviors through the lens of DISC helps us see that those who exhibit certain styles are demonstrating patterns that can predict how they listen. Many articles like this one on good listening, “How to be a Good Listener”, frame the advice in terms of modifying the behavior to be more effective.

Let’s look at the core styles in the context of effective listening:

High D‘s are oriented around achieving results, and are not shy about making fast decisions or bringing pressure to bear on a situation. If a conversation does not support the high D’s current agenda then that person may lose interest in the conversation. Being forceful by nature the high D is not hesitant to interrupt or walk away when someone is speaking to them. Their observed behavior prioritizes problem solving over social considerations so unless their D is accompanied by a fairly high I don’t expect the high D to be a patient listener. If you want to keep the high D’s attention make your message short, and to the point. Think bullet points, not back-story.

The high I is typically observed to be talkative, but does a talker make a good listener? Not usually. The high I individual is usually counted among the worst listeners. High I’s tend to seek out a lot of verbal interaction, but their focus tends to be more on the appearance they are making, and their social status rather than paying attention to the content of a conversation. When not the one speaking, the classic high I spends the majority of their time thinking of what they are going to say rather than focusing on and considering what is being said to them. A high I with a low S will be talkative and restless in a conversation – they’ll flit around a cocktail party or networking reception making small talk with everyone, but never sticking around in one conversation long enough to absorb much of the conversation because they’re always spotting someone else they “have to say hello to”.

A low S exacerbates the high I’s weak listening ability, but what kind of a listener is a high S? The high S demonstrates behavior that supports good listening: they tend to avoid confrontation, so they are unlikely to interrupt a speaker; they prefer things to move at a slower, steadier pace, and are reticent to upset the status quo – which means you will seldom see a high S walking away from someone who is in the middle of telling a story (no matter how much that story may go on and on). The high S observes, but doesn’t tend to reveal what they have in mind so their focus tends to be on what the other person is saying rather than emulating the high I’s tendency to be thinking up the next interesting thing to say.

Last but not least we have the high C. If high S’s make the best listeners then high C’s are the second best among the core DISC styles. The high C is process-oriented and attentive to detail. A high C makes use of conversations as a form of information gathering. They are very attentive to details revealed in even a casual discussion and will feel compelled to correct any errors made by the person speaking. These could be errors in facts or grammar, but the net result is that the high C can be perceived as snobby for this behavior. The C applies structure to the act of listening, observing rules of politeness and formality, even parliamentary procedure in a group setting. A high C with a fairly high D may interrupt you, but not because of disinterest, they just may feel they have a more efficient way of harvesting the information in the conversation and may tend to turn a chat into a mild interrogation.

Of course other combinations of DISC behavior scores will reveal more complex listening styles, as well as the individual’s preferences for ways of communicating verbally. A high C will prefer to listen to another high C because of the shared affinity for structured presentation and accurate information. One high I may not be listening to the high I that is speaking to them, but they are together more at ease feeding off of each other’s enthusiasm and energy than that same high I might feel in a discussion with a high S.

Going beyond observable behaviors, values and motivators add more complexity to the art of effective listening. If a listener’s values are similar to those of the speaker, then they will be naturally more interested and likely to listen. If they have opposing values, the listener will have a natural tendency to disregard what the speaker is saying. These tendencies may mitigate or aggravate the listening issues predicted by the behavioral styles of the people in question. Once again we find that the Golden Rule falls a bit short when it comes to communication. The effective communicator doesn’t speak to listeners in the manner that the communicator would like to hear, but rather adapts their communication to the listening style preferences of the audience.

To be a great listener able to traverse conversations with colleagues of multiple behavioral profiles and diverse motivations and values generally requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. The more emotionally mature individual may learn how to overcome poor listening skills by developing more empathy for others, and learning to recognize and adapt their behaviors to better suit the situation. They can then be far more effective at listening than one who has not matured yet and is highly self-centered.

Objective assessments give us the ability to measure all of these factors and can be tremendously valuable in predicting effective listening skills and identifying opportunities to coach individuals in improving this ability. For an example of a well-rounded assessment that can be useful in this manner see this sample report.

Only 37% of Sales Professionals are Consistently Effective

Monday, September 19th, 2011

In a slide show recently published by the Harvard Business Review, researchers Lynette Ryals and Iain Davies present some fascinating and eye-opening findings regarding sales effectiveness. Their study based on observation of 800 sales professionals in actual live sales meetings led them to conclude that only 37% of sales professionals were consistently effective in achieving results.

Their findings categorized the study group into eight classifications of behavior patterns: Socializers, Aggressors, Narrators, Focusers, Storytellers, Consultants, Closers, Experts. According to the study only the last three, Experts, Closers and Consultants, were able to deliver consistent results. Together these three groups comprised just 37% of the sample.

Also of interest were some data points that debunked some “common knowledge” assumptions about what makes a good salesperson. Conventional wisdom and sales folklore point to the socializing sales professional and the hard-driving aggressor as the desirable sales personalities, yet in this study these two groups were the bottom performers. The aggressors could occasionally have a big win, but their performance on average was poor, while the socializers would get caught up in the small talk and not keep the sales pitch in focus.

The authors noted that “a disproportionate amount of training is allocated to presentation and rapport skills, as well as the actual sales pitch” and therefore these skills had become commodified across the field.

We, at Data Dome agree that much of the focus of sales training tends to overlook behavioral issues and instead focus on closing skills and process methodologies. However, as this Harvard study indicates, behaviors are more indicative of sales performance. Hiring salespeople is often an error prone process filled with subjective decisions that can bring disappointing results – just ask the sales managers who hired the Aggressors and Socializers in the study. This is one of the reasons why we encourage the use of behavioral and motivator focused tools to identify candidates with high sales potential. Objective assessments eliminate much of the guesswork whether they’re used as a selection aid during the hiring process or as a development aid to diagnose specific behavior and motivator weaknesses that may lower an individual’s sales success potential. These tools can also be valuable in recommending targeted training for awareness and improvement in these areas.

Motivators – Quick Takes: Bookmarking for Values

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Understanding how people prioritize their values can help in understanding how they make their choices. Just as we do with our World According to DISC series, we like to find ways to demonstrate Workplace Motivators in action. without taking ourselves too seriously. With that in mind let’s take a look at the bookmarks stored in six people’s web browsers….

Theodore the high Theoretical seeks truth and knowledge:
wikiHow – The How-to Manual That You Can Edit
MIT Enterprise Forum
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Science News
National Geographic

Ursula the high Utilitarian/Economic saves time and money:
Mint – Free Personal Finance Software, Budget Software, Online Money Management and Budget Planner | Mint.com
Tungle.me | Scheduling Made Easy
43 Folders | Time, Attention, and Creative Work
Lifehacker, tips and downloads for getting things done
Clark Howard: Save More, Spend Less and Avoid Rip-offs | www.clarkhoward.com

Alvin the high Aesthetic pursues form, harmony and beauty:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Beautiful Pixels : Unhealthy lust for UI design
Fashion net | the insider's guide to all things chic
DailyCandy is a handpicked selection of all that’s fun, fashionable, food related, and culturally stimulating
Fashion – Women's Fashion Magazine -ELLE.com

Samantha the high Social loves people and wants to help:
Facebook
Twitter
FriendFeed
Evite – Invitations, Free eCards and Party Planning Ideas
Care2 – largest online community for healthy and green living, human rights and animal welfare.

Ivan the high Individualistic/Political seeks power, independence and personal gain:
Entrepreneur – Business & Small Business
Robb Report – The Global Luxury Source
FastCompany.com – Where ideas and people meet | Fast Company
Business News & Financial News – The Wall Street Journal – WSJ.com
tompeters! management consulting leadership training development project management

Tammy the high Traditional/Regulatory is firm in her convictions and wants unity and order:
BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages.
YP.COM – Yellow Pages, the new YELLOWPAGES.COM
The Traditional Values Coalition ::: Empowering People of Faith through Knowledge
Knitty is the longest-running free knitting magazine on the web.
Constitution of the United States – Official Site

Did you follow the links? Are some of these in your bookmarks too? Remember, everyone has a mix of values and their priorities can change over time, but combined with understanding DISC profiles they can provide valuable insights for a more productive and harmonious workplace.

Merry Motivators – Holiday Shopping Edition

Monday, December 13th, 2010

While most of our posts here are focused on DISC profiles, DISC alone doesn’t give a complete picture. DISC tells us HOW a person will behave, but values and motivators are essential to understanding WHY they behave they way they do.

In the spirit of our World According to DISC series, let’s take a look at the spectrum of motivators and how they might influence holiday gift giving choices:

The high Theoretical values truth and knowledge, don’t be surprised if their kids find a junior science lab under the tree this year. Got a high Theoretical on your shopping list this year? Delight her with a statuette of Thoth, the Ibis-headed Egyptian god of knowledge or maybe the complete Oxford English Dictionary.

High Utilitarian/Economic people value money and time, things that are useful and practical. Be certain that they will be shopping for the best possible deal and the most efficient use of time. The high Utilitarian grandmother is giving all her grandchildren savings bonds this year getting the bulk of her holiday shopping done in one step. Are you shopping for a high Utilitarian? Consider getting him a membership to Costco or maybe just a nice thermos to carry coffee since he would never waste money at a place like Starbucks.

If you’re a high Aesthetic you are focused on form and harmony, beauty and inner vision. You might not know what you’ll be getting, but you can be sure that the gift from the high Aesthetic will be the most beautifully wrapped one in the bunch. If you’re looking for a great idea for a high Aesthetic consider a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or sign her up for a class in Feng Shui.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the high Social values people. Altruism, empathy and generosity are important to them. It wouldn’t be out of character for a high Social to make a charitable donation in your name. Want to make a high Social happy this season? Lend him a hand when he volunteers at the local soup kitchen’s holiday meal.

High Individualistic/Political types value power and often view others as a means to an end. The high Individualistic/Political might give his boss a new set of golf clubs and a lot of hints about being available for his next power foursome. Want to make a high Individualistic/Political happy? Give her a copy of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”.

Last, but not least we come to the high Traditional/Regulatory who values unity, order and structure. They are likely to be very fixed in their beliefs. Your high Traditional cousin will be going to midnight mass and after will fill his kids’ Christmas stockings with chocolates and candy canes just like he had when he was a kid. If you’re shopping for a high Traditional consider getting her a keepsake ornament for her tree, or, if appropriate for her religion, a finely printed and beautifully bound bible.

As we often do when discussing DISC profiles, we are here in these examples simplifying the motivational profiles to isolate on a single value category. In reality multiple values will be a factor and the lack of motivator in a specific category can also be highly indicative of a person’s priorities.

We hope this post gave you a little insight into the spectrum of values and motivators and maybe an idea or two as you finish up your holiday shopping.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!

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