You’re So Smart!
Not really. Well, yes. I’m smarter than the average bear. Yet what makes me good at what I do has little to do with intelligence—it’s about paying attention.
Our behavior is observable—it’s behavior—duh. Your word choice, tone, rate of speech and body language are all observable. If you pay attention to those things you can use determine the best way to communicate with anyone, anywhere.
Ask yourself two simple questions:
- Does this person prefer people or tasks?
- Is this person introverted or extroverted?
Before I go any further let’s also clarify that being “introverted’ doesn’t mean that you don’t like people. It simply means that you get your energy when you are alone, quiet—if you were a laptop this is you “plugged in.” All those introverts can function in society yet when they are with others they can last only so long on the battery pack. We all know that our battery lasts a long time when we first buy a laptop and they slowly dwindle from there. As for extroverts—it’s the opposite. They can be perfectly happy being alone but that’s when they are on the battery pack. They need to be around other people to get their energy back—and plug in.
And here’s why you care:
- 2 employees that cannot seem to work together
- Your spouse, kids, family
- Landing the big fish
- And in general just being the person that people like to talk to, buy from and interact with because you get them regardless of who they are, where they come from or what they want
Determining the introvert or extrovert is a bit easier. Talks faster, lots of body language, eye contact, maybe more volume, varied tone, big stories, easy to engage—all extrovert. Introvert—minimal hand gestures, limited range in tone, less words, listen more than talks, appears to be thinking, waits for you to finish what you say.
People or tasks—listen to what they talk about. Do they reference a need for more information or another person’s opinion? What part of a project do they ask questions about—the process or the people involved? When they talk about people—how do they talk about them? Do they speak to theory, evidence, research, what they read or their gut, intuition, opinion?
These are the things I pay attention to. The more you do it the easier it gets. Then I apply it. I increase my body language if that person needs to “feel” my warmth. I ask questions to draw out others or shut up letting others talk and talk and talk (they tend to answer their own questions). I give a client more or less time when following up with them. I write shorter or lengthier emails. I modify my behavior.
I was training some fitness professionals recently. We had completed their DISC assessments in advance of the training. We began by talking about what DISC was, then reviewed the 4 styles—Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness and Compliance. We talked about each of their types and then I let them have free reign to ask questions. Two of the people with high I factors started talking about how it “was so them. How could this tool understand them?” They shared their own examples of how they behaved and the information resonated. Then one of the people with a high D asked for examples, “What does this mean? What would this look like?” I then went back and highlighted specific questions they had each asked, things they had done and referred to their specific behaviors from the previous hour. The person who asked the question dialed back—she saw her own behavior even in that smallest bit of time, not planned, not planted and how what I observed matched exactly what was on the assessment in front of her. She was sold, she saw the results.
So, it’s not so much that I am smart. I simply pay attention. I watch people all the time. In stores and restaurants, the more you do it the easier it gets. The more you understand others, the more you understand yourself. And then you can look really smart too!