business. The people you interact with each day send you signals, and if you
learn what to look and listen for, each person will tell you exactly how to
effectively work with him.
Everyone experiences the same basic human
needs—results, recognition, regimentation and relationships—with some holding
more dominance than others. Depending on the weight placed on each need, people
differ in personality.
So what is there to read?
Dozens of signals—verbal, vocal
and visuals—tell you when to speed up or slow down, when to focus on the details
or when to work on building the relationship. But, because people are different,
the same technique won’t always work.
Human Behavior Has Two Dimensions
When people act and react—with verbal, vocal and visual actions—in social situations,
they exhibit clues to their behavioral style. Identifying that is possible by
classifying a person's behavior on two dimensions: openness and directness.
Open vs. Guarded: Openness is the readiness and willingness with which a person
outwardly shows emotions or feelings and develops interpersonal relationships.
Others commonly describe open people as being relaxed, warm, responsive,
informal and personable. They tend to be relationship-oriented, and in
conversations with others, they share personal feelings and tell stories and
anecdotes. They tend to be flexible about time and base their decisions more on
intuition and opinion than on hard facts and data. They also are likely to
behave dramatically and to give you immediate nonverbal feedback in
Guarded individuals, on the other hand, commonly are seen as
formal and proper. They tend to be more aloof in their interpersonal
relationships. They are more likely to follow the letter of the law and try to
base their decisions on cold, hard facts. Guarded people are usually very
task-oriented and disciplined about time. As opposed to open people, they hide
their personal feelings in the presence of others.
Direct vs. Indirect: Now consider the second dimension—directness. This refers to
the amount of control and forcefulness that a person attempts to exercise over
situations or other people.
Direct people tend to “come on strong,” take the social initiative and
create a powerful first impression. They are fast-paced people, making swift
decisions and taking risks. They easily become impatient with others who cannot
keep up with their fast pace. They are active people who do a lot of talking and
appear confident and dominant. Direct people express their opinions readily and
make emphatic statements.
On the opposite end of that spectrum, indirect people
give the impression of being quiet and reserved. They seem to be supportive and
easy-going, and they tend to be security-conscious—moving slowly, meditating on
their decisions and avoiding risks. They ask questions and listen more than they
talk. They reserve their opinions and make tentative statements when they must
take a stand.
When directness is combined with openness, it forms four
different, recognizable and habitual behavioral styles: the socializer, the
director, the thinker and the relater.
Socializer: Open and Direct
The socializer exhibits such characteristics as animation, intuitiveness and
liveliness. He is an idea person—a dreamer—but can be viewed as manipulative,
impetuous and excitable when displaying behavior inappropriate to a particular
The socializer is a fast-paced person with spontaneous actions and
decisions. He is not concerned about facts and details, and tries to avoid them
as much as possible. This may prompt him at times to exaggerate and generalize
facts and figures. He thrives on involvement with people and usually works
quickly and enthusiastically with others.
The socializer always seems to be
chasing dreams, but he has the uncanny ability to catch others up in his dreams
because of his good persuasive skills. He always seems to be seeking approval
and pats on the back for his accomplishments and achievements. The socializer is
a very creative person who has that dynamic ability to think quickly on his
Director: Direct and Guarded
The director exhibits firmness in his
relationships with others, is oriented toward productivity and goals and is
concerned with bottom-line results. Closely allied to these positive traits,
however, are the negative ones of stubbornness, impatience, toughness and even
A director tends to take control of other people and situations
and is decisive in both his actions and decisions. He likes to move at an
extremely fast pace and is very impatient with delays. When other people can't
keep up with his speed, he views them as incompetent. The director’s motto: “I
want it done right, and l want it done now.”
The director is typically a high achiever who exhibits very good administrative skills.
He likes to do many things at the same time. He keeps adding on until the pressure
builds to such a point that he turns his back and lets everything drop.
Then he turns right around and starts the whole process over again.
Thinker: Indirect and Guarded
The thinker is a persistent, systematic problem-solver. But he also can be seen
as aloof, picky and critical. A thinker is very security-conscious and has a
strong need to be right. This leads him to an over-reliance on data collection.
In his quest for data he tends to ask many questions about specific details.
The thinker works slowly and precisely by himself and prefers an intellectual work
environment that is organized and structured. He tends to be skeptical and likes
to see things in writing.
Although he is a great problem-solver, the thinker is
a poor decision-maker; he may keep collecting data even beyond the time when a
decision is due.
Relater: Open and Indirect
The relater is unassertive, warm, supportive and reliable. However, the relater sometimes
is seen by others as compliant, soft-hearted and acquiescent. The relater seeks security and
belongingness and, like the thinker, is slow at taking action and making
decisions. This procrastination stems from his desire to avoid risky and unknown
situations. Before he takes action or makes a decision, he has to know how other
people feel about it.
The relater is the most people-oriented of all four
styles. Having close, friendly, personal and first-name relationships with
others is one of the most important objectives of the relater’s style.
The relater dislikes interpersonal conflicts so much that he sometimes says what he
thinks other people want to hear rather than what is really on his mind. The
relater has tremendous counseling skills and is extremely supportive of other
people. He also is an incredibly active listener. Because a relater listens so
well to other people, when it comes his turn to talk, people usually listen.
This gives him an excellent ability to gain support from others.
Learning to identify these four distinct personality types by their behavior takes time, but
evaluating people’s behavior within this framework can help you better
understand others and yourself.