My 2+ granddaughter makes it clear when I can sing along and when I am to be silent. I discern that compliance is required.
Discernment enhances inter-personal relations and effective leadership. This is wrapped up in an approach that I call DISCerning Communication.
The concept incorporates behavioural preferences. Questions about the value and validity of classifying behavioural styles have been raised.
Reference to an analogy of clothing preferences puts the issue into correct perspective. In reality, behavioural preferences are directly equivalent to our taste in clothes. We can put on or take off shades at will. At the same time, our library of photos will reveal a shade preference.
I have a preference for wearing blue. However, a pitfall would be to label me as a blue-shirt man. I am not wed to blue and wear other colours.
It is beneficial for the clothing store owner to know that there are people who have a preference for blue so as stock accessories and variations to satisfy them. However, it would be an error to confine their dealings with me to only items of blue. I might be seeking to diversify my wardrobe or could be encouraged to try on something new.
The fundamental principle is the need to separate the behaviour from the person.
The store owner should handle demonstrated blue shirt preference by showing things that go along with blue shirts. However, she should treat theindividual with an open mind, not knowing what they might want this time. Once the customer indicates a preference then the owner should roll out the things that are best suited to that style.
This approach dramatically improves the capacity of the store owner to satisfy customers. She identifies the cross-section of preferences that she will serve and works out how to best serve the needs of each preference. She does not need to be concerned that customers might have complex tastes. She focuses on learning to discern when a preference that she has classified is displayed and roll out her tested strategy for satisfying the identified needs.
Now, it could be that in a single encounter, the customer displays different – even conflicting – preferences. That is fine. Be clear about which preference is being addressed at any point in time and present the solution that meets those needs. Then move to the next.
The challenge we have created with behavioural classifications comes from the need to affix labels on others. The store staff says here comes blue-preference Trevor and shuts down every other expectation of my behaviour. Then when I am drawn to the flaming red turtleneck there is shock and their faith in the classification concept is dented. Focus on behaviours not on individuals!
Properly defined the behavioural classifications are consistent. People are not. Learn to identify behaviours and how best to respond to or manage them and life’s journey is a lot easier to navigate.
Step 1: Master the descriptors of the classification framework such that you can distinguish among behaviours (not people!).
Step 2: Learn how to get best results in relating to each category in the framework.
Step 3: Discern when each category is being displayed and apply the ideal strategy from Step 2.
That is the real value of behavioural classifications – facilitating inter-personal relationships. Stapling types as labels on the foreheads of others is misuse.
Avoid relying on “He is X”; “You are Y”; “I am Z” use of classifications!
Inserting the word using makes all the difference in the world. “He is using X” alerts me to use X appropriate responses. I am also open to the possibility that he could shift to using Z at any time and I am flexible to apply suitable Z strategies.
However, the question remains: Is the store owner who invests in having customers fill out a questionnaire that highlights their preferences wasting time and money?
Not at all and here is why.
The store owner soon realizes that the range of preferences could be reduced to a manageable number of classifications. For simplicity here, she realizes that at its core her customers have a prevailing preference for variations of red, yellow, green, blue.
She uses that understanding to learn everything about relating to the nuances of each category (colour) and meeting their needs. She figures that showing blue might attract my interest but the minute I signal I am into red today, she rolls out her red sales plan.
The beauty of behaviour-based discernment is that the owner has the flexibility to deal effectively with both old and new customers. She discerns what’s going on with each customer in this moment and acts accordingly. DISCerning Communication works!
Next time, we discuss the value of behavioural classification frameworks in leading others.
Ask about the SHRM-accredited 3-D Leader Certification: Dealing with Difficult People. Earn SHRM Professional Development Credits.
The next cohort of the ICF/SHRM accredited Certified Behavioural Coach Award is January 2016.
Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.