Effective Leadership communication is not just in your words, but in how they are wielded. Recognition of the personality type you are attempting to interact with is an important communication tool.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”– Sun Tzu
No one who accomplishes anything avoids an attack. How you handle those attacks impacts your success and your wellbeing. Today’s article mulls over some thoughts from a recent book, that I found profound enough to share with you. The book Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion, Updated Edition, outlines three personality types to recognize for more effective leadership communication. Authors, George J Thompson and Jerry B Jenkins advocate transforming confrontations into effective exchanges by recognizing and adapting to a personality type. The first of the three personalities is perhaps the easiest to deal with.
Kind or cooperative people tend to work with others nicely. They complain less, are willing to work with you and believe in the law and in structure. Making a scene is worse to them than sticking up for their rights. Cooperative subordinates don’t need a lot of maintenance, but treat them well anyway. Their common goal approach, without your encouragement, could transition into disengagement and eventually dissention.
The Subversive Coward
Also sometimes referred to as a wimp or weasel, the coward’s personality is subversive. When facing you and your instructions, a coward’ responses sound positive. They may say something like “that’s a great idea” or “Can’t wait to get to it!” Subversive Cowards can be customers or colleagues who pretend to your face that everything is great. Behind your back they are telling your boss, friends or others how dissatisfied they are with your work.
If the coward is a subordinate, he may undermine your project idea or approach. But a coward can also be the neighbor who doesn’t tell you that your flower bed encroaches on their property. They just file a complaint with the city. Cowards don’t face you directly, but undermine you by quietly sniping to co-workers, classmates or anyone else who will listen.
It is important to confront a cowardly coward head on. In a work or classroom situation, you can say something like “Excuse me, what did you say? I didn’t catch that.” The point of calling them out publicly is not to ridicule or embarrass them, it is to clear the air. By identifying and calling Cowards out, you force them to either respond directly or shut up. Cowards may apologize to your face, but continue to undermine you at every opportunity, so watch them even after confrontation. Ignoring them allows discontent to fester and spread.
The Difficult Person
We’ve all dealt with the type. They are confrontational, fussy people who question everything. Difficult people are also tough to work with – unless you know how to approach them. Unlike friendly people, difficult people are uncooperative. If they are not happy with your instructions, their go-to response is “why?”. “Why” shows either an active mind, or an insubordinate attitude.
People rarely say what they really mean. If difficult people challenge your authority, what they really want to know is what’s in it for them?. The secret to dealing with this personality type is to use that knowledge to enhance their productivity.
When dealing with a difficult person, get faster project cooperation by telling him upfront how he profits from the assignment. Explain that if he completes the assignment, he gets a bonus or receives recognition. Whatever the benefit of cooperation, divulging it upfront saves time and arguments.
Asking “why” has become the American way. If you understand that, you can use the opportunity to explain why the assignment is in their best interests. When asked “Why should I do this?” the best answer isn’t: “Because we pay you to do it.” A better answer would be, “Because team beta is waiting for you to finish so they can begin their work.” You have just motivated the difficult person and strengthened your team.
Establishing Effective Leadership Communication
Just as emotional wounds stay with you, they remain with others. By choosing your words and your tone carefully, you can create loyalty and trust, while you cultivate your negotiation skills. By learning to recognize the personality type you are dealing with, you’ll strengthen the effectiveness of your leadership communication exchanges.
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