Family can bring out the best and the worst in us!
Why is it that what is touted as the “most wonderful time of the year” can bring on such angst and anxiety? According to psychologist Leonard Felder, author of When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People, “most Americans experience significant tension at one or more family events each year.” Felder found, in a random sample of more than 1,350 people, 75% had at least 1 family member who gets on their nerves (Trespicio, CNN). At least 1? Try 5 or 6!
The holiday season means different celebrations for people, but it always means togetherness, family, and a haul of interactions leading people to fall into two groups as they anticipate the holidays: those who struggle or those elated. With expectations set to have a wonderful time, different personalities, and overall heightened emotions, the holidays emphasize that struggle. How we react to those situations (naughty or nice?) stems from the core layers and building blocks of our personalities.
During the holidays with large groups of people around, understanding ourselves and others comes in handy. While it isn’t practical to start teaching emotional intelligence to each member of your family, slowing down a little to learn how to better understand the people in your life can make for a much happier holiday.
When we start to better understand what aspects of personality drives our loved-ones’ behavior, we can adapt our own behavior to allow more effective interaction, and put it in the right perspective. For example, maybe your mom’s thorough detail-orientation for decorating the house drives you nuts. Why can’t she be like your sister who just takes the decorations and gets it done? But they do things 2 different ways, and approaching both your sister and your mom the same way will be ineffective. It is helpful to know who we’re dealing with, what drives their behavior, and therefore how to improve communication skills.
Having an insightful handle on different personalities, not just family dynamics, is invaluable. That insight will help you adapt to improve interactions, not just around the holiday dinner table but in every aspect of your professional/personal life. In the corporate world, having a positive, fruitful interaction with coworkers or clients begins with knowing who they are as people and their motivators. How effective could the sales and marketing be if they harnessed the knowledge of personality to improve communication skills for sales people and business sales techniques?
American automobile executive Lee Iacocca said it best: “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”
Everyone has a core personality formed by the basic principles or nature, nurture, and a combination of the two. While we cannot change our personality, we can grow an acute awareness of who we are, and our nuances. To understand others, the first step is understanding ourselves. Do you accurately know your personality profile? Think about where yourself and others fall on the DiSC personality map below. Start looking at stressful holiday situations differently and they will change. Aim to understand, not escape.
“…we need to know our own personality, as well as others’ personality. That is, the characteristics of each and how to flex our styles for more effective interaction and communication.” (The Art of The Nudge, pg. 73)
Nudge: Whether you are naughty or nice, gather and communicate mindfully to make the most of your holidays.
Other Points of View
Online news publication VISTA Today sees the impact of their company story
So what do we do? VISTA Today is an online news publication founded by Ken Knickerbocker that celebrates Chester County, Pennsylvania’s quality of place and economic health. They publish positive, concise summaries of the county’s assets: its commerce, cultural, and community news and events. VISTA Today covers events shaping the county, driving economic development, and redefining what it means to live and work in Chester County.
Allison Snavely, VP of Sales, began her conversations with that informative, yet garden-variety spiel when meeting with local companies about being affiliate partners with the publication. She says, “I realized I had gotten stuck in the rut of “who we are and what we do”. It felt inauthentic. It felt like selling.” But that’s how most sales conversations go. We’re all familiar with the “what we do and why you should buy us” format. We’ve grown accustomed to this method of selling the product or service and gaining buy in.
Ken Knickerbocker knew there had to be a different, more compelling way to help people understand who VISTA Today is and what they can do for their affiliate partners. He engaged CI Squared’s story team and through the targeted story gathering and building process, the story of why-not just how-VISTA Today was created, was mapped for the staff to use as a tool to market, sell, and communicate the vision.
Allison changed the conversation by integrating the replicable story into her sales meetings. “I changed my approach. I began each conversation with VISTA Today’s company story: “Ken Knickerbocker fell in love with the news when at the age of 10 he started delivering, collecting and selling newspapers at the dump to earn some pocket money…etc” and saw the difference in my interactions and connections immediately. People connected to the “why” on a deeper level. This story and unique format for telling was the missing piece.”
By utilizing their story over the past year, VISTA Today has seen tremendous growth in their number of subscribers, affiliate partners and relationships. Not only did the amount Allison was able to ask for in each partnership double, but the number of new and renewing affiliate partnerships grew by a similar amount, effectively tripling sales over the same eight month period the previous year.
But differentiating VISTA Today with this story is not magic. Allison realized, “It takes practice. There’s an art to effective storytelling and the information you have to give. I modify what I emphasize in the story depending on who I talk to, making sure to engage them and form the right connection.” While everyone tells a story in a different way, an official company story aligns each teller with the correct information in a structured format that they can modify depending on the situation.
Allison even recalls a few meetings where potential partners connected to specific themes or parts of the story and talked about their own stories and why they do what they do. “They sit up in their seat and tell me about their first job delivering newspapers and how it established an entrepreneurial spirit in them too, just like Ken. There, an authentic connection is made, a value is shared and they’re more likely to partner with us.”
The building and utilization of a company’s story is an invaluable tool that establishes authentic relationships, controls and emphasizes your brand and differentiates your company in a compelling and memorable way.
VISTA Today’s company story connects the seller and the prospect and sets the stage for a foundational relationship, authentic trust and potential partnership that benefits both VISTA Today and the affiliate partner. Allison muses, “We’re all too close to our own story to tell it effectively. Everyone needs help telling it, even storytellers. What better way to talk about VISTA Today, a positive storytelling platform, than through story?”
What can Whale sharks and Great Whites teach us?
The start of the new third quarter and second half of the year is an ideal time to identify changes necessary for a monumental second half. What has gone well and what needs to be tweaked is worth time and reflection. Some people feel uneasy when facing the year-end deadlines… cue the shark music… because they subconsciously know this is the last chance for changes to influence 2017 performance. Taking a break to evaluate how you’ve met goals personally and professionally can be the difference-maker between sink and swim.
Even the big sharks have to pivot to stay relevant and achieving in current climates. Think about this:
- Amazon just announced hiring 50,000 new warehouse employees in the United States
- Apple’s main supplier Foxconn is making substantial change by committing to a large factory and 3,000 new hires in Wisconsin
- A declining Sears franchise has finally struck a deal to sell appliances through Amazon
These are significant improvements, innovations and changes with an expectation of adding shareholder value, increased revenue profits, customer satisfaction and employee engagement. These positive business results sustain life in a company, just as the water that must be constantly pulled over a shark’s gills provides oxygen.
Simon Berg of Ceros wrote, “If you don’t change things (experiment), how can you ever make things better (find out the outcome of your test)? You don’t have to know what the results will be to make a change. In fact, you usually won’t know what outcome to expect. That’s the compelling thing about change–you often end up with a result you would have never guessed. …It’s about making change when something feels broken, could be better, or even just because you’re curious.”
Certain breeds of sharks die from lack of oxygen if they stop swimming. Implicitly, we know change is a good thing but does fear of change stop us from swimming? Simply pause, evaluate and adapt.
Don’t look back and don’t get comfortable with the status quo. We hesitate when faced with the unknown in front of us because of the comfort associated with our experiences and biases. Inherently, change is necessary and provides challenges and new circumstances. CI Squared’s book The Art of the Nudge tells us: “At the subconscious level, we are already programmed to do the thing we are doing, and it becomes automatic. We have a lot of connections, experiences, and repetitions that make it simple and easy to do. So we are afraid of new things. Our conscious brain puts up blockages; reasons about what could go wrong; and just plain feels uncomfortable.” (pg 43)
We know change is vital and possible, but don’t change for the sake of change. Change-your thinking, a process, a department-to make something better. “Although your automatic reaction comes first from the subconscious brain, you can bypass that wiring with a new story that empowers you to take a different action…We also believe that understanding the story we are telling ourselves to see whether it is empowering us to take the appropriate action, is important. And if it’s not, the story can be nudged. Although our brain connections (superhighways or dirt roads) are developed as we grow, they can be altered.” (The Art of the Nudge pg 47)
What kind of shark do you want and need to be? Do you know what stories you are telling yourself about the changes you need to make to impact your business results in the second half? How can you build a new story that will keep you swimming toward your goals without sinking to the bottom?
Nudge: Stop, slow down and evaluate what in your company or business could benefit from change in the second half of the year.
What am I doing wrong?
Have you ever asked yourself why things aren’t changing for you, whether personally or professionally? You’ve done everything you can think of to change direction, but you always end up back at square one. But maybe it’s just that: changing how you think. Whether we know it or not, our subconscious is perpetually at work, feeding us biases and stories. Stories inform emotions, emotions inform actions.
Our conscious brain, what we are actively thinking about, opposes the subconscious brain, what’s going on beneath the surface. The conscious brain methodically deals in facts and figures and can process only up to 9 things at a time while our subconscious brain is a messy composite of deeply influential experiences and emotions, processing millions of ideas simultaneously. This is both fascinating and frightening as we realize that the subconscious could be a great enabler and deciding factor in our actions and thoughts. Story informs your actions 100% of the time, you’re simply not aware of it.
You’re always having a conversation with yourself which results in stories being formed. So stories surround us, but the five stories that are most likely to hold you back professionally or personally are:
- The self doubt story. People will know that I’m not good enough or smart enough. These negative stories pile on top of each other until we perceive it as the truth.
- The fear of failure story. A story of a past mistake repeats itself. You’re afraid to try something new because you can’t shake the notion that it will go wrong.
- The unknown story. Change is hard, so we fear the unknown and our possible inability to handle it. But you are more capable than you know.
- The assumptions story. We all assign meaning to people’s behaviors and interpret their actions. Our minds have a way of spiraling out on us. We can’t assume just because Bob didn’t wave to me at work today like he normally does that he is furiously angry at me.
- The overconfidence story. You say “I got this. I have it all figured out”. We tell ourselves what we want to happen and hear versus what is happening in reality. Our confidence and judgments sometimes cloud our ability to make the right decisions.
80% of what you said to yourself yesterday, you say to yourself today. You have to engage your conscious brain to first realize that these stories are being told before you can identify what stories are being told. Story creates bias, that bias instructs our behaviors. Start digging deep and figure out the stories you are telling yourself that are holding you back.
Nudge: Tell yourself a new story of positive change!
Other points of view: