If I knew then, what I know now….
When my daughter was a teenager, I repeatedly would give her lots of information when she asked to do something and I didn’t want her to. One time my husband said, “Why don’t you just tell her no?” Well, I wanted her to ‘want to’ make the ‘right’ decision. Since then I’ve learned that I was driving her crazy with all the information and she probably felt manipulated and then even more resistant. Oh how great it would have been if I could have gracefully, yet firmly said ‘no’ rather than just giving information!
In another instance, I could never figure out why she didn’t want me to teach her how to do things like laundry or cooking or just about anything. I thought she was just being rebellious and stubborn and I even felt hurt. But I just today discovered that if I had known about the Interaction Style lens 30 plus years ago, I would have realized that my Behind-the-Scenes style was wanting her to get the best result possible and was taking too long. As one of our participants in a course session said today, “I want to tell people, ‘Just make the words go faster!’” And my daughter confirmed that that is the issue behind our conflict. Her In-Charge style wanted to get the job done, not learn all the ins and outs of how the washing machine worked. Now granted, there was probably a bit of teenage drive to establish her own independence, but now I think it was mostly a mismatch of Interaction Styles. If I had understood that I might have not have felt as if I wasn’t being a good mother.
Another story from my first experiences having employees to ‘manage.’ I found myself making the same mistakes I did with my daughter about giving directions. I simply didn’t give them. I basically just informed them about something and expected them to take action. And this was even after I knew about the Interaction Style differences.
In one instance, one employee who knew about Interaction Styles explained to a new employee that I wanted him to do something with all the information I was providing to him and the new employee said he knew that. Well, her style was In-Charge and his was Behind-the-Scenes and it seemed he could read the subtleties of my informing style, especially because he tended to communicate in the same way. If I had applied my own knowledge to the situation, I would probably have been able to shift my language to be sure he understood and so the other person didn’t feel the need to interpret, which sort of put the new employee down.
In another instance, I remarked to one of my employees that I needed to get a new office chair. I came home from a trip and she had found 2 at an auction and bought them. Now it would probably help to know that her preferences were ESFJ, with a Get-Things-Going, Informing Style and wanting to help, she ‘misread’ my information as a request when it wasn’t. I never told her about the chairs and we used them, so she didn’t know it wasn’t what I wanted. It did save me time and was a good buy, but they weren’t really what I wanted. So I needed to learn to not just state some information without being clear that it was something I wanted people to do. She eventually developed a practice of clarifying if some information was something I wanted her to do. But, in reality, I wish I had broken the habit and flexed my own communication more to be a better manager.
If I had it to do over again, I’m hoping I would take into account that my Informing preference was not effective with all people and that I would at least remember to learn to gracefully shift to a more Directing or at least a blended communication style.
Learning about Interaction Styles has taught me and others so much about how to be more effective in communicating and in relating. So some good lessons learned.
I’m so glad that David Keirsey shared his observations that some types tend to be more Role Directing and others tend to be more Role Informing. And then he added that some are more Initiating than Responding in their communications. That enabled me to make a matrix and then recognize the Interaction Styles patterns that has turned out to be a very useful way to introduce people to individual differences without the complexities of 16 types or a focus on the separate dichotomies (that can be misleading).
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