One of the most experienced and highly regarded leadership consultancies in the USA has studied the science of behavior for decades. The partners of SSCA describe themselves as behavioral consultants and frequently refer to six distinctly different personality types.
When we understand these six types and how they influence our interactions with others, we can be more effective in communicating. That can be a vital aspect of great teamwork.
In world of ballroom dancing, we are made up of teams of two. Each dancer is partnered, perhaps only for a couple of minutes, with someone else with the goal of producing beautiful harmony in movement. The partnerships might be made up of people who have widely different personality types. Indeed, these variations can sometimes lead to the most exciting partnerships. Getting there can involve training and practice, which means we are typically partnered with one person for a lot longer than a single dance. And in doing so, we can contribute to the growth of the partnership or potentially tear it apart.
Most people are a composite of different personality types. We aren’t entirely in any one of the six groups, but have different parts and those parts may even change as circumstances in our lives lead to changing needs. According to SSCA, based on material developed by Kahler Communications, the six types are Thinker, Persister, Harmonizer, Imaginer, Rebel, and Promoter. Let’s take a look at each of these and how they might react in partnership situations.
Thinkers are logical, responsible and well organized. They perceive the world through thoughts. They will typically use phrases like “I think it’s a good idea to…” The best way to communicate with them is to use logic, such as describing why a particular action would make the most sense. The challenge with Thinkers is that they can be controlling and aggressive when they have a particular point of view.
Persisters are dedicated, observant and conscientious. They perceive the world through opinion. They will use phrases like “In my opinion…” or “I believe…” Like Thinkers, you need to communicate with them using logic. The challenge with Persisters is that they can push their beliefs very firmly, becoming overly sensitive to negative feedback if they see it as attacking their strongly held opinions.
Harmonizers are compassionate, warm and sensitive to the feelings of others. They perceive the world through emotions. They typically use phrases that refer to feelings, like “I’m feeling so…” They want to be liked so you need to communicate with them by nurturing them with comforting approaches. They will respond very badly to cold, logical explanations. Because they are so focused on being liked, they tend to make more mistakes. It’s important when this happens to be relaxed about such errors, allowing them to feel valued despite the issues they might be causing.
Imaginers are reflective, calm and, as you might expect, imaginative. They see the world through a lens of inaction. They might speak more slowly and be somewhat complacent or relaxed about things like practice. When they do practice, they might approach this time in a casual way, appearing to not be taking it seriously. This can frustrate some of the other personality types who see practice time as a way to accomplish a goal. The best way to communicate with Imaginers is through logic and directive requests, as they can easily become embarrassed or feel inadequate if you show frustration or use emotional appeals.
Rebels can be the life of the party. They are spontaneous, creative and playful. Rebels hate doing things the same way as everyone else. The character of Scott Hastings in Baz Luhrmann’s marvelous 1992 film Strictly Ballroom comes to mind. Rebels perceive the world through reactions. They often use phrases that express enthusiasm and activity. The best way to communicate with Rebels is through emotive requests, appealing to their sense of adventure. The challenge with Rebels is that when things go wrong, they can tend to blame the other party rather than looking to themselves for the source of the problem.
Promoters are resourceful, adaptive and charming. They perceive the world through actions and use active words to motivate others. The best way to interact with promoters is through directive requests, helping them to feel that progress is being made and that goals are being achieved. The biggest challenge with Promoters is that they can set up arguments and manipulate others because of their enthusiasm to move forward.
Each dancer is partnered, perhaps only for a couple of minutes, with someone else to produce harmony in movement.
As I mentioned earlier, most people won’t find themselves entirely in just one of these types, but will have different percentages of two or more types making up their distinct personality. Our job as dance partners, especially when it comes to practice, is to identify those types and help meet the other person’s needs so that we can achieve our goals effectively.
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