The Four Recognizable Types in any Group Discussion in the Office or at Home

Image

Y’know how, when you’re sitting at a meeting or around the table at a family dinner discussion trying to solve something or make a plan, the same people usually speak up or disagree or criticize or say yes or never say anything? Have you ever stopped to think that they actually fall into definable types with predictable behavior? Well, it’s true.

There are 4 basic types present in such human interactions and learning to recognize and categorize them is a key to handling them more productively and solving many log jams where these personalities clash and end up raising the temperature and defeating solutions.

Here’s a lexicon of the four basic types to be found in any meeting or family—wherever people work or live and interact together. See if you can’t recognize these types (and yourself, too!) as you read these:

Based on some creative family research done by Dr. David Kanter for his book Inside the Family:

Here they are:

  • Movers:  initiate action; suggest or develop ideas
  • Opposers:  react to and oppose movers and new ideas
  • Followers:  hook onto others’ ideas, support or “go along”
  • Bystanders:  watch, stay quiet and remain noncommittal

Recognize them? I’ll bet you could even name who is which one in your own group, right?

To help in learning to handle any of them, whether you’re the leader of the group or simply a fellow member, here’s an analysis of each one’s behavior and suggestions of what can work with each one.

MOVERS : These are natural leaders- strong, sure-footed and creative. Often intolerant of others’ ideas, they see their own as the only way forward and get competitive, even aggressive, about that.

OPPOSERS:  These create an instant challenge by blocking the movers’ direction, and yours. Competitive with movers, they get attention and importance by opposing. They refer to getting the “facts” or the “truth” or negate ideas with “we did that before” or “it’ll never work” or (depending on their age) “dumb, boring”.  They can make enemies or hurt feelings. In groups they’re seen as obstacles to progress.

FOLLOWERS: These are not uncreative! They just need to play it safe, waiting to see the group’s attitude before they commit. They may follow either the mover or the opposer for separate reasons.

BYSTANDERS: Interesting characters who need special understanding. Very different from followers, they stay out of the direct action altogether, making no alliance with either side. They watch and keep opinions to themselves, saying (if pressed) “Interesting” or “Have to think about that”.

Each of these is valuable to the group, if handled with understanding. The goal is getting them all on board.

Here are some ways you can accomplish that.

MOVERS are creative, give new ideas and solutions, get the ball rolling and try to get others on board. So—harness them to pull ahead in the right direction. Be careful not to single them out and approve their ideas too soon. Set a course before the mover gets started, explaining exactly what you want. Affirm movers but encourage others, saying you want to hear lots of ideas. If you’re the leader, you’re probably a mover, too. Make room for the others…

OPPOSERS can bring up important issues overlooked by the mover’s enthusiasm. Since they’re willing to test ideas and scrutinize data, they can actually improve a mover’s initiatives. Give them assignments to look into the idea and find out how feasible it is instead of just reacting negatively to them. This gives them recognition and uses their skepticism constructively as well as taking away some of the hostile reactions to their constant opposition.

FOLLOWERS empower others by granting support and creating a “team” which movers (or newly directed opposers) need. Allow followers to find their own level, giving them assignments to help facilitate the project. They can be great as support staff and implementers.

BYSTANDERS are seductive to both movers and opposers since neither knows what bystanders are thinking and want to convince them to sign on. These folks are not that way voluntarily. They’ve been overshadowed or never given the encouragement or training to try a more public role. To help them participate, assign them a specific task without waiting for them to volunteer.

Ask for a private report (“check back with me”) because bystanders are afraid of being judged publicly.

Although meetings take place more regularly in the workplace, you can see the value of getting to know all this for family interactions as well. Consider how helpful it can be in your family discussions and even family arguments to recognize the types you’re dealing with, understand why they are that way and what you can do to help them get on board…

So here’s the bottom line: now that you have an informed, objective way to evaluate and understand who’s sitting across from you and why they do what they do, you’re on your way to being the great diplomat and constructive problem solver. Live. In the moment.

And that’s what really matters — doing it live. Because here’s a big secret– no matter how great your emails and Powerpoints are, you’ll never sell anything –or yourself –without finally doing it live, in person. And since I’ve spent my life teaching others how to communicate in person in this tougher, no-talk texting world,  I’ll be giving you ongoing insights into how to get your message across personally and make people listen to you.

I’ll be posting an ongoing series giving you insights and new approaches to getting your message across and making people sit up and listen to you.

Advertisements

O.K. GLASS, GO GOOGLE!

Sonya Google Glass picSo here it is—a skeptic (me) wearing the Google Glass! Are you aware of what this newest leap into newness can do? Like your smart phone, it can take pictures and video, show your email, conduct searches, use GPS, receive phone calls, share pics with friends and more — faster than a smart phone and all on voice command. And how do you see all this? There’s a little square piece of glass connected to the frame over your right eye. But you don’t have to look up at it—you just look straight ahead and you can read and see anything you ask for!

Of course saying I’m a skeptic makes you now look for reactions: Does it really work? How does it feel? Is it comfortable, easy, fun?  What does it do to you as you wear it? Would you want one?

Well, let’s start by saying it is mind-boggling! I don’t care how sophisticated you are and how many gimmicks you’ve already played with, this one is a lulu. It really does do what I said it did. Just think about the freedom—you’re not holding anything! By just plain looking straight ahead you see whatever you requested. And what a sense of regal power you get when you summon it and say (or bellow) “OK Glass, take a picture” or “ OK Glass, who was Vercingetorix?” (bet you’ll look that one up!) Another goody is that when you take pictures, others are not aware of it, which really matters in foreign countries where there can be bad reactions to the old point and shoot style.  It feels light and totally comfortable on the face and you don’t have to fish for your phone whenever you get a call or to look something up or read emails.

Most of all- it’s such fun! It’s like playing pretend except it works. How many remember the old comics with Dick Tracy’s magic watch that he talked into? One of those is coming soon from Apple, I hear. So the Glass plays right into- actually surpasses -the games we’ve all been playing with the rush of equipment that keeps rolling toward us, topping each other , faster and faster.

OK – the negatives. In the first version you can talk but can’t hear well on phone calls (2nd version already has an ear bud to fix that.) It does get commands wrong and some things are not as easy to access as smartphones. You do have to learn how to do everything on it but some of it is counterintuitive. And of course it’s not yet available to anyone except those who won the first lottery by describing why a Google Glass would be useful, important, meaningful, helpful in their work or lives. And even those lucky winners had to pay $1500 for the privilege of being the first explorers.

But what’s really funny is to scan the internet to read what is being complained about as other negatives. Here are some quotes:

“They can make interacting with someone awkward.” WHAT? And burying your face in a smartphone is conducive to interacting with others???

More “negatives”:

“Makes you question whether the Glass wearer is focusing on you or their ever present screen” Again, have you noticed interactions at restaurant tables or between young people—are they tuned into you or tuned out and into a device??? Also “there’s an ever-present temptation to tune out the world around you.” Well, friends, that’s the daily activity everywhere now as we substitute the interaction with a device for any so- called time consuming one-on-one human contacts.

So far Google is handling the technical negatives in a most creative way. The first group of Glass Explorers is a constant source of feedback and criticism and being built into a special community. They get monthly Glass Support emails with the latest questions and what’s-news and where the Glass hangouts are in their area are.  They send new instructions about what’s now possible as they refine and add onto the systems. And Version 2 is on its way.

Bottom line: Another step away from the atavistic, old,  human systems of communicating personally – verbally, visually,  physically- and onto our next lives as carriers and progenitors of mechanical, robotic, controlled and edited forms of reaching each other. Who knows what permanent effects this will have on the future of our species… But it surely is magic, and fun.

Please be sure to like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and join my LinkedIn network.

Stage Fright

“Whenever I have to make a presentation or speak in public I get so panicky that I even draw a blank as I start to plan it” Sound familiar? You’re in good company.

Did you know that the number one fear of the American public — researched annually for the last 40 years — has been and still is any form of public speaking!It comes up as number one year after year. Amazing.

Actually amazing to me because, since I was a small child, I was always glad to appear in public. To say my piece, play my tune, dance my dance, make my speech — all of it was not only easy and natural for me but also fun! So I have tremendous empathy for folks who find appearing in public to be terrifying and in my adult professional work I’ve not only continued to reach out, connect with and perform for the public but also to teach other people “how-to” — whether in the courtroom, the boardroom or the media.

In an effort to understand why this fear is so rampant and widespread and to help solve it, I’ve studied all aspects of this panic to find out what creates it. And you know what? I’ve found the key ingredients! Understanding and demystifying them can help launch you on the path to erasing them.

So let me share what I learned about how to help folks get over that panic, that stage fright and be able to stand up in public and give that smashing presentation, explain your ideas, and present yourself as you really are, to your best advantage.

Stage fright is really based on a myth. Here it is: somewhere in the world there’s a way to deliver your speech with a perfect 10. You become obsessed with measuring yourself against that perfect “10,” thinking how far below that you’ll fall. This gives birth to an enormous case of “What if I fumble and lose my words?” ” I hate how I look,” “What will my boss (colleagues, clients) think of this — good? Smart? Well-conceived?” You can also add “My mother (father, teacher) always said I mumbled” and “I never liked making a show of myself” and there you’ve got it — Stage Fright!

See — the energy and the focus is all about ME ME ME the speaker, not YOU YOU YOU the people being spoken to. Obsessing on you and your performance — what kind of grade you’ll get, how far off the markyou’ll be. But that’s not what presentations are about! They’re about giving your message to an audience! About explaining, persuading, supporting what information you want to get across to them. About how to make your audience listen. About helping them get your ideas and understand your points, not at all about you and how you’re doing.

So let’s go to the source of this problem. How come so many people get stuck in this trap? Where does it come from?

Well, there are three basic well-springs in our backgrounds:

Childhood — How you communicate starts out embedded in your childhood. You watch others around you in the family and unconsciously try to copy them. But your folks and teachers, in an effort to make you better at it, often criticize how you’re doing it so you start out thinking “there’s a better way and I haven’t done it.” Next comes…

Adolescence — the real killer to self-confidence. Here we introduce the full-length mirror and all the “unacceptable” messages it gives us about our potential for success against our peers. And does the media ever have a field day with telling you how far short you’re falling from the ideal! All this does such a job on how you feel about displaying yourself in public for everyone’s perusal and grading!

Adult Experience — Here’s where your professional and work experience begin to single out what’s admirable and what’s not, what works, who stands out and gets ahead and why. And you start comparing yourself — unrealistically — since you really have no idea how you come across to others. You can only use your own internal insecurities to grade yourself. And you also add some assumptions about how self-confident and competent others appear (though they may not feel that way at all, either!). This dramatically helps you slide up and down, mostly down, on that grade scale. And of course it continues your focus inward, onto you and how you’re doing, and away from outward — towards finding out whatothers care about and how to best tell them your ideas and help them understand you better.

Funny thing is, this insight, this change of focus can get truly get you over stage fright because you’ll get so busy concentrating on capturing your audience, on making them get your message and thinking about the best ways to do that that you stop obsessing about yourself and what kind of grade you’re going to get.

See — the true secret to being a great communicator is understand your audience. Know that people are motivated by self-interest and the key to reaching, persuading, capturing others is to reach out to their self-interest before you get yours met.

So all the self-focus that is the essence of stage fright dooms you to failing in this key pursuit. That’s one of the major reasons to work on this — beyond the sheer business of getting comfortable so your best natural self can come through.

Bottom line: Your sense of self is so often fashioned by illusions — by comparisons and wrong assumptions. And by what other people — and the media — have told you is good and admirable. You gotta drop all that and start focusing first on the job at hand when you present. Use your good head, your past experience and the knowledge you’ve gathered to attack your presentation from the audience’s point of view, not your own. What do they need from you? What have you to offer them? What do they already know and what do you need to fill in? What worries them? What’s tough in today’s world? Grab them with relevance and with energy, with the sense that they’ll miss something they can use if they don’t listen and stay tuned. And then think about what new interesting ways can you make your message clear. Attention getting. Compelling.

And y’know what? Out the window goes the panic while you stay tight on grabbing and keeping them. Making them know that they need to hear you!

In another blog I’m going to give you some great tips on what makes people listen today and some great techniques for being a charismatic presenter. But for now I hope you’ve gotten some insights into the heart of the matter and that they’ll help you start enjoying the sharing of your ideas and feelings with others.

The Travyon Martin Case and the Media

Let me begin by telling you that I’m a long-time jury consultant who’s studied and interviewed juries, worked on many cases and written three books about what makes jurors listen and how they decide. Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of time over the years as a commentator on the media discussing famous cases (including the whole O.J. Simpson case live on daily TV) and analyzing how jurors would see the developments in the case, what the issues are for lay people in these cases, what they believe and understand and so on.

So I’ve been watching the Trayvon Martin case and how it has advanced with a practiced eye. And although I’m pleased to see that it has now finally moved into the courts and the judicial system, where it belongs, I shake my head about how it got it there and what’s happening to the original intentions of how American law is supposed to be practiced.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “to be tried by a jury of their peers,” yes? When our system of laws was formed, “a jury of their peers” was indeed possible and made lots of sense. It meant that not only would most people in any town know the accused and his family but that the jurors thus chosen (though I must decry the fact that it was then only men who were asked to serve… ) all lived in the same environment, understood the efforts of life in that place and shared a number of the common burdens as well as benefits they lived with. They were part of one community and would therefore understand the problems people faced as well as share conclusions about what was a mutually beneficial way to live together and what was out of bounds. And they did utilize the laws of the land as they were created and given.

Well, we have surely grown from those days. Juries today don’t often reflect or share the lives of those accused and may have come to vastly different conclusions about how life should be lived in their community. But I’ll tell you something that is very encouraging. Jurors generally take their work very seriously and really do want to do a good job. And, by and large, the jury system of 12 lay people listening, discussing and deciding is still the best way to bring justice to the analysis and conclusion of any case compared with the other narrow possibilities — a single judge or a panel of three judges or a military tribunal deciding on civilian cases. It’s what has worked for us Americans since we began and speaks of the same intrinsic faith in us as human beings that democracy and voting itself represents.

So what’s happened to that old idealistic system as our country has morphed into a 24-hour news-hungry electronic loudspeaker-with-pictures that rushes to bring us every detail of any event in our daily lives as soon as it happens?

Trial law insists that only the facts and evidence presented in court, during the trial, as sworn testimony heard equally by the jury and all concerned and allowed by the judge according to the rules can be used to analyze and decide on a fair and just verdict. And how is this jury chosen? What is the big goal? To find people who are questioned by the lawyers and/or the judge to be sure they do not have prior knowledge of or prejudice about the case so they can hear what will be said and shown with an open mind… That they haven’t already made up their minds until they hear the evidence.

And what have we got now in the Trayvon Martin case? What hope of finding an open-minded jury of his peers to judge the defendant as we have absorbed the media frenzy for over a month?

We must look at the two sides of this effort — the powerful role the media played to spread the news and get a defendant to even stand trial. But at the same time what evidence was being discovered and described and shown in infinite detail by this same media process? To everyone in this country and beyond? And now that we’re here, what effect has all this information — untested, unexamined from both sides as prescribed by law — had on our hopes of proceeding with a fair trial as prescribed by law? So along with our instant access to everything media wants to send us, I’m ruminating about what basic principles and carefully nurtured systems of our democracy are maybe falling by the wayside?

Humanizing the Ad Business

“Mad Men” fever has taken the country by storm, depicting the changing moods and unwritten rules of America in the 1960s and how the ad business worked then. It’s made me re-focus on what approaches that all-powerful business used to make us spend and buy in the old days. Which is why I’m especially interested in a new trend in the ad business today.

Have you noticed that something’s happening to the way products- and companies- are now being marketed? Have you noticed what’s happened to GE ads? They’re not showing their superior products any more. They’re zooming in on various workers on the job in their jet engine who are telling you how they feel about building these things?

“From the time I was a kid I was fascinated by planes and how they can get off the ground” or “People see engines as just a lot of metal. These are made by hand, piece by piece” or “I’d give anything to see one of these babies fire up and take off”.

Cut to an airfield. A lineup of jet engine workers standing on the tarmac. Here comes the plane, zooming past them -up up and away…

“Wow!”, “Did you see that?”, “Ooh” followed by grins, high fives, hugs and an overall team sense of pride. Of ownership. Of “we made those.” Identifying the grandeur of the machine by focusing on the people who made it. They’re showing the people who make turbines (cut to a train zooming at you and the workers cheering) or compressors (“you wouldn’t have cold beer without us!”).

There’s another very touching one – all about GE’s cancer-connected X-ray and radiation machines. Again–it shows the people who make the machines talking about how they work on something life-saving. One says “I’d love to meet someone who’s been helped by these” Next shot–a group of cancer survivors walking into a GE building and meeting the workers. Hugs, deep looks at each other, close-ups of survivors saying how lucky they are. Very moving, very touching, very human and personal. What a new sales angle!

Remember how products used to be sold? It was always about the product or machine itself. The “It” factor. How strong, reliable, fast, unique, avant-garde it was. How slick or economically solid it was, how it was the most advanced in the field, how its new twists and turns make it the best, the most. “Don’t get left behind. Run- do not walk. Get one NOW. “

But suddenly there’s a complete about-face. A new face–not It but Who. Selling a product or a company by concentrating on the people who make their stuff. To identify the prestige and personal connection of a company by focusing on the basic component of any business – the people who make it happen.

Interesting. How come? Why did GE come up with this idea? What is it telling us? We all know that marketing- the life blood of any business- always looks for what can reach the public best. What new wrinkle, what new gimmick, what new approach can grab the public and persuade. And if GE has decided that it helps to make their company more appealing, more attractive to the marketplace- and the general public by identifying its products with folks, not its brilliant mechanical advances — what an interesting implication. Does it suggest that GE may be looking at its workers and respecting them and their needs differently? That they recognize that it’s good business to acknowledge them as the heart of the business?

Hmmm. In the midst of our age of supertechnological advances, someone is remembering that it’s people who actually make the stuff…

Put Down That Smartphone and Look at Me!

Hearing the inventory of Steve Jobs’ ground-breaking innovations, it made me think of what effect his genius has had on how we now relate to each other. What have we gained?

We can now make magic — we can bolt right over those old time/space barriers that made connecting with each other take time and physical effort. Now we can communicate with each other instantly, effortlessly — no seeing/hearing/touching/talking necessary. Our words fly through space and land just where we want them to with just the tap of a finger. And while we’re with one person we can even answer another’s demands and reach them too — putting the live, visible person we’re with on hold.

But what have we lost?

Communication science tells us that first impressions — the input that helps us learn and discern as we judge people — are made up of 55 percent experiencing your body language, 38 percent your tone of voice and that only 7 percent is your words. Seven percent of total information about anyone is what cell phones give us as we contact each other! Even less since we use acronyms — not even whole words.

So what is our new magic making us miss ?

Each other. The delight and surprise, the troubling demands, the enigmatic and fulfilling contacts we used to make with each other. The challenge of learning how to scratch the surface we all present. To recognize the human traits we all share. To experience each other, to see and learn how others are handling life and its issues — by looking and listening to them.

From the beginning, we used to invest ourselves personally in communicating. From painting pictures in caves to drums and smoke signals to developing language so we could get more specific to creating rites and rituals, plays, dances, songs — we were driven emotionally to reach out and affect each other, to share how we felt. To confirm and find solace in the commonality of our human condition.

It worked for centuries. As we moved on, we still treasured what had been said and done before because we continually recognized that the outreach of all the arts kept answering our questions, giving us other approaches to what we all still continued to live through and care about. And we kept seeking out the personal relating and responding, savoring the talking, the sharing — the contact. In every society, at any time in history, there were always family get-togethers, community celebrations, participation in events and intimacies with fellow humans. We saw and felt each other, reassured by the recognition that we’re not alone. That we do share the space and the life we all live.

Until now.

Yes — we still gather in groups. We still have family get-togethers. We still meet and eat with friends and colleagues. But the drive for contact? Eye contact? Verbal contact? Vocal contact? Reaching out to make personal, human contact? That’s fading. We’re now satisfied to share through little hand-held mechanical devices and solo finger exercises. Human contact is becoming theoretical. If the little device shows letters on a screen that means we’ve made today’s kind of contact. And it’s enough. Much easier and faster than talking. Safer too, since we can reconsider, edit and rewrite before reaching out. But what’s getting short-circuited in the creation of this unquestionably genius device? The looking, seeing, smiling, frowning, raising a voice, laughing a laugh — all those native people-gifts that we used to use for pleasure. And to instinctively judge, react to, understand and feel the human contacts we made.

Young people’s acronym-filled messages are now simply asking, “Are you still there?” waiting for the screen to say “Contact — I’m here.” We all use the new technology to fulfill more than just work tasks. The screen also answers “Who knows me?” “Do I matter” “Am I a player in the big game?” But the basic substance of life and how we live it is still human — not mechanical — and these extraordinary inventions are also starting to dry up our original communicative talents that always made reaching out to each other — though a little more time consuming — such full, rich, meaningful experiences.

So — what have we gained? Speed and ease and freedom in completing the circuits; in making technology do our bidding, short-cutting all the tiresome, time-consuming ways we used to use to accomplish our tasks. That’s good.

But what are we losing?

Those native human gifts we all own. Finding the individuality, the one-of-a-kindness that we can only discover by looking and listening, by interacting and processing live, at once, while we’re in real, personal contact with each other.

So — what am I asking for? Especially from the younger ones among us who grew up addicted to those devices. Put down those cell phones and go for being present. When you’re together with others, park the phone. Look. Listen. Perceive. Tune in. Treasure and use those inherent human instincts we used to be so good at when we needed to sense friend or foe, danger or joy, surprise or discovery. Notice. Touch. Breathe in. Feel what happens between people. Find out what we share before we lose those skills altogether. Discover what else you can learn about yourself and living – -not just the fact that we can now also make contact by tapping away.

The Challenge of Growing Up

So you think teenagers are so different now from when you and I were there? Sure, the tech revolution has added some bizarre twists but I recently had occasion to revisit the teenage revolt with a friend who’s having the usual heartburn trying to set the usual rules and explain the usual issues to her daughter.

As I watched I thought about the intrinsic rebellion built into that adolescent period from time immemorial Why was it ever thus? Well, here’s what I think.

Adolescents have this monumental task of needing to flex and test their own muscles to see if they’ll be strong enough to take the next step—to  move into the tough and complex world they see— to take their own place in it, handle the blows and challenges, become self- determining and emerge as adults. Needs lotsa muscle and  confidence- building to confront that. Where’s the best and safest gym to try out those counter-punches? With the folks that until yesterday seemed like their bulwark and safety net. But to start this workout, teens must first reject what they’ve always relied on. So that’s the beginning of the battle from the teen’s side.

But what about the poor beleaguered parents? They’re being tested too. Their power is also being challenged. Instead of making fists, as the kids need to do, parents’ challenge is to open that tight hand on the reins and begin to let go. How terrifying! This change of roles can also say  “am I losing my power over my kid? Maybe even in my world?”.So here’s the standoff and the source of the battle.

The teens need to reject, rebel, dare to be rude and obnoxious, break the rules and make their own decisions — all in an effort to test if they can be strong enough to do that and survive.

And the parents? They’re hanging on for dear life not just to the past and the roles of wise advisor, teacher and rule-maker, but they’re also being pushed into taking the next step in their own development. They need to let go and find their strength and reassurance in other ways, and a new role in relation to their kids.

But there’s one more thing. Teens recognize that the unmitigated love and care they got at home will not continue in that big world they’re entering. So they need to break that dependence on the parents, to snap that comfortable bond, in order to find out if they can live without that too. Thus they need to make themselves so obnoxious that their parents will reject them at the same time that they’re doing the rejection. To make the next step of “Go- get out of here already!” come from the parents, making it easier for teenagers to leave.

What do you think?