HR Management & Compliance

Learn the Language of Your Team

By Erin Wortham
In yesterday’s Advisor, Erin Wortham, people engagement manager at Insights Learning and Development, provided tips on building a team that is made up of diverse personalities. Today, Wortham presents more insight into meeting this human resources challenge.

2. Learn their Language

When extroverts and introverts clash, it’s often because they’re speaking to the other in the way they themselves prefer to connect rather than in the style of the person they’re communicating with. Try something different: Communicate with people not in the style that you prefer but the style that they prefer. When you communicate with a person in alignment with their interpersonal preferences, there’s a better chance your message will resonate if you adapt and connect to their preference rather than your own.
If you’re communicating with someone with an introverted preference, for instance, instead of brainstorming ideas on the spot, think about sending a note in advance so they have a little time to prepare their ideas. If you’re working with someone who leads with an extroverted preference, on the other hand, it may make sense to deliberately spend more time listening and letting them share their ideas out loud.

3. Fine Tune, Adjust, and Repeat

No one is a pure introvert or a pure extrovert. All of us have introverted or extroverted tendencies to different degrees. Introverts can display extroverted behavior, and the same is true of extroverts. This means that to build a truly integrated team, you’ll have to make an effort to understand each member of your team individually and stretch your preferences on occasion to adapt to your environment. It’s important to remember, though, that what works for one person is not what works for all.
After observing and making note of your teammates’ preferences, think about how you can adapt and connect with each of them in a more effective way. If you have a colleague with a thirst for detail, give it to them before they have to ask. If you’re sitting next to someone who is all about the family, ask about his or her kids and what he or she did over the weekend. If someone prefers e-mail to face-to-face communication, consider doing more of your work with him or her in that way. It’s easy to adapt your approach once you know how different people prefer to work.

Putting It All Together

Working together isn’t about making others change who they are. Instead, it’s about each of us recognizing our own interpersonal preferences, realizing that not everyone shares them, and staying curious about the preferences of others.
By reflecting on your own beliefs, needs, and motivations, you can better realize your strengths and weaknesses. The more you exercise your ability to articulate these and the more you open up to other people’s preferences, the more you’ll move from a place of judgment to a place of connection and acceptance. You’ll be well on your way to valuing and integrating what others bring to the table.