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Asserting for Synthesisers

People who have the “responding” preference, who like to think first before they speak, expect people to take turns when they talk.  Often, Synthesisers will wait patiently during a discussion for their turn to speak, only to find that people carry on talking and move on to different topics, before they have had a chance to contribute.  Energisers usually have a lot to say and may hardly seem to pause for breath, so it can be difficult to break in.  Mobilisers usually want to move on quickly to a new topic, so by the time the Synthesiser spots a gap, Mobilisers are ready for a change of subject.  Synthesisers will either give up or will interject and feel impolite.  What can Synthesisers do to get their views heard? 

One way is to signal by your body language that you want to speak – lean forward, take a breath, move your hand.  You can also make eye contact with the person speaking, raise your voice and speak clearly.  Using assertive phrases, such as “I think…, I want…., my opinion is…” can also help.  Most important of all – don’t take it personally, persevere and practise and you will find it easier to get in on the conversation. 


Energiser vs Synthesiser energy

The urge of Energisers to involve people can sometimes lead to others feeling overlooked.  Energisers want to get everyone involved and like talking with a group of people. People with other styles, such as Synthesiser, prefer to talk one to one.  After a short time of talking to one person, an Energiser will turn to someone else, to bring them into the conversation, while a Synthesiser might have preferred a more in depth discussion, and can feel snubbed. 

If you are a Synthesiser, don’t let it bother you – recognise that the Energiser is just doing what comes naturally to them, and is not intentionally snubbing you.  And if you are an Energiser, maybe recognise the impact of your behaviour and spend just a little more time listening in one to one conversation.


Even Energisers need time to chill

Energisers typically like to be surrounded by people.  One person with the Energiser style told me “I am happiest when all the family is sat around the kitchen table, talking at once”.

However, like all of us, they too need some quiet time.  It can be difficult for them to get this, as they tend to feel they must live up to their own self-image and other people’s expectations of them.  They are expected to be the person who is engaging and brings energy and enthusiasm to a task.  When they are not, this puzzles and worries those around them and people will ask what’s wrong with them.

If you are an Energiser, don’t be afraid to act out of character sometimes – we all need time to chill. 


When being yourself is hard

While most of the time we act in line with our personality preferences and our self-image, there are times when it is important to adapt our behaviour, to ensure that we have the impact on others that we intend.

Energisers, who typically have plenty to say and bring their involving energy and enthusiasm to a task, sometimes need to tone down their input, to enable others to contribute.  There are a couple of techniques recommended by Energisers to help them do this: 

  • one Energiser told me her signal to herself in meetings when she needs to be quiet is to sit on her hands – this stops her speaking.
  • another Energiser told me that when he is on conference calls, he sometimes mutes himself, so he can’t blurt out comments, but instead deliberately chooses when to unmute. 
  • “train your brain” by reminding yourself before you go to a meeting to leave pauses when you speak, so other people can get in, and to ask other people for their views (and listen to what they say!).

Don’t tone down too much – other people need the energy you bring!


Sculpting the best result

We all work in different ways and some of us like to have several projects on the go, while others like to work on one thing at a time. 

When your work is practical and visible, this difference becomes very apparent.  A sculptor who has the Synthesiser drive to get the best result possible, works on many projects in parallel and continues to “tweak” each sculpture as time passes, even when they are finished and ready for sale.  A trainer with the Synthesiser energy has a similar approach to training courses – each time she runs a course, she tweaks it to improve it and never does it in exactly the same way twice. 

In both these cases, there is no negative impact on anyone else.  But if they are working with others, who want to get a task or project finished, then they may need to curb their need to get the “best result” and instead accept a result that is “good enough”.


Synthesiser’s urge to integrate can make things complicated!

My husband and I had a saving plan that was coming to maturity and needed to be moved into a different account.

He suggested we move it to the new account recommended by the bank. This would have been an easy and quick action. But rather than agreeing immediately, my synthesiser urge to integrate information to get the best result, drove me to suggest that we look at all our savings plans and check which others might be maturing before making a decision.

He found this suggestion frustrating, as it delayed the decision and made a small task into a much larger job, for which neither of us had time.

On thinking about it, I realised that I didn’t want to expend time or effort on it either. So we settled for the quick and easy option.


How a Navigator raised his profile

Graham attended monthly meetings with his boss and managerial colleagues in the region.  He sometimes felt uncomfortable at these meetings, especially when he felt he had little to say, and others seemed to have plenty to talk about.  He sensed that he needed to up his profile in the region but didn’t know how.    

When he learned about the four styles, he realised that he tended to take a responding role in communication rather than an initiating role.  This meant he preferred to think through what he wanted to say before speaking, but by the time he did, the opportunity had often passed. 

He found a couple of simple techniques that helped him to increase his contribution to the meetings:

• He reviewed the agenda in advance and planned what he might want to say

• He made a conscious effort to speak up, even if it was only to ask a question

• He practised giving his opinion, even when he hadn’t fully worked out his thoughts

The first time he spoke up and asked some questions, his boss noticed immediately and gave him positive feedback, which built his confidence and encouraged him to continue.


Navigator gets on better with his extraverted colleague

Graham (same person as above) realised that while he tended to wait to speak until he had worked out his thoughts on a topic, some of his colleagues would give their opinions even when they were only half formed.

He found this irritating and felt they should think things through first.

Learning about the styles helped him realise that people who take an initiating role in communication tend to think while they are speaking – talking it out helps them to work out what they think.

Often what they say is not their final position – they carry on evolving their thoughts as they talk.

This insight helped him to show more patience to one colleague, Karen, and he started to pay more attention to what she said and to find value in her contributions.

He also realised that he might be seen by the others as withdrawn and that this might make them feel uncomfortable (what’s he thinking?), so he made more effort to speak up.


Consultative style causes conflict

We make assumptions about how decisions should be made, based on our own style. Synthesisers, naturally have a consultative style and assume that when a proposal is made, by themselves of others, that it is “up for discussion”.

They expect that other people will comment, add information and a better result might be reached. This approach can lead to conflict with people who make other assumptions about the purpose of a proposal. 

Gemma was captain of a ladies’ doubles tennis team, and usually behaved in the energiser style.

At the start of a match, she made a proposal about pairings, which she intended as a firm decision and she hoped that the rest of the team would embrace it.

Her informing style meant that her proposal sounded open-ended, and one of the players with the synthesiser preference assumed it was up for discussion and made an alternative suggestion.

After some discussion, Gemma went along with the alternative.

However, Gemma felt undermined and unsettled and this affected her game. A third player did not agree with the outcome and also played badly because she couldn’t put her negative thoughts and feelings about the discussion out of her mind.

Being aware of other people’s decision-making style – recognising when a decision is up for discussion or not - can help to avoid conflict and other unwanted outcomes.


Synthesiser adapting to a Mobiliser boss

Knowledge of the four styles helps you to understand others and appreciate what might be driving their behaviour, and this in turn enables you to maintain a positive attitude towards them, rather than reacting negatively to them.

When John learned about the styles, he immediately gained some insights into the behaviour of his boss, Tom. He had noticed that Tom didn’t like to do small talk and always deflected the conversation back on to work. This made John feel somewhat insignificant and potentially unliked - he felt his boss “couldn’t be bothered to get to know him”.

When John realised that Tom was showing some of the behaviours of the mobiliser style, he recognised that he was driven to get things accomplished and had a strong focus on task and time.

John was able to “reframe” his boss’s behaviour in a more positive light. This also helped John to eliminate his own negative feelings that he didn’t matter to his boss. John had also noticed that while Tom sounded very decisive, and therefore that it wasn’t worth expressing alternative views, in fact his boss was open to listening to other opinions – this is typical of many Mobilisers. 

Sometimes they feel frustrated that people go along with what they say and they would prefer to have some challenge and debate – as long as it reaches a quick conclusion!


Mobiliser urge to get things done

Tom (case above) hated to have actions outstanding, he liked to feel he had accomplished everything. John recalled that on one occasion when leaving the office, Tom said he had had a “bad day” because there were still 9 emails in his inbox.

To John, who had about 70 in his inbox, this did not seem like a “bad day”. It illustrates Tom’s mobiliser drive to get things done and finished.

This is a good thing of course, but if not managed, can lead to mobilisers putting themselves and the people around them, under undue pressure and stress. 

When Tom left work that day, instead of feeling bad because he had 9 emails left, he could have felt good because he had dealt with everything else.


Adapting to connect – synthesiser using energiser energy

Jenny came across to others in the energiser style. She appeared outgoing, would initiate contact and seemed at ease making conversation with other people. However, when she assessed her own style, she identified with the synthesiser style and her preference for the more introverted, responding role was clear.

She said that she had learned the more extraverted behaviours and felt comfortable doing them, particularly when initiating contact with customers (she was in Sales) and with her staff – this was an expected part of her role and she could perform it well.

Where her more introverted responding preference was most noticeable was in meetings with her colleagues – at these meetings, her natural preference for reflecting, for thinking first before she spoke, meant that she did not say very much. She also described herself as a “quiet” person, both at home and at work.

This case illustrates that while we have a natural style, we can be very flexible and adopt other styles and behaviours when the situation requires it.

When we are “in” a particular style, we may have the inner drives of that style temporarily – in Jenny’s case, when displaying the energising behaviours, she is probably experiencing the drive to involve others.


Mobilisers – “it’s a risk not to take a risk”

Mobilisers believe that it is worth the risk to go ahead and act or decide, while people with other styles might take more time to consult or evaluate. In fact, what seems risky to other styles does not seem risky to mobilisers – they see not acting as risky.

Some mobilisers describe themselves as “entrepreneurial”. Jim was the head of a car dealership, and had the mobiliser style. At a time when his colleagues in other dealerships were ordering diesel cars from the manufacturer, he decided to order more petrol engine cars instead – and they all sold.

When telling me about it, he said “it felt risky not to have done it”.


Synthesiser’s aim to get the best result

Sometimes the inner drive of people with the synthesiser style to get the best result possible and have control over the outcome, can be very stressful for them.

I experienced this stress of wanting control over the outcome when reading through the proofs of my book – there were a lot of changes and corrections to make, and I found it incredibly stressful that I had to rely on other people to make them to get the best possible result.

How can the synthesiser prevent their positive inner drive from flipping over into negative pressure? For me, what helped was to get help from others to check my proof reading, take regular breaks to do something different, and get outside for a walk, which helped me to put things in perspective.