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Using Awareness Of Behavior Styles To Interact More Effectively


Jacqueline L. Miller, C.P.M.
Jacqueline L. Miller, C.P.M., Purchasing Product Manager, Hennessy Industries, Lavergne, TN 37086, 615/641-7533, Ext. 7362.

80th Annual International Conference Proceedings - 1995 - Anaheim, California

As companies move closer to a team concept to achieve their policy deployment goals, it has become painfully obvious that many of us lack the interpersonal skills necessary to communicate effectively within our companies. We fail to recognize that we are not all alike--that we use time differently, that we make decisions differently, and that most of all we communicate and interact differently. In order to be an effective team member, we must learn to recognize differences among our colleagues and their behavior styles and to adjust our own behavior to interface more effectively. As our companies become more and more diverse, this issue will be one of the main contributors to the success of our organizations.

My objectives of this presentation are: (1) to create an awareness of behavior styles (2) to create an awareness of our own behavior style (3) to apply this knowledge of behavior styles to impact our effectiveness as a team member.

Seventy-five percent of the people with whom you interact are different from you. They use time differently, they make decisions differently, and they communicate differently. These different behavior styles complicate our jobs because we assume that in a given situation others will do what we do.

Behavior is everything a person does that is directly observable (both verbal and nonverbal). The key factor of behavior that differentiates it from personality types is that it is plainly observable--we can see how people act. This is not true of personality; personality is the crucial components of a person that cannot be seen directly--their thoughts, motives, feelings, attitudes and values. You can only guess at what these are, and it is usually not a correct guess. Thus, if we truly want to communicate more effectively we must concentrate on behavior because it is the only thing that is clearly observable.

Each of us has a behavior style or social style. It is how we come across to others and is not necessarily how we perceive ourselves. My objective is to provide you with an awareness of those behaviors that can be observed which will allow you to think about it, apply it, and to interact more powerfully.

You have been asked to put together a team of three people to develop, promote, and complete the local annual Charity Drive. You will not be a member of the team but are responsible for the selection of the members. The kick-off for the Charity Drive is fast approaching, and four people have asked to be on the team. Listed below are the descriptions of those four people. Which three of the four will be on the team?

  • Charles: He is good at details. He makes sure everything is accurate and in order. He follows directions.
  • Sara: She is a good hard worker. She is extremely loyal and patient with others and will stick with the job.
  • Irene: She is a promoter. She verbalizes well and generates enthusiasm and excitement. She enjoys working with people.
  • Dave: He is the person who gets results. He takes authority and is a good leader and will make decisions.

Which would you delete? Why? Was it a hard decision to make? Before we discuss the four behavior types, I want you to keep in mind that no one behavior is right or wrong. We may think one is wrong because it is different from ours. For the sake of getting to know styles, we may exaggerate and will certainly talk in "categories." Be careful with this; people dislike being categorized or put into slots.

There are four main behavior styles: driver, expressive, amiable, and analytical. This does not mean that a person exhibits this behavior one hundred percent of the time, but it is the person's dominant style and accounts for about fifty percent of his/her behavior.

  • DRIVER: Task accomplisher, bottom-line results person, self-motivated, hard worker, forward looking, progressive, fast decision maker, likes to control self and others Under stress: becomes an autocrat--pushy, demanding, bossy
  • EXPRESSIVE: Enjoyable to be around, moves quickly with high energy, has a creative imagination, initiates relationships, motivates others toward goals Under stress: attacks--words fly--then will "make-up"
  • AMIABLE: Dependable and loyal team workers, works for a leader and a cause, good listener, patient, and empathetic, good at reconciling factions; very calming Under stress: will give in--keep harmony/peace
  • ANALYTICAL: Conscientious and steady, comprehensive worker, defines, clarifies, gathers information, criticizes and tests, maintains standards Under stress: avoids, withdraws (physically or emotionally)

IDENTIFYING OUR BEHAVIOR STYLE--STYLE ANALYSIS. Each person will be given a behavior profile.

As we recognize our own behavior style and that of others, we can use this information to interact more effectively. We can flex to the style of others to achieve our goals. Obviously, it is easier to change ourselves than to change others.

Often we have to delay the satisfaction of our own needs in order to make it easier for the other person to relate to us. First, we must accept the other person's style as legitimate. Then we can adjust our behavior. The degree of this modification depends on the importance of the task.

Drivers are influenced by direct answers, probabilities and options. You must support their choices and decisions. You must be efficient. The climate of a driver is power and authority.

Analyticals are influenced by data and facts. They support facts and logic. When dealing with an analytical, you must be correct and do it right the first time. The climate of an analytical is time to think.

Amiables are influenced by assurances and support; they support people and emotions. When dealing with an amiable, be sincere. The climate for an amiable is security with time to adjust.

Expressives are influenced by praise, incentives and testimonials. They must be given a chance to verbalize. When dealing with an expressive, be stimulating. The climate of an expressive is friendly and warm.

In order to interact effectively and achieve the realizations of our company objectives, we must first know where we're coming from--how others perceive us. Next, we must know where others are coming from--what makes them tick. With this knowledge, we can then impact the effectiveness of our teams by modifying our behavior during meetings and flexing to other styles of behavior in order to get the job done.


  1. Gautschl, T.F., Ph.D. "The Engineer as a Person." Design News, November 1992, 252.
  2. Littauer, Florence. Personality Plus. Nashville: Word, Inc., 1990.
  3. Reed, Anita. Understanding Yourself and Others Personality Profile. Dallas: Anita Reed Seminars, 1990

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