Opposites attract! By Helen Waddington

A guest blog from Helen Waddington HKW Risk Management

What happened when my husband and I went on a Behavioural Styles course and why the cliché of opposites attracting turned out to be true – in our case at least!

Opposites attract photo Helen Waddington.JPG

A selfie of my husband and I which we took on the Isle of Wight this summer – it quite nicely demonstrates both our physical and personality differences!

I first met Clare of Nova Associates at a CQI branch event where she gave a fascinating presentation about the different types of Behavioural Styles and how you can use them to communicate more effectively. Clare runs workshop called Communicating More Effectively Using Behavioural Styles and I’ve attended this workshop twice now, I was so impressed and learnt so much about communication the first time, I took my husband along with me the second time!

The first exercise of the course is a questionnaire with 4 boxes, each with a list of words from which you have to quickly choose which words are ‘you’. The options I ticked included Enthusiastic, Energetic, Very verbal and Motivator from one list and Confident, Determined, Independent and Strong willed from another. The boxes including words like Calm, Relaxed, Gentle, Soft spoken and Even-tempered didn’t get many (any!) ticks at all. Interestingly my husband had ticked a completely different set of words including Reserved, Conscientious, Precise, Persistent and Factual from one list and Sensitive, Good Natured, Modest and Patient from the other. This meant that we set off into opposite corners of the room for the rest of the course, me to the ‘fast paced, people focused’ corner and my husband to the ‘slow paced, task focused’ corner.

The words Clare uses to summarise these behavioural styles are ‘Socialiser’ (me – obvious to anybody who knows me!) and ‘Thinker’ (my husband – equally obvious to anyone who knows him), the other options available are ‘Relator’ or ‘Director’. Interestingly when I first did this course in March 2017, I ticked 20 words in the Socialiser box and 12 words in the Director box, but when I did the course again in February 2018 (having been running my own business for 18mths) I ticked 15 words in the Socialiser box and 13 in the Director box which demonstrates that these behavioural styles are not ‘fixed’ and can change over time - we are all a mixture of the four styles and there is no ‘perfect’ style. Different personality traits will come to the forefront depending on the circumstances we are in and the pressures we are under.

Clare provided real life scenarios and examples throughout the course - one of the most memorable was when she described a sunny Friday, a last-minute decision to host a BBQ at the weekend and an instruction for my husband to go to the supermarket and do what? My immediate answer was ‘buy BBQ stuff’, my husband’s equally immediate response was a plaintive and faintly panic stricken ‘what stuff?!’ Apart from making everybody on the course laugh, it provided a brilliant example of how people communicate differently, I thought ‘buy BBQ stuff’ was a shopping list, my husband needed details on precisely what stuff, how many people were coming, were there any vegetarians, should he buy pringles as well as instead of tortilla chips etc

I’m now far more aware of the way I communicate with people (not just my husband and not just when writing shopping lists) both verbally and over email (I have to make a conscious effort to reduce the number of words and exclamation marks I use – the temptation to put an exclamation mark at the end of this sentence is very strong but I have managed to resist). As a consultant, I meet lots of different people and often only have a very short time to build a working relationship, I believe the things I have learnt on this course about ways of communicating including body language and style of dress, vocabulary and tone of voice have made that easier and far more effective.

Clare runs the Behavioural Styles workshop in house for companies, contact Nova Associates for more details.