Green Energy: Seeing the Human Side at Work

Insights Discovery benefits of green energy

For many of us, it’s easy to think of work in a purely business sense. We show up, we go to meetings, we run our reports or work on our projects, we leave. But it’s often the human side of things that drives a business. It’s the collaboration and energetic teamwork. It’s looking out for our co-workers and taking a genuine interest in their lives.

Compassion in the workplace does make a difference. According to Amy Morin, contributor to Forbes online, there is clear evidence that “compassion not only improves workplace culture, but it can also help a company’s bottom line.” Among the benefits, Morin points to improved employee retention, reduced stress, and improved physical health.

How can a workplace become more compassionate and people-focused? It can start with tapping into its “green energy.”

Green energy is a term created by a self-evaluation program called Insights® Discovery. Insights® has its roots in the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and focuses on helping individuals and teams become more self-aware, improve communication, and develop an understanding of the thought and behavioral differences that occur between people.

According to the Insights® color model, every person is comprised of four different color energies, but we tend to exhibit one or two colors more than the others. Those who lead with green energy are often empathetic, inclusive, and concerned about others’ well-being. They are sensitive to the needs of others and are often very good at reading emotions. Those with a great deal of green energy may find themselves in careers such as nursing, teaching, or social work.

We all have a little “green” embedded in our personalities. By collectively tapping into that color energy, a workplace can become more compassionate and human-centric. Several studies conducted through the Wharton School of Business found that, regardless of the industry, companies that focus on compassion create a work culture “associated with greater satisfaction, commitment, and accountability.” They also found that this kind of caring culture can also trickle down to a company’s clients.

How can YOUR workplace begin to tap into its green energy? Simple, individual actions can make a huge difference. Start with the following:

1. Ask thoughtful questions

Show genuine interest in co-workers and clients. Practice seeing them as people—people with flaws, emotions, friends, family, and strengths that are yet to be discovered.

2. LISTEN

Put your own thoughts on hold and practice active listening.

3. Aim for understanding

Even if you think you don’t agree with someone, work to find common ground. Ask thoughtful questions about their stance, listen to what they have to say, and explain your own views in a non-threatening way.

4. Pay attention

Your attentiveness can potentially make the workplace more inclusive. Are there people in the office who seem to be left out of discussions? Does a certain co-worker seem dissatisfied with a project? Is a particular client distant or noncommittal lately? Pay attention and look for ways to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.

5. Make yourself vulnerable

Communication is a two-way street. If you expect others to open up, you have to be willing to also become vulnerable. Your authenticity can help shape a business into a place that is honest, communicative, and supportive.

 

Be a green energy leader! Your personal commitment to caring communication and empathy can help drive your company to create positive changes. A compassionate workplace begins with one leader at a time.

Contact me for more information.

Effective Strategies for Communicating with Extroverts

Effective Strategies for Communicating with Extroverts

If you’re a person with introverted tendencies, working with extroverts can seem taxing and chaotic. But it doesn’t have to be. Once you understand the causes behind extroverted behavior, effective workplace communication with extroverts begins to seem like common sense.

People with extroverted behavior may be inclined to interact with others due to simple biology. Dopamine, a neurological chemical, plays a major role in the reward and pleasure centers of the brain and extroverts have a stronger dopamine response to reward than introverts. When extroverts interact with others, they are more energized and motivated by the possibility of reward.

Recognizing how this heightened dopamine response fuels extroverted personalities is vital to effective inter-office communication. Social interactions are filled with opportunities for reward, and extroverts are determined to make the most of them. Consequently, the more rewarding you make your conversation to an extrovert, the happier they’ll feel. Keeping that in mind, here are a few best-practice communication strategies guaranteed to light up an extrovert’s reward system and build healthy interpersonal communication, both in and outside of the office.

 

STAY POSITIVE

Extroverts typically find social situations to be more inherently interesting than introverts do. One study found that extroverts were more stimulated by pictures of people than introverted participants were, suggesting extroverts place greater significance on social interaction. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that an extrovert would be disappointed when an interaction doesn’t go particularly well. With that in mind, keep conversations with an extrovert positive to foster a strong working relationship. Let it be known that you appreciate your time with them, and they’ll likely look forward to talking with you again.

 

OFFER A RISK OR CHALLENGE

High-stakes, high-reward opportunities tend to go hand-in-hand with extroversion. Unpredictability isn’t necessarily viewed as a bad thing by extroverts, but rather a challenge to overcome.  An experiment involving a gambling task found that extroverts had a stronger neurological response to both surprise and positive results than introverts did. If you’re trying to convince an extrovert to take on a task or join you in an endeavor, frame it as an adventure or a big opportunity. Adding a little bit of a risk-factor is definitely a plus.

 

GIVE THEM TIME TO TALK

Extroverts like to talk. So naturally, when you communicate with an extrovert, it’s best not to cut them off. Give them the time to say what they want to say, and more likely than not, they’ll leave you plenty of time to talk once they’ve completed their thought. If not, don’t hesitate to politely let them know you’d like a chance to speak; extroverts are excited by many different aspects of social interactions, so they’ll be interested in hearing what you have to say, too.

GET TO KNOW THE UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL

The problem with the extrovert-introvert dichotomy is that it treats each group like two different species. In reality, extroversion and introversion exist on a spectrum, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. When communicating, it’s important not to assume people are extroverted or introverted. Rather, get a sense for each person’s unique preferences and tendencies, and try to gauge how they’re feeling during your interaction. As with any type of interaction, awareness is key.

 

 

Your extroverted co-workers can add energy, creative ideas, and candidness to the workplace. By giving them the space to shine and respecting their needs, and can help your business reach its full potential. Remember, the most well-rounded, innovative workplaces embrace a variety of different people with different communication tendencies.

 

Do you have communication difficulties in YOUR office? Contact me and let’s talk.

Effective Strategies for Communicating with Introverts

Effective strategies for communicating with introverts

You’re likely familiar with the basic definitions of introversion and extroversion. Introverts draw energy from being alone, while extroverts draw energy from being with other people.

Though this may seem to make sense, there isn’t a neat dividing line between introverts and extroverts and both groups can exhibit behaviors typically characteristic of their opposite type. In fact, a study recently confirmed that extroverts also can be drained by social interaction just as introverts are, and sometimes need alone-time to “recharge.” Similarly, there is a common misconception that introverts don’t like social interaction, when many introverts actually lead very rich social lives and can also be very effective team members.

This blog contains some effective strategies for communicating with introverts that are based on peer-reviewed studies, not just conventional wisdom. (Note: in my next blog, I will cover important aspects of working with extroverts.)

 

AVOID SMALL-TALK

If an introvert doesn’t seem to be totally into your discussion about the weather outside, it’s not because they abhor social interaction – rather, introverts aren’t particularly keen on engaging in conversation just for the sake of conversation, or what is often called small talk. One study measuring attention in introverts and extroverts found that extroverts tended to be more sensitive to social stimuli than neutral stimuli, while introverts reacted similarly to both types of stimuli. In other words, extroverts may see reward in social interaction in and of itself, whereas introverts don’t necessarily experience social interaction differently than any other source of stimuli. With that in mind, instead of using small talk with introvert colleagues, try engaging in a conversation with some substance (think scientific studies, new technology, or the latest global news).

 

BE PATIENT AND ALLOW SPACE TO THINK

While much conventional wisdom about introverts isn’t built on concrete evidence, the phrase “still water runs deep” does have some merit. A Harvard University study discovered that introverts had thicker gray matter in the part of the brain linked to decision-making and abstract thought (the prefrontal cortex) than do extroverts. This suggests that introverts are more inclined to meticulous, drawn-out thought, meaning they may need time and space to think things through before they make decisions or take action. Further, introverts get pleasure from turning inward, rewarded with a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. With these elements in mind, don’t push for a quick decision from an introvert. Be patient and give them the time they need to think.

 

CHOOSE A COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT

There’s a reason introverts aren’t as attracted to loud, crowded parties as extroverts – and it’s not because they don’t like being around people. Mainly, a “party” atmosphere is chock-full of external stimuli, and it can become too much for an introvert’s active prefrontal cortex to process at one time, especially over longer periods of time. If you’re going to meet up with an introvert, find a small, quiet place without distractions so they can focus on you, not the music blaring through the speakers.

 

GET TO KNOW THE UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL

The problem with the introvert-extrovert dichotomy is that it treats each group like two different species. In reality, introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. When communicating, it’s important not to assume people are introverted or extroverted. Rather, get a sense for each person’s unique preferences and tendencies, and try to gauge how they’re feeling during your interaction. As with any type of interaction, awareness is key.

 

Your introverted co-workers have a lot to offer. Give them the time and space to share their ideas and insights and you may be surprised by what they give back. Keep in mind that a diverse, yet inclusive workplace creates fertile ground for innovative ideas and creativity.

 

 

Having trouble working with an introverted co-worker or team? Contact me and let’s discuss it.

The “Yellow Energy” Team

Insights Discovery Yellow Energy Team

In a couple of past blog posts, I’ve talked about the Insights® Discovery model and its application in the workplace. The basic concept of Insights® is that all people have the ability to behave and think in multiple ways, but we tend to emphasize some styles over others. For example, even the most passive person has the ability to lead. Similarly, the most data-driven person has the capacity to be creative.

According to the Insights® color model, every person is comprised of four different color energies, but we tend to exhibit one or two colors more than the others (To learn more about the four color model, read this past blog post). In this post we will focus on people who lead with yellow energy. This group of people tends to be outgoing, creative, energetic, and social. Many “sunshine yellow” people enjoy group projects and brainstorming solutions in a collaborative setting.

Sound like anyone in your workplace? Or, does it sound like you?

If so, you know that working in a team with someone who leads with yellow energy can come with both rewards and frustrations. On the positive side, people who lead with yellow energy tend to be idea generators. They aren’t afraid to offer off-the-cuff ideas, which is great for getting a conversation going and working through many different ideas.

They are also natural motivators. Yellow energy gusto can be contagious and can help a team stay energized when working through a project.

On the other hand, folks leading with yellow energy are not always keen on slowing down and examining the details. They might be enthusiastic about diving into a new plan, but they don’t always want to look at the data behind the decision or take the time to conduct thorough research. This kind of deliberation can seem tedious for someone as high-energy and enthusiastic as someone calling upon his yellow energy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of people who love examining data and conducting research (I’m one of them!). If a team is well-balanced, those who prefer yellow energy do not have to be tied to tasks that do not suit their skill set.

But what if your team is comprised of almost all those who lead with yellow energy? You might struggle with staying on task (as those with a good deal of yellow energy love to socialize) or you might find that people often try to speak over each other or vie for leadership positions. To overcome the pandemonium of a team focused with yellow energy, take the time to set parameters. If your team is chatty, designate half-hour chunks of time to focus solely on work. If your team is dealing with power struggles, appoint a project leader who is given the final say. Leadership can always change hands during the next project.

Take time to appreciate those who demonstrate yellow energy on your team! They are important for sparking team innovation and ingenuity, motivating the team, and providing a little sunshine when it’s needed. How will your work team utilize its yellow energy?

 

Questions about team dynamics? Please contact me today.

Bright, Brief, & Blunt: Working with a “Red Energy” Leader

Two serious women in a business meeting

A typical workplace always has a few people that lead with red energy.

These are the natural leaders, the people who are unafraid to speak their minds, the highly focused individuals who prefer to get straight to the point. Someone who embraces red energy is oftentimes bold, determined, and goal-oriented. Sound like someone in your workplace? Or do these characteristics, perhaps, describe you?

Red energy is a term coined by a self-evaluation program called Insights® Discovery. Insights® is a science-based assessment tool that helps individuals gain self-awareness and facilitates improved team dynamics and communication. I discuss Insights® Discovery in more detail in a past blog post.

According to the Insights® color model, every person is comprised of four different color energies, but we tend to exhibit one or two colors more than the others. In the case of someone who leads with red, that means a no-nonsense approach to both work and life. Oftentimes, “reds” have trouble understanding the point of small talk or don’t think about others’ feelings when making a decision or a making a statement.

Given these tendencies, what is the best way to effectively work with a red energy leader?

First of all, it’s useful to understand the way red energy people think. To them, small talk wastes time and feelings should not interfere with decision-making. They like honest, straight-forward communication, quick decisions, and action. Although these traits can help make someone an excellent leader, they can also make that person come across as cold, brusque, or hasty.

As a “non-red,” be aware that those who lead with red energy are not typically trying to be bullies. They are driven and vocal, which can be intimidating, but they typically care about what’s best for the company and which path will lead to success (in the quickest, most direct way possible!).  When you know you’re about to meet with a leader who favors red energy, come prepared with bullet points and concise explanations. If, for instance, you’re outlining a new project strategy, keep your explanation brief and bright. Don’t add too many analytical details that will bog down your presentation and make sure you relay your information with confidence.

In a team meeting, attempt to be a bridge-maker. If your red energy leader is rubbing people the wrong way with her bluntness, attempt to mediate the situation. You might say something like, “What I think Mary Leader means to say is X, Y, and Z. Is that correct, Mary?” A simple empathetic statement can help turn a tense meeting into an open dialogue.

On the flip side, if you are a red energy leader, be mindful of your tendencies. Think about how you might channel your natural inclinations in a positive manner when it comes to leadership and decision-making. For instance, it’s great to be assertive, but not aggressive; bold, but mindful of others’ opinions; action-oriented, but not hasty.

Keep in mind that others may not operate or think the same way as you do. What you view as efficient, others might view as cold or uncaring. Instead of focusing solely on results and productivity, shift your lens to the people around you. Ask them questions, attempt to understand their perspective, and begin to get to know them. Spare a few minutes at the start of every meeting for some small talk and get-to-know-you time. Such acts of compassion are anything but time-wasters. These are the tiny gestures that lead to higher overall employee satisfaction and retention. It’s much better to hang on to the employees you have then to constantly recruit, hire, and train new ones.

Those who favor red energy can be excellent leaders. With a little conscious effort to slow down, practice empathy, and engage in an open discussion, red energy leaders can be both well-loved and effective.

 

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The 5 Personalities You Want On Your Team

5 Personalities for Team

When looking to hire new employees for your company, consider a different approach. Usually an interview is filled with questions regarding past work experience, and relevant skills.

What are your greatest strengths?

What are your biggest weaknesses?

Why should we hire you?

Try delving deeper.

Ask questions that unearth the applicant’s personality, as well as her skill set. Get to know the applicant by framing the interview like a conversation in which you pay attention to the applicant’s personality traits and try to determine which role she could fill within your business.

Which personality gaps exist within your workplace? Are you lacking, say, creativity? Or leadership? To develop balance, harmony, and efficiency within your team, it’s a good idea to have representation of each of the five following personalities:

1. The Leader

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” -John C. Maxwell

A leader inspires, energizes, and encourages others. A leader is comfortable supervising and managing the rest of the team. She must be able to resolve conflict and provide helpful feedback to keep the business growing. A leader isn’t necessarily extroverted, but she must be able to effectively communicate with all other personalities and properly delegate tasks when needed.

2. The Dreamer

“Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.”  -Robin S. Sharma

The dreamer dreams!—of more efficient futures, of better branding, of solutions to those ever-occurring problems. He thinks, How can I make this better? and maps out the answer. When a team is struggling to overcome an obstacle or make an improvement, it is often the creative minds of the dreamers that are able to find the solution.

3. The Go-getter

“To reach a port we must set sail —
Sail, not tie an anchor
Sail, not drift.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Go-getters get. things. done. They are determined, motivated, and dedicated to the task at hand. When confronted with an issue, they often use out-of-the-box thinking to overcome it and keep going. They also look for ways to help and step in when extra attention is needed, which is especially helpful when the company is trying to meet a strict deadline.

4. The Charismatic

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Charismatic people are like magnets—drawing people in, making others feel comfortable and connected. A truly charismatic person is a gem of a find. They are great listeners, emit confidence, and communicate clearly. They often do well working directly with customers and are particularly valuable on sales or customer service-oriented teams.

5. The Curious

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

Curious people like to learn. They ask questions, seek answers, and develop their skills. They are constantly delving into new topics and working to better themselves and the company. These are the “early adapters,” the ones who are unafraid to seek new paths and explore new possibilities.

 

By assessing and hiring employees with varying personality traits, you can ensure that your company is well-rounded—that the strengths of one person will overlap the weaknesses of another. Our differences don’t have to divide us; they can make us stronger.

Need help assembling your team? Contact Juli today.

Insights® Color Focus: Communicating with “a Blue”

Insights discovery blue energy

One of the things I like best about the Insights® Discovery program is the accessibility of the language. Even if you’re not familiar with this science-based assessment tool, it isn’t difficult to familiarize yourself with the basic concept. Essentially: All people have the capacity to behave and think in various ways, but we tend to emphasize or favor some methods over others. For example, outgoing, boisterous people have the capacity to tone down their energy and act discreetly, but they prefer an animated communication style, as opposed to a reserved one.

These tendencies are expressed in four different colors: blue, red, yellow, and green:

4 colors, good day

BLUE is associated with introversion and introspection. People who favor blue tendencies are often analytical, data-driven, and like to think carefully before they speak.

RED is associated with being brief and vocal. People who tend toward red often like to make quick decisions and aren’t afraid to exert their influence or step up as leaders.

YELLOW is associated with high energy and extroversion. Those who lean toward yellow are often highly social, enjoy brain storming sessions, and are generally not afraid to share their ideas.

GREEN is associated with a high level of empathy and awareness of others. Green-leaning people are generally steady and reliable and like to practice inclusivity.

KEEP IN MIND:

I am only barely scratching the surface of the Insights® Discovery model. There are many intricate parts to the model that can help build self-awareness, improve team dynamics, enhance communication, and develop leadership (contact me if you have questions about the potential benefits of Insights® for yourself or your team). However, this overview will give you a stepping stone for the focus of this blog post: communicating with someone who leads with blue energy.

As I touched on above, a blue-leading person is often quiet, analytical, and likes to understand the whole picture before making a decision. This type of personality can be difficult to interpret or communicate with, especially for red- and yellow-leaning individuals who tend toward extraversion and snappy decisions.

If you notice that someone is consistently quiet at company meetings, don’t write him off or assume he’s not interested. Instead, ask him for his input about what was just said. You might find out that he has reservations about a particular project or action because not enough research has been conducted or there are possible alternative routes that could be explored.

Let’s look at another situation. Imagine you are about to have a one-on-one meeting with someone who seems to be blue-leaning. It is best to come prepared with a meeting agenda that includes concrete statistics and thorough research. Keep in mind that a blue-leaning person may have tons of questions, but may be too reserved to ask them. Create a comfortable environment where asking questions is encouraged.

One last scenario: Let’s say you’re working on a team with a blue personality-type. She may not always offer up her ideas, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a valuable asset! Since blue-leaning people are so good with practical details, your teammate would be great at the planning/logistical side of the project. Make sure she’s able to find her sweet spot within the team.

And what if YOU tend toward “blue?”

Don’t be afraid to ask crucial questions and offer your input. And don’t assume that the rest of the team can see potential flaws like you can. Your analytical abilities and organizational skills are valuable and it’s a great help to your company when you share your insight or ask the questions that need to be asked when considering a new project or task.

This is just a small glimpse into the powerful way Insights® Discovery helps teams connect and communicate. I plan to regularly publish posts focusing on specific Insights® color energies, with the goal of leading you to a greater understanding of yourself and others.

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Your OS!M (A concept developed by Steve Farber)

Your OS!M, on taking daily risks

In my last newsletter, I discussed taking a personal leap and making a major career change. That was the kind of life-altering move that only comes around every once in a while. But there’s another kind of leap: the kind you have the potential to make every day.

If you are truly striving for growth or pursuing authentic leadership, you will encounter many moments where you’ll be required to take a leap—to either act and push forward, or stop and back away. This is the moment that Steve Farber, founder of Extreme Leadership calls your “Oh Sh**! Moment” or your OS!M. It’s the moment where you realize you’re on the edge of a major decision. You can either look your fear in the eye and overcome it, or you can back away.

Great leaders will choose to face their fears and do what they think is right, even if it’s scary to do so. If you’re not a little scared, you’re not achieving growth. As Steve Farber puts it, “[If] you’re not experiencing that visceral churning in your gut, and you’re not scaring yourself every day, and you’re not feeling that Oh Sh**!Moment as regularly as clockwork, then you are not doing anything significant—let alone changing the world—and you are certainly not leading anyone else.”

Ask yourself as you step into the New Year:

  • Have I challenged myself lately?
  • Do I regularly stand up for my beliefs and values?
  • When was the last time I took a substantial leap?
  • What vision do I have for myself and my leadership and how can I achieve it?
  • What’s holding me back from making major changes?

Are you ready to embrace your fear and face your OS!Ms? Let’s talk.

Leverage Your Team’s Strengths with Insights Discovery

Teamwork 1

Last week, the Kansas City Royals won their first World Series game in 30 years, and it got me thinking about teamwork. To have a top-notch team like the Royals, you have to have great pitchers, hitters, fielders and base runners. You need a diverse set of talents and excellent communication between all players.

Not so different from a work team, is it?

When you’re part of a professional team, you need a lot of the same attributes as the KC Royals—diversity of skills, great communication, discipline, motivation—but work teams are not hand-selected like professional baseball teams. You might encounter clashing personalities, a lack of understanding, poor communication, or misaligned goals.

How can you work with a team when not everyone is on the same page? Insights® Discovery can help.

Insights® is a science-based program that helps you gain a better understanding of yourself and others by using a simple, four-color model to articulate aspects of your personality. We are all capable of tapping into each of the four colors on the wheel, but the average person typically “leads” with one or two of the four color energies (more on Insights® Discovery HERE).

By giving you and your co-workers the language to talk about and explore your differences and similarities, Insights® helps create understanding and empathy among teammates. It may help explain why Joe is always quiet (he might lead with blue energy and is therefore highly analytical and likes to think over all the data before he speaks) and why Lucy seems abrasive at times (she may lead with red energy and likes to see immediate action).

Insights® also helps teammates appreciate their differences and better understand what roles might be suitable for certain people and unsuitable for others (i.e. those that lead with yellow energy enjoy planning and brainstorming ideas, but usually do not like sitting down with data and analyzing it).

The best teams are diverse groups of people that have an excellent understanding of one another and know how to leverage each other’s talents. You wouldn’t want a catcher playing center field, would you? The same applies to your team.

How can you get started with Insights® Discovery? As an Insights® Licensed Practitioner, I can guide you. Contact me today and let’s talk about making a positive change for you and your entire team.