Decoding Behavioral Styles: Hack Your Work Relationships

behavior style

How behaviors manifest themselves is an incredibly complex topic. Behavioral styles help bring simplicity to the forefront.

  • Why does he keep interrupting me? After all, I’m patient when he’s talking!
  • Why is she so stuck on the details? I just wanted to share an idea!
  • He’s just so over the top and talkative, I can’t get anything done around him!
  • If only she spoke up and stood her ground, instead of making me feel guilty for not giving her the mic!

Working with humans is a tricky thing. Actually, that’s the understatement of the century! Working with humans and attempting to navigate workplace interactions is the most complex thing ever! Not only do we all come hardwired differently in our brains, with our own personal algorithms and worldview perceptions, but the situations we encounter are rather unique too.

In short: Understanding quantum physics, easy. Navigating human behavior, arghhhh!

Therefore, since we lack a personal ‘Tom Hanks’ as a coach to help us decipher the human ‘Da Vince Code’, we need to generate our own type of behavioral style decoder, to enable us to map out human behavior and quickly profile people in a positive and constructive way.

behavioral style

It’s been said…

Research this, research that, there’s been lots and lots of hypothesizing and research conducted on personality types and patterns of behavior throughout the ages. But most theories tend to point us in the direction of four or five clusters of behavioral tendencies, preferences, and reflex reactions. Important to note here, that here at Talent Hacks, we are not advocates for one theory or another, rather, we base our own insights on standing on the shoulders of giants and from our professional experience of interacting with thousands of people the world over.

The Basics of Behavioral Styles

Below are the main labels we use to categorize people in terms of their behavioral styles. And please keep in mind that people are never one and not the other; rather, we are all unique patterns of all styles.

Commanders

These people are your born leaders (at least, that’s how they see themselves!) They’re decisive, opinionated, bold, and they’re at their best when steering the ship through stormy seas. Great emergency/crisis leaders. But…they tend to struggle with nuances in diplomacy and patience. Here, at Talent Hacks, one of the members of our team is a pure Commander. Care to guess which one?

Energizers

Energizers are the life of the party, the social glue of any team (and yes, they tend to go overboard with this with lots of ‘me, me, me’ moments!) They spark creativity, they’re ‘people’ people, and it’s often like they’ve got ants in their pants. But…they tend to struggle with containing their thunderous approach and their unrpredictable excitement.

Analyzers

These people tend to be your typical devil’s advocates and detail-sticklers (they’ll find the needle in your haystack, but you might not like their delivery when they spot it!) They’re structured, detail-focused, and unafraid to divulge their observations. But…their quest for perfection can sometimes lead to alienating others who don’t have the stomach for a dose of cold “objectivity”.

Harmonizers

Harmonizers are the team’s peacekeepers, the team’s heart (and more often than not, the team’s silent guilt-trip too!) They are empathetic, cooperative, friendly, and great at building solid, long-lasting relationships. But…they tend to find themselves lost in the shadow of more dominant personalities.

Understanding behavioral styles isn’t about pigeonholing individuals but recognizing the diverse strengths and approaches each brings to the table. After all, if we were all the same, it’d be a pretty bland life we’d be living! A population of clones.

behavioral style

Reading the Room - Identifying Behavioral Styles in Action

The question we now need to address is how to spot these styles at work and, once you’ve spotted them and generated a hypothesis regarding an individual’s style, how do you proceed to validate it or invalidate it, in order to hack their behavior and communicate more effectively with them?

I know you probably wish this part was science, but it’s actually a blend of science and art. It often involves sitting on a metaphorical bench and people-watching; making observations and collecting evidence for who did what and who said what in a variety of contexts. Do keep in mind though that inaction, when action is expected of someone, is also behavior.

All you can do is notice how your colleagues communicate during meetings, during one-to-one interactions, how they deal with conflict or debate, how they work alone or as part of a team on a project, how they motivate themselves, what kind of image do they strive to project unto others, and so on.

Who’s more direct and to the point, often railroading others to get their say? Who seems to enjoy the spotlight a little too much and seems to talk nonstop at times, even when it’s crunch time and the team’s gearing up to get on with tasks? Who’s more harsh with their feedback or more matter-of fact with their observations and scrutiny? Who seems more likely to be a friendly but silent team member, working in the background to help the team achieve its objectives?

These cues are your breadcrumbs to revealing their personalities.

Communication Hacks - Tailoring Your Message

Once you’ve mapped the terrain and made some initial assumptions about what behavioral style might define each of your colleagues, the next step is to find ways to hack their behavior and to tailor your communication.

If you’re speaking to a Commander? You’ll want to be extra concise and focus heavily on outcomes. Kind of like speaking in bullets. Respect their time as they tend to be busy individuals.

How about communicating with an Energizer? Well, you want to make them feel as the centre of your attention, but constrain their enthusiasm at the same time by having some clear structure to follow in your messages. Stick to storytelling principles and you’ll be fine (rule of three, punchline, etc.)

And what of the Analyzer? These people want clear communication that is honest and direct in the outcome you expect from them. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t talk in circles, just get to the point without much added fluff.

When communicating with a Harmonizer? Give them your undivided attention, spend the time to break the ice and make them comfortable, and speak with them like you would with a friend.

Be wary of forming fixed stereotypes

It’s gets easier to hack people’s behavior if you have a hypothesis from which to work from. You just need to observe their behavior, interact with them, tweak your hypothesis, and do it all over again, until you’ve reached a conclusive (but not too conclusive!) picture of who this person might be.

But be warned! When trying to profile people, you should never solidify your assumptions of them into fixed stereotypes. Because, as already mentioned, people are a mix of all these styles and more. And this means that the person we are, and the behavioral style we seem to exhibit, is not a constant in all contexts. Sometimes, the situation or the people involved might cause a Commander to take on a softer approach to working with their colleagues. Sometimes, the Harmonizer might surprise you with their bold outlook on life and their ‘bark’.

Think about yourself for a second; don’t some situations or people cause you to behave unlike yourself? I’m sure it seems like that to others around you, every now and then!

A Hacking Mindset - Beyond Behavioral Styles

Understanding and adapting to behavioral styles is merely the opening act. Self-awareness follows, with keen insight about who you are and why you behave the way you do (your reflex reactions, your triggers, your stressors). But the true artistry lies in applying this knowledge to cultivate a workplace that thrives on diversity, mutual respect, and genuine collaboration. It’s about creating an environment where everyone can be their best selves, contributing unique perspectives and talents toward shared goals. That’s the ultimate!

This entire journey of behavioral discovery and adaptation is not a solo venture but a collective expedition. In an ideal world, we would help each other out in understanding ourselves and appreciating what we each bring to the table. So, with that said, let’s decode, adapt, and thrive together, building work environments where everyone feels valued, understood, and empowered. Here’s to a collective ‘hacking mindset’ for working with humans!

Deano

Deano Symeonides

CHRO of Talent Hacks and Overall Friendly Person(OFP). He is a business psychologist with a passion for pushing people. To grow and develop. As a content creator and a learning & development expert, his mission is to blend deep content with serious edutainment.

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