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How To Work With Different Decision Styles

Updated: Aug 24, 2018


Dealing With Others’ Decision Styles

To deal effectively with other people you ideally should identify both role and operating styles. Role styles are relatively easy to identify, inasmuch as they are the styles that you are likely to see first when meeting a person. To identify a person's operating style, however, may take longer. Nevertheless, even on a first meeting you may see a person's operating style break through as conversation and attention turn to substantive issues and the person becomes less conscious of the interpersonal relations aspects of the meeting. So, it is important to stay alert to subtle changes in the behavior of people you have only seen previously in formal situations.

To help you size up the styles of other people, Figure 5 shows a number of key behaviors and values that characterize different decision styles. These characteristics can be used as clues that will give you a "best guess" about a person's styles.

The last row in Figure 5, which deals with communicating, shows some of the reasons that communication between people can falter so easily. In many respects, communication between people with different decision styles resembles the proverbial ships passing in the night. The people may be speaking the same language, but more often than not they will remain "out of synch" and out of touch.

By making the effort to identify a person's styles you can significantly increase the probability of communicating and dealing effectively with that person. Figure 6 gives some basic pointers that you can use to adjust to the styles of other people. These pointers can be especially valuable when making presentations, selling, or negotiating. However, you can use them effectively also in everyday communications and dealings with others.

As Figure 6 shows, Decisive communications should be short and to the point, without elaborate explanations and analyses. Be sure not to keep a Decisive in suspense: you could lose the person's attention and confidence easily. Keep your points clear and stress the major benefits (but not too many) of accepting your recommendation.

With Flexibles, you also need to avoid elaborate detail and explanations. Be careful not to "beat an issue to death." If you do, your Flexible associate will begin to see you as plodding and dogmatic. Don't expect or push for long-term commitment. And, don't try to nail things down too specifically. Instead, look for agreement to try out one or two ideas. Then keep in touch with brief and general progress reports. Overall, try not to be too intense (so, watch out if your own style is Hierarchic).

The picture changes dramatically when communicating with Hierarchics. In this case, you will need to carefully construct your logic. Be sure to show that you used a lot of data to arrive at your conclusion or recommendation. Also, make it clear how you used the data on which you are basing your position. At all times, make sure to show your logic. Also, be sure to point out both short-term and long-term benefits you anticipate. Don't win an argument, but don't vacillate or acquiesce too easily either. Also, don't expect immediate acceptance of your point of view. Give your Hierarchic associate some time to mull things over. If possible, "prime the pump" by sending information supporting your point of view in advance. Hierarchics are unlikely to completely go along with an idea until they feel that they have convinced themselves of the wisdom of doing so..



With Integratives you can forget about getting a pre-conceived idea accepted without modifications. Integratives want to participate with you in the analysis of a problem and in the formulation of solutions. So, be prepared to have an interactive discussion. You must remain open to new ideas and alternatives. Expect to play give and take. React with interest to criticisms of your analysis or your proposals. Ask for input and alternative ideas. Keep some additional alternatives in the back of your mind at all times. Do not hold rigidly to one point of view. If you do, your Integrative associates simply will lose interest in your issue and your ideas. As with Hierarchics, don’t expect on-the-spot decisions. Try to get agreement for several strategies and keep your Integrative associates involved and informed. As you can see, communications with Integratives are dynamic and evolving; they are not events!Bear in mind that in dealing with the Systemic style, a combination of techniques for dealing with Hierarchics and with Integratives would be appropriate. Be even more diligent about keeping your Systemic associates informed and involved. Send supporting information in advance long before making a presentation or proposal. Don’t get into arguments. Show your openness, but keep the information and logic flowing. And, here again, forget about getting a recommendation or proposal accepted in its original form. If you run into obstinate resistance, table the issue diplomatically and try again another time.Clearly, there are many applications for these communication guidelines. Whenever people interact, style similarities and differences will importantly determine the outcomes of interactions. In particular, whenever interactions involve influencing decisions, styles play a critical role. For instance, in sales and marketing efforts, very large commitments of money and resources are often invested in attempts to promote sales, but usually without any reference to the actual or probable styles of customers. However, making a sale means influencing a decision. With this in mind, the style model has been used in the past few years in many countries as a basis for sales training. And, currently, organizations are beginning to use the model for purposes of large-scale customer style sensing, as the foundation for high-precision marketing efforts.We believe that these and many additional, innovative applications of the dynamic decision style model will emerge in the near future as pressure mounts to effectively manage our mounting dependence on information in this Age of Information.

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