Guide to Reducing Workplace Friction and Creating Truly Effective Communication

A key element of effective communication is being cognizant of the often subtle differences in how other people think and process information. We each believe that the way we perceive the world is the “correct” way, but the truth is, there is no correct way to view the world around us. These differences in perception are an important factor in what causes friction between people.

And this is not a new problem.

For thousands of years, people have tried to understand the intricacies of human perception, and the inevitable breakdowns in communication that occur. The Greek philosopher, scientist and physician, Hippocrates, wrote over twenty-three hundred years ago that all human beings could be divided into four distinct personality types, and evidence points back even further to similar concepts that existed among the ancient Egyptians.

The quest to categorize and understand different types of personalities continued through the 20th century, resulting in the development of personality type theory and temperament theory. These theories and the tools that were developed began to help people recognize, accept and learn to value the differences in others. The most useful of these tools brings theories into the realm of real-life applications, allowing people to identify temperament types and understand the strength of applying this information to their own communication style.

Where to begin…

The good news is that while the problems that people encounter in communication are universal, the ability to learn and master the art of communicating more effectively is possible. While we are born with a predisposition towards certain ways to view and interact with the world, we have the ability to grow and change how we interact. We don’t have to continue to have the same problems and conflicts!

Individual people can learn to use new information and tools to improve their own communications, but the real power in this paradigm shift is harnessed when groups of people who commonly communicate learn and practice these tools together.

What do temperament tools do?

Temperament tools provide a clear path for an individual to understand their own preferred communication style, and how that style can affect how they view the world and speak to others. How they “view the world” refers to how they tend to process information they receive. For example, do they tend to think in terms of abstract concepts or concrete ideas? Do they tend to think in terms of how things will affect others around them, or do they think more directly to the goal and the most efficient way to get there? Once you understand your own communication style and how that affects your communication with others, you can then learn about the other three communication styles, and how you can best alter your language, delivery method, or overall style to match that of your listener. In other words, when we “speak in the language of the listener” our message can be more accurately received.

Imagine what could happen if all of us did this!

In addition, in a workplace setting, manager and employees alike can learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of the temperament types, helping to place them in positions that will energize, motivate, and encourage them to be a valuable member of the team. Employers can learn what motivates their employees and use this knowledge to improve employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Employees can learn what stresses the temperament types, how they look when they are stressed, and how to help them through it. Understanding that the same event that may energize one person can cause another person a great deal of stress is an invaluable tool. Take change as an example. A change in the direction of a project may reenergize an employees who dislikes routine, while the same change may frighten and overwhelm another. Having this information before the change is implemented can greatly influence the outcome in how the change is received. The first employee may not need much notice or explanation, while the second employee will need some time to understand and prepare.

Temperament theory in practice

While there are many temperament tools out there, an important factor to consider is the need to see temperament theory in action and practice applying it in everyday life. We firmly believe that the best way to accomplish this is through in person training, in a group setting. Not only goes the group get to see the temperament type of the people they work closely with, but they get to see the world through the lens of each type. This is the type of information and practice that can only be obtained through experience and practice.


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