How to plan a meeting that people won’t dread—Part II

Planning a meeting that people won't dread—Part IIRole Plays. Skits. Improv. These words strike fear into my heart. I know these methods can be great ways to work through a tricky problem, and many people love the opportunity to actively engage with an idea or challenge by getting up and acting it out. Even I’ll admit that I love the fun and energy in the room when my colleagues perform (I have many talented and hilarious colleagues). But I’ll do just about anything to stay off the stage myself.

Last week I wrote about some ways that you can plan meetings and events that meet the needs of more Business Chemistry types more of the time. This week I’ll continue that theme, starting with a discussion of these anxiety-producing (for me) kinds of activities.

When quieter types hesitate to get involved we sometimes implore them to “get out of their comfort zone” and “stretch” This kind of encouragement can be helpful if someone just needs a little push to get there. However, for others, improv and role plays are too far from comfort, and if someone’s totally preoccupied by performance anxiety, they’re probably not focused on learning. On the flip-side, for others, sitting too long and listening or discussing is boring, boring, boring. And if someone is bored, they’re not learning much either. For many of these folks, the chance to use their creativity and acting chops keeps them interested.

A key here is to make it okay for people to participate in different ways. While some people can’t wait to get into the spotlight (ahem, Pioneers), others are more comfortable participating offstage, developing a script, suggesting an improv scenario, creating a prop, recording a video, cheering their colleagues on, or summarizing learning in a wrap-up conversation. So yes, let’s all stretch a little, but not so far that we pull any muscles.

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Business Chemistry matters when change is afoot…

Chameloen.One of my favorite things about teaching Business Chemistry to teams is myth-busting. And one of the most common myths we need to bust is that Pioneers are “good” at change and no one else is. Now, it may be true that Pioneers are naturally more comfortable with change, or that they even relish it more than the other types. And it may also be that their adaptable natures make it a bit easier on them. But, thinking through the strengths and challenges of each type reveals that they all have something important to contribute in times of change, and also that they all may need a bit of help adjusting, in one way or another. So if you’ve got a big change coming, or you’re in the middle of one right now, keep the following in mind.
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Flex Your Influence Style to Boost Your Impact

You and I don’t know each other. And yet, I’m pretty sure we have something important in common. And further, what you and I have in common we also share with leaders of all kinds, politicians, sales reps, and my 10-year-old son. What might that be, you ask? We all spend a lot of time and energy trying to influence others.

What we may not share are the strategies we most commonly use in our influence attempts. I tend toward supporting my point of view with evidence and data. My son, on the other hand, has perfected the strategy of wearing people down through relentless requests.

Depending on your Business Chemistry type, some influence strategies may be more natural for you and some more of a stretch. While there is power in focusing on your strengths, there is also evidence that when it comes to influence, using more strategies is better, so it probably pays to work on adding some of the stretch strategies to your arsenal.1

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Stuck in the status quo? Why Guardians are risk averse…

Why are Guardians Risk Averse?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Guardians lately. In particular, I’ve been wondering why they sometimes seem a bit stuck in the status quo, preferring to do things the same way they’ve always done them rather than experiment with new approaches. Have you ever noticed that?

As I thought about it I realized that actually, research has shown that it’s not just Guardians–there’s a general tendency for people to make decisions that maintain the status quo. There’s even a name for it—the status quo bias—and psychologists have hypothesized that it’s a self-protective mechanism1. In order to break from the status quo we need to take action, and doing so requires accepting responsibility and opening ourselves up for criticism. Since most of us don’t particularly like to be criticized, keeping things as they are is a much safer choice.

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