People Reading

Learning is vital for growth. Most of us would agree with that, right? We have to be open and willing to learn in order to grow.

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to handle a world that no longer exists" according to Eric Hoffer.

So what are you learning lately? Have you been focused on your own learning?  Recently one of my coaching clients asked me, "What is the most important capability for me to focus on learning now?"  People Reading and being comfortable creating new conversations to lead your team was the answer we both agreed upon.

Thomas Harrell, a professor of applied psychology at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, wanted to identify the traits of the most successful alumni.  Studying MBAs for two decades after their graduation he found that the most important trait that was common among the class's most accomplished graduates was "verbal fluency."  In other words, their ability to confidently make conversations with anyone in any situation was the most significant determinant to their success. This research was done years ago and still rings true today.

The Communication Tips theme for the month of April will be on "People Reading."   Want to know why learning how to people read is vital for growth individually and organizationally?

This past week at an Executive Coaching conference in New York City I met the person at NASA who heads leadership development for rocket scientists. She told me, "The people side of our work is more complex than the technical side of our work. We are all systems engineers. The systems we work in are human systems, which are infinitely more complex than anything else we do." This means that understanding human interaction is more difficult than being a rocket scientist!

"People reading" is the phrase I use to understand human behavior and motivators. What causes a person to do what he or she does, what is predictable and how can we be more effective in communicating with all people? Understanding Workplace Motivators and Preferred Communication Styles is the first step in people reading. In Conversations for Change: 12 Ways to Say It Right When It Matters Most you will find chapters 2 & 3 are an overview of Workplace Motivators and Communication Styles. Reading the chapters alone is only the first step.

People reading takes practice. If you want to be really good at identifying another person's motivators and communication style, focus on people reading someone new every day for the next 60 - 90 days. Observe. Ask yourself, "Is this person being more task focused or people focused? Does the person prefer a faster pace and quick decision-making or a more methodical approach and at least three days to make a significant decision? The answers to these questions will help you identify their communication style preferences. What causes the person you are people reading to feel passionate or engaged? The answer will point you to their motivators.

People reading is one of the most interesting and entertaining things you can do because we are all different. However, once you learn what to look for and how to connect with others in meaningful ways based on their motivators and style, you will feel confident to speak with anyone - even a rocket scientist!