The 2010 annual meeting of the City Engineers Association of Minnesota (CEAM) got off to a lively start with a keynote address by David Rabiner, a speaker, trainer, and facilitator who has presented to more than 1,700 audiences in 12 countries and 44 states. Rabiner’s topic—How to Succeed, Stay Sane, and Have Fun at Work: A Survival Guide for the Public Sector—kept the audience laughing while learning some very practical tools for success.
His basic premise is that our ability to interact effectively with others is grounded in our understanding and acceptance of human differences. By understanding four general styles, and by learning which style we operate in at work, we can deal with others in the workplace far more effectively. His presentation was aimed at helping participants identify, accept, adapt to, and appreciate the dominant styles of others.
Rabiner asked participants to answer a series of questions about themselves and scored the results. The scores placed participants in one of four boxes that reflect four personality styles, loosely described as the peacemaker, entertainer, scholar, and achiever (see page 6). His point was simple: we all have different styles and all styles are needed to work effectively in any setting.
So, are people just plain difficult to work with? Or are they just different? Rabiner said that maintaining a healthy approach to others starts with understanding and accepting basic human differences. We can all become more effective in the workplace by identifying our own and our co-workers’ dominant styles and then learning to adapt to and accept those style differences.
Rabiner pulled some big laughs from participants as he described the personality styles and how each might irritate others in the workplace. The laughter came as participants immediately identified co-workers who fit the personality types Rabiner described.
The Peacemaker is a good listener, cooperative, and likes routine but avoids conflict, doesn’t speak up, can’t act alone or say no, and resists change.
The Entertainer is creative, energetic, and persuasive but also impulsive, easily bored, a poor listener, and not good on follow-through.
The Scholar is detail-oriented, organized, accurate, and good on follow-through but is also indecisive, nit-picky, inflexible, and slow.
The Achiever is decisive, competitive, focused, and gets things done but is also bossy, impatient, aggressive, and can be perceived as unfriendly.
To help participants begin thinking about ways to work with co-workers of other personality styles, Rabiner offered four “golden rules” related to each style. For example, when working with a “peacemaker,” he suggested keeping things predictable, using supportive, friendly language, and keeping them informed and involved. When working with an achiever, be direct and to the point, provide large, measurable goals, and involve them in challenging and competitive work.
“The first step is to learn to manage yourself and you do this by clarifying what you can and cannot control,” Rabiner said. For example, you can directly control your own thoughts and feelings and what you say and do. You can’t control the feelings and thoughts of co-workers, or what they say and do.
Rabiner emphasized that all four styles are needed in the workplace for smooth work flow. Thus, no one style is necessarily better or worse than another. The positive aspects of one style likely mesh with the negative aspects of other styles, creating a good balance.
Rabiner wrapped up his presentation with these words of advice: “Succeeding, staying sane, and having fun happens as a result of a relentless commitment to your principles and values.” Principles lead you to do what works and have confidence that the rest will follow. Values are important to you in and of themselves, such as your health or financial well-being. When principles are practiced repeatedly, they become a value that becomes part of you. So dealing with co-workers effectively can become a value through practice and repetition.
— Jeanne Engelmann, LTAP freelancer
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