27 Mar How to use personality to get the most out of people?

Every experience, situation or conversation is taken through these filters, which give us remarkable insight into why we do what we do. They explain why we continue to behave as we do when we know our patterns of behaviour limit us or make us unhappy. They explain why it is that some people are able to outclass others at certain tasks; why it is that you like the people you like and dislike the people you dislike; why your family, friends and mother-in-law drive you crazy at times! (By the way, my mother-in-law is great!)

When we work out our own filters, it enables us to have self-respect and self-confidence. This enhanced self-acceptance empowers us to make necessary changes to the way we approach people and tasks. It gives us a greater ability to create strategies for dealing with difficult or frustrating people and situations, and allows us to communicate with others more effectively. This means you can be happier and more persuasive with improved relationships. You will become more tolerant of others, get more of what you want in life and build instant rapport with everyone.

Let me give you some examples. If your employee is not checking in with the team for updates it could be they are an individual player – that is, they prefer to operate on their own. If you have someone who is constantly asking for help, guidance and advice they may have an external frame of reference – they need external feedback to know if it’s the right decision or action to take. You need to give them that feedback to support them until you find ways of helping them develop a way of working out problems for themselves. If you are a particularly nervous presenter, even after learning all the tips and tools used by exceptional presenters, then you probably have a perfection sort – a need to be perfect. Understanding this allows you to manage your expectations of yourself when presenting. If you go on holidays and enjoy the people you meet more than the scenery or the activities you engage in then you may have a people preference.

Meta-programs put labels on our differences and help us to understand why people act the way they do. From there, provided we are open to being flexible in our approach and style, we can make a plan to improve our relationships and outcomes. For example, if you are a business development manager with a client who has a team preference then you would tell them all about what’s happening in your organisation and invite them to internal events so they feel part of your team. If they had an activity preference (enjoy activities rather than people or places) then you might entertain them at a golf day. If they had an internal frame of reference then you would ask them, ‘What do you think?’ rather than telling them what they should do. Alternatively, if they had an external frame of reference you might give them lots of client testimonials, explain what other people are doing and saying about your organisation or service, and advise them what and how to buy from you.

Here is another example: imagine you’re a manager with an employee who has a sort by others preference (meaning they put others ahead of themselves) and they have a preference to match what is being said (meaning they agree and add value to your opinion, rather than mismatch it or find holes in your argument). The ideal role for this person might be in customer service where the ‘customer is always right’. If they have the opposite preferences, then please don’t put them on the customer service desk!

These are just some examples and of course there’s a lot more to it. Meta-programs are a simple way of categorising our various preferences, and people always love learning about themselves. That’s why I have developed a keynote speech called ‘Why is everyone around you so dysfunctional?’ – it’s a hoot!