The Importance of People
"Would you mind doing this our way?"
We are so well intentioned. Nearly everyone, it seems, talks a good game when it comes to being open, accepting others' differences, and staying on top of our fast-changing world. If we were to ask you, "Will you be open with us?" or "Would you do this our way?" you'd probably respond, "Of course!" And you'd most likely mean it.
But life, as we know all too well, just isn't that simple.
Accepting others' differences is a difficult thing to do for even the most open-minded individual. One way that we deal with differences-in looks, behavior, attitudes, or anything else-is through name-calling: "He's such an eager beaver." "She's kind of a motor mouth." "He's as skinny as a bean pole." And on and on. Name-calling is a convenient way of cataloging or labeling an individual's characteristics. It's one of the most natural things we do.
Nowhere does name-calling have more impact than at work. Our co-workers, bosses, subordinates, and customers provide a wealth of material for name-calling, whether we think these things or actually say them. That colleague down the hall who insists on bursting into your office every time he's got something to say, regardless of how little you may welcome the intrusion, is dubbed a chatterbox. That customer who insists on reading every word of every document-twice-is known as a nitpicker. The employee who always wants to do things her own way is called a rebel. And the superior who never gives you praise no matter how hard you work is referred to as a coldhearted jerk. And it isn't even time for your morning coffee break!
The fact is each of us has his own style, his own preferences, and his own ways of facing life's challenges. One person's laid-back style is another person's lack of motivation. Your thinking out loud is our annoying distraction. Someone's need to keep up with change is someone else's conviction to not fix what ain't broken. Those differences in style can lead to a great deal of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and resentment. And in the process feelings get hurt, communication channels break down, and a host of organizational illnesses proliferate, from absenteeism to alcoholism. Left unchecked, productivity and profits, to say nothing of morale, will inevitably plummet.
At work our good intentions are further tested by the increasingly diverse nature of our jobs and workplaces. Almost every imaginable culture and gender truth is being challenged. It's rare these days that someone stays with a company for more than a few years; we're almost expected to jump from job to job, and even career to career, over the course of our work lives. Everything about the workplace seems to be in flux; the technology, the language, our job descriptions, our ethics, and sometimes our very selves. Wherever you sit in your organization-at the top, middle, or bottom-the challenges are greater, the pace is quicker, and "the future" is closer than ever before.
The ability of some companies to survive and even thrive amid all this turmoil is directly linked to the degree with which employees and management communicate effectively with one another. We're not talking necessarily about an open and frank exchange of views, or about becoming best friends with your bosses, colleagues, and subordinates. We're talking about turning the many differences among us into powerful tools instead of divisive intrusions. We're talking about putting our good intentions to work in a way in which everybody wins.
We're talking about Typewatching.
Typewatching is a constructive response to the inevitability of name-calling. Labels are perfectly natural; that's how we distinguish one thing or person from another. Typewatching is based on the notion that as long as we're going to label one another, we might as well do it as skillfully, objectively, and constructively as possible. It is an organized, scientifically validated system that has been used for more than forty years by individuals and organizations that want to communicate better. It can be used in any workplace of any size and can be applied to a wide range of organizational activities, from hiring and firing to marketing and sales. With only moderate practice it can help bosses boss, workers work, managers manage, and salespeople sell. Best of all, Typewatching can be fun.
The more you learn about Typewatching, the more you will see that its application by no means ends when you leave work. Indeed Typewatching can be as varied and as useful as the people you encounter every day: friends, lovers, spouses, parents, children, neighbors, and veritable strangers. (Our previous book, Type Talk, an introduction to Typewatching, offers a broad range of everyday situations in which Typewatching can increase understanding and communication.) In our counseling, training, and seminars we have helped people make career changes, settle old scores with their parents (or children), straighten out their finances, even gain control of their eating habits. We apply Typewatching to everything, including friends, associates, children, pets, and the plans for our own wedding.
You needn't do that, of course, but there is a reasonable possibility that the more you Typewatch, the more ways you will find to use it. In fact some people find it mildly addicting, although such an addiction isn't something to be concerned about. One of the great advantages of Typewatching, as we've learned over the years, is that it is a judgment-free psychological system, a way of explaining "normal" rather than abnormal behavior. There are no good or bad "types" in Typewatching; there are only differences. Typewatching celebrates those differences, using them constructively rather than to create strife. It enables us to view objectively actions that we might otherwise take personally. With Typewatching, the tendency for someone to be constantly late to meetings or appointments, for example, might be viewed as a typological characteristic rather than a personal affront or a character defect. Someone for whom following detailed instructions doesn't come naturally can be viewed in a more positive, constructive light. In short, Typewatching elevates name-calling from a negative, "put-down" tactic that mainly produces distance and distrust to a positive, healthy exercise with the potential for producing not just harmony but synergy at work as well as at home.
The Importance of People
The positive, people-oriented nature of Typewatching makes it an especially appropriate technique for the workplace of the 1990s and beyond, an environment in which human capital-people-is being increasingly recognized as one of the key ingredients for organizational success. Harnessing the power of that human-capital investment means relying more than ever before on relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, and oneself. These relationships are the building blocks of today's successful companies.
Take a look around your organization. Chances are it relies more than ever on manipulating information and providing personal services. To do these things effectively requires good work relations, teamwork, and employees who are motivated and cooperative. This relationship-centered workplace requires that you understand those around you-those above and below you as well as your colleagues, customers, and suppliers-so that you may connect quickly and intensely with them to solve the problems at hand. Success at any level requires that you must rely heavily on others and be tuned in to each individual's needs, preferences, and styles. Simply put, you must become a people expert.
Our failure to do this in the past can be directly linked to what has become a litany of discouraging statistics about the American workplace. It's difficult to read the business press without hearing, for example, that nearly half the work force expends only the minimum effort needed to get by, according to the National Commission on Productivity, or that fewer than half of American workers think their bosses properly motivate them, as a survey by Wyatt Co. found out in 1987. Even worse news came from a national survey released in 1989 that found that fully 43 percent of American workers believe that "lying, putting on a false face, and doing whatever it takes to make a buck" are part of our basic human nature. And it isn't just the rank and file that is at issue here. A survey of four hundred managers' attitudes about trust and loyalty conducted by Carnegie Mellon found that fully one third of them distrust their own direct bosses and over half don't believe top management.
Is it any wonder that stress-related problems are costing American companies $150 billion a year in reduced productivity and increased absenteeism?
We aren't about to suggest that Typewatching will eliminate all of these problems, but we can assure you that it can go a long way toward helping you find solutions to your organization's present and future challenges. By dramatically improving communication and understanding, Typewatching will allow you to draw on your own organizational and individual strengths. It's truly amazing: With relatively little effort Typewatching permits intractable people problems to get resolved, longtime squabbles between departments to get ironed out, work-flow logjams to unclog, and chronically missed deadlines to get met. We've seen it happen time after time with our clients, which include Fortune 500 companies such as HSBC, AT&T, IBM, Ford Motor Company, and Bell Atlantic; government agencies, including all four branches of the U.S. armed forces; and many smaller entrepreneurial firms.What Typewatching Can Do
In some ways we're in the business of teaching people the obvious, of helping them to experience at a new level what they already know. As you'll see in the chapters that follow, there is practically no limit to the applications of Typewatching at work, from individual problem solving to restructuring entire companies. Here are just a few of the types of problems for which we've found it useful:
*There are some individuals who, by virtue of their personality preferences, are natural at engaging people and making them feel at ease and affirmed. But others of a different type, especially those of the opposite sex, can interpret that behavior as a sexual come-on. The result can be a flurry of miscommunication that can lead to anything from bruised feelings to mistrust to charges of sexual harassment. Similarly other individuals' natural behavior to be cool and aloof can be misinterpreted as anything from simple disinterest to outright sexual or racial discrimination. By understanding others' behavior in typological terms, we can often avoid misreading their behavior by recognizing that, though different than ours, theirs is a natural way of relating.
*Some individuals are natural at responding to constantly changing situations. Their energy for completing tasks can come in last-minute surges. (These are the midnight-oil burners.) Unfortunately these individuals tend to start more projects than they finish, and it's not uncommon for them, if they make a list, to have more items on it by the end of the day than they started with. The result can be perceived by others (the list and PERT chart makers) as missed and stretched deadlines, lack of follow-through, and a general sense of chaos. Typewatching helps us to understand that this type's productivity is maximized when they're allowed to work in their own style. To try to "shape them up" will almost always create a no-win situation.
*Another type of individual, one whose natural style is to generate ideas and inspire big-picture thinking, often rises to the top of organizations, or these people find themselves heading their own company or division. But such positions of responsibility also require a discipline and attention to details that they find not only unappealing but also extremely stressful. Their distaste for such specifics often leads to their avoiding dealing with them. In the long run these rising stars can burn themselves out. By understanding Typewatching, they might learn to delegate more freely or otherwise find some way of coping with something they know is not their forte.
These are admittedly brief scenarios, albeit everyday ones, and are only a taste of the rich variety of daily problems that Typewatching can address. But before we can offer more specific applications, it's first necessary to explain the basic principles behind Typewatching.
How Typewatching Works
Do you prefer people who are the same as you or people who are different? If you're like most people, you are initially attracted to people who are different, but over time you find that those differences don't wear well. In fact, whether with a boss, employee, or customer, after the initial attraction has subsided, you may find yourself quite intolerant of the differences. If you are in a position to do so, you might even demand that these differences simply be eliminated: "Shape up or ship out." If you are not in a position to make such demands, you may simply become distant and alienated.
It is interesting that we think we prefer differences yet in reality few of us make much allowance for them. Though we may say, and truly believe, "different strokes for different folks," we are nonetheless resistant to those who choose to "do their own thing." In an organizational setting, such nonconformity may be viewed as disloyal at best, dangerous or destructive at worst. But with Typewatching you will gain enough insight to understand the attractiveness of some of those differences and will develop the patience to allow them to exist for the benefit of the individuals-as well as the entire organization.
The whole process starts with understanding yourself. Typewatching allows you to identify your personal preferences and how you are similar to and different from those with whom you work. You can identify where those similarities and differences make for harmony and where they cause discord.
With that in mind, let's take a look at how your preferences are formed and what they mean for your life. Such self-insight is the key to Typewatching.
The Birth of a Type
According to typological theory, each of us is born with a predisposition for certain personality preferences. There are four pairs of preference alternatives:
Extraverted (E) or Introverted (I)
Sensing (S) or iNtuitive (N)
Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
Keep in mind that these eight labels reflect preferences. By way of analogy, think of left- versus right-handedness. If you are right-handed, it doesn't mean that you never use your left hand. It simply means you prefer the right. And you may prefer it strongly, in which case you make relatively little use of your left hand, or you may prefer it barely at all, in which case you border on being ambidextrous. The same is true for the preferences listed above. You may prefer one characteristic a great deal and another only slightly. As we further examine the preferences, describing the two sides of each pair, you may find that you identify with both. Within each pair, however, there is one that you prefer-that you rely upon and to which you more naturally gravitate.
Excerpted from Type Talk at Work (Revised) by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen and Hile Rutledge. Copyright © 2002 by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen and Hile Rutledge. Excerpted by permission of Delta, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.