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Can't get a word in edgewise with a colleague or team member? Try this

| Laurie Brown |

It's Monday morning, and your team is gathered around for the first meeting of the week. Just as you go to get started, you hear John talking and laughing in the corner.

"You will never guess what happened to me this weekend."

"I have the craziest story about that client…."

If you don't stop him now, he could go on (and on, and on), while you have your own agenda for a productive meeting. You just want to get to the point and get out already!

We all have a John in our office. We love their vibrant personality, but sometimes it can be hard to get to the point with someone who loves to chitchat.

Or you may be reading this and recognizing that you are the John in your office, holding sway at the front of the room with ease, while some of your team members roll their eyes because they want "just the facts, ma'am."

They're just jealous, you think, as you launch into a funny story about the client you just got to re-up at twice their previous investment—and they thanked you for it.

So here's the deal. It's not that John's stories aren't important; in fact, they're key to a successful organization.

People with this type of personality and communication style often have undeniable charisma and charm. And because they are so successful at wooing their audience, they are often your go-to person to build rapport, get a recalcitrant team member back on track, or otherwise gain buy-in with stakeholders.

Heck, John may be your boss. It is not uncommon for these relationship-driven folks to rise to the top because, Hello. Leaders need to inspire and motivate their people.

At the mid-to senior leadership level, it becomes less about what you DO, and more about WHO you influence.

But say you are NOT John and you have deadlines to meet and his storytelling is about to take over your meeting… This is another classic example of how personalities clash and complement each other at work.

So, if it's your responsibility to manage up and down the ladder, bridging team members and senior leadership, to ensure your projects get done and your goals met, understanding different personalities and how they communicate is a required skill, for your success AND your sanity.

This is where knowing your people's DiSC profiles help.

This self-assessment tool is perfect for both self-reflection and team collaboration. It can help you grow closer as a team and better understand each person's communication preferences to avoid unnecessary conflict.

In our last blog post, we talked about personality type "D," the direct, dominant Eagle. Today, we explore "I."

About the "I" personality type: The Parrot

We use the popular bird analogy for DiSC profiles to make them easier to grasp, remember, and apply to your team: D stands for dominance (eagles), I for influence/interactive (parrots), S for steadiness/support (doves), and C for compliance/conscientiousness (owls).

Can't you already see John sprouting colorful feathers and a curved beak? Preening and cawing and stealing the show? I's are such parrots!

Individuals who have a significant influence on the social fabric of the business are categorized as I. On the spectrum of quick vs. process and task vs. relationship, they are relationship-oriented and quick.

These parrots are known for their colorful stories and talking about people and places. Here are a few other signs you or someone on your team is a parrot:

  • They are storytellers who thrive in a fun, fast-paced conversations and environments.
  • They focus on the big picture rather than details.
  • Parrots are not big on boring conversation, negativity, or rigid thinking.
  • They talk more than listen, go off on tangents, and laugh out loud.
  • Parrots have faster speech and lots of facial expressions.

Sometimes other personalities can find parrots a little loud and overwhelming and hard to keep up with at work.

Parrot, here's how not to ruffle your coworkers' feathers

If you're a parrot, it's only natural for you to want to speak up and share your thoughts on a topic, especially if it relates to your professional or personal life.

Once something has sparked your interest and brought a story to the tip of your tongue, it's hard to hold back. It's like lining up for seconds at the buffet…in the back of your head, you know it may or may not be the best idea, but you can't help yourself.

Try this next time you get the urge to go off on what may be taken as a tangent in a staff meeting:

"Oh, that reminds me of another project I did at my last job. {insert a quick summary here… you can do it!} I think we could follow a similar plan to produce even better results. Happy to share more details if it's helpful."

The key is bringing in elements of your story without going too far off-topic and tying it back into the main message or conversation topic. If you can involve your fellow team members in the discussion instead of dominating it, by asking questions or prompting them to share their own experiences, even better.

Dealing with a Parrot? Here's a survival guide

On the other hand, if you are an owl dealing with a parrot, it could feel tough to get a word in. Owls prefer information, data, and details while avoiding many conversations they find meaningless and "fluff."

Here's one way to address a parrot:

"Thanks for sharing. I'm glad I'm not the only one with that experience! Let's see how we can apply that to this project plan. Any suggestions?"

You may even find it helpful to take a note from Parrot's strengths if you're having trouble getting a fellow team member to cooperate with you. A little "meaningless" chitchat can go a long way toward building the necessary rapport and relationships to get things done. Small talk is not always a waste of time!

It's about meeting in the middle and acknowledging the value of each personality type and communication style without losing sight of your overall goals. Ideally, you have a balance between types on your team and in your organization.

Keep your team humming with DiSC profiles.

If you're interested in DiSC profiles and how they could make a difference to your team, stay tuned for upcoming articles on Owls and Doves.

I want every manager to have the necessary tools to understand better their team's communication preferences and how to work best together. If you're struggling to get a word in edgewise with your Parrot, book a complimentary discovery call with me today!