Understanding Each Other

Now more than ever, let’s take a minute to improve our interactions by understanding one other. 

Many moons ago, one of my roles included putting the leadership teams of the companies we bought to work together. To start the process we asked everyone to take the Myers Briggs personality assessment instrument. After meeting with each individual privately to make sure they agreed with their profile, team building exercises began. We would create four teams with similar profiles to work together on the same real issue. For example, we asked “What should our process be for deciding which software tools should be used for xzy function?”. Results would be summarized on poster-sized flip chart pages everyone could see. All of us were amazed at how each group presented the results in a way that fit with their preference.  

The Dominant group would have a big picture 1,2,3 approach and be ready to put their plan into action. They wouldn’t get bogged down with too many details, but wanted to put an estimate on costs and move forward. Dominant groups just know they have identified the correct process. 

The Expressive group typically started with clarifying each other’s names, and then jumped into a creative approach —like word maps that use large circles for the most important concepts and smaller satellites for the many secondary issues. They would present their information in a casual way using stories and examples to enhance our understanding.  

The Analyticals would frequently choose the table farthest away from the front of the room. They carefully identified the objective, usually giving it a title to clarify and avoid scope creep, and then prepared the start of a comprehensive report. Only this group presented a very detailed I. A. 1, a, type of outline. This group wouldn’t stop until time was called and regularly identified issues that no one else thought of. 

The Amiable group generally started their time together making sure everyone was introduced and had each other’s contact info. Their approach was to start with the people aspects first — who is currently using which tool for which set of customers, and how this impacted them. Their presentation often raised “people” aspects of the topic as among the most important.  

In the end, we appreciated and understood each other more via these exercises. Selling your company (or buying one) is an important time to refresh your communications perspective. Getting to the goal line requires a lot of trust between the buyer, the employees, clients and other team members.  Here are some “short cut” tools you might like to refer to. 



Take them seriously, not personally.Ask more, tell less. 
Start with the bottom line. Be careful about eye contact & personal space. 
Paraphrase & playback agreements & understandings. Tell others when you are thinking out loud. 
Give them the big picture first. Back up & restate commitments after confirming info & time frames. 
Allow them 3-5 seconds to respond.Tell others when you need time to think
Ask for and answer with specific info. Prioritize “The List”: A Items must be done today, B items can wait. 
Give them time & space. Speak with more voice inflection & use a louder tone of voice. 
Give them specifics in a softer tone of voice. Be quicker to voice opinions. 


If you would like to discuss your situation on a confidential basis, call Alison at 224-688-8838 or email me at [email protected]. We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential. 

Alison Hoffman

Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio