I noticed when I was in a foreign capital city recently how easy it was to categorise people by their type. Standing at a busy pedestrian crossing I would notice those who would cross at the first viable opportunity, whether the lights were on green or not, they would be off and across the road, almost defying the traffic, or anything else to challenge them. Then there were others who would not cross even though it was apparently safe and legal to do so until the lights had turned green in confirmation. Some were noticeably left on the pavement as people streamed past them reluctant to move a step until they had “permission” from the electronic signals.
It amused me to think how often and predictably we behave according to our type. Now there is nothing wrong with this but I would ask you to try and work out what your type is. You can, but you don’t need to use any sophisticated behavioural profiles to do this.
Then ask yourself these three questions
1. What are the particular strengths of my style?
2. What are the less helpful aspects of my style?
3. What are the dangers of my style?
We will always revert to our natural styles and there is no right or wrong style. All styles will have helpful and not so helpful aspects. Understanding our own styles and answering these questions helps raise our natural preferences from the unconscious to the conscious mind and allows us then to start to make conscious choices about the style of behaviour that we can employ in any given circumstance. We have all heard the expression “if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you’ve always got”. The first step in having a choice over our behaviour is root in the self-awareness of what our natural style is and then being able to display the flexibility to choose to do something different, when and where appropriate.
Remember that in any human interaction the person with the most flexibility is likely to come out on top. One of the greatest skills to develop is that of flexibility.
Flexibility coupled with conscious choice is a potent mix.
What can you do to practice and improve your behavioural flexibility?