Personality awareness for successful cooperation

Have just read Mark Suster’s post “How to Run Better Presentations & Improve Results” ( and wanted to repost some of the key takeaways as he mirrors my thinking and experience. If you don’t subscribe to Mark’s blog… do!

Key takeaways:

1. Determine the personality type.

Is the person an extrovert or an introvert – a talker or a listener. In my previous post I started to touch on this point. I find that getting engagement from a person largely depends on whether I have identified if I am talking to an Alpha or a Coordinator. If you want to get something from them, you need to know how they like to be approached.

As Mark says, “Extroverts like to have the answers presented to them up front” while coordinators usually want to understand the implications, the ‘load-shedding’ and the net effect personally and to the team. Both want to be involved in the decision but it is how the information is presented and how they are invited to participate that is key to getting buy-in.

I have a client who is extremely smart and really knows the business sector but has a limited ability to quickly ascertain his audiences personality and marches into conversations with a very well rehearsed presentation. Where it fails is that he won’t have changed the tone, delivery or structure to fit who he is talking to. The whole purpose of the initial small talk is to gauge each other – this is the time of two antelope measuring each other up before jumping into antler lunges.

2. Audience attention span.

In the initial chit chat determine what the person’s attention span is. Do they flutter about a lot? Do they change subject frequently? Do they appear to listen but not react to what you are saying? If the person you are trying to do business with has a short attention span – give them the ammunition to keep their mind able to jump from one point to the next while you are talking and be ready to follow in this dance. Key is to be sure of your information, know what you are talking about and be prepared beforehand. Mark says “If you dawdle my brain moves elsewhere” and this is why you want to keep them on side.

3. Drivers can be bullies.

Mark makes a great point about people who are Drivers, highly expressive with a ‘task oriented’ process. They can be low EQ people but this can be used to your advantage, by using a little human centred therapy technique, you can quite easily pull them into your camp, a bit like puppy training with an over excited Jack Russell. When they are criticising or debating, take their comment, internalise it, repeat it back to them and follow up on how your opinion differs. This is good to defuse the tension, slow the pace and to turn the conversation. Raising to the barrage would only be a sign of battle which is part of what a bully is looking for. This situation does not need to be too different and it can be quite good to have a ‘bully’ on your side rather than not. Take the time to win them over with logic. Chinese martial arts and the theory of Chi has a good analogy – water always gets to the sea, rocks and boulders only change the course. Stay focused on your goal and find the path with less resistance to get the Driver on side.

4. Coordinators.

Like a true logistics person, a coordinator is analytical and can seem introverted. While in discussion they are very often running scenarios, possibilities and analysing the risk/reward etc. Coordinators struggle to jump into a conversation, rather, they need to know the journey. These are people who need a map, and your presentation to them should be delivered in this way. As Mark says, “Analytics generally don’t want the answer up front. They want process. They want deduction. They want numbers, facts, figures, analysis, proof – dispassionate conclusions. They hate being ‘sold to’ but want to fast-track your journey and see if they come to the same conclusion.

Business is done by people – it works or fails based on how well you and your colleagues, clients and partners understand each other. Understanding is both down to the verbal and non verbal. The initial dance that starts with a hand shake is key, use it to understand what type of person you are meeting and be open to their mode and personality. Do check out Marks blog, the framework chart is a good one.