The Power of Understanding Yourself: The Key to Self-Discovery, Personal Development, and Being the Best You - Dave Mitchell 2019
Experts: It’s About the Process for Me
Only the first bottle is expensive.
— French wine proverb
Each of the four columns represents a sensitivity to your world. Knowing your level of sensitivity to these four elements of your surroundings is essential to truly understanding and defining your authentic self. In my previous book, The Power of Understanding People, I used the terms Expert (A column), Romantic (B column), Mastermind (C column) and Warrior (D column) to label these interactive styles. For readers of both books, I will continue to use those terms while adding a couple more helpful descriptors.
The easiest way to understand your scores is to think of them as reflecting the level of emphasis you place on certain aspects of situations: process, people, possibilities and pace. The A column represents an emphasis on process, the B column on people, the C column on possibilities, and the D column on pace/point. In the following chapters, we will examine the impact of sensitivities —and lack thereof — relative to each of these focal areas. This chapter will focus on the Expert’s sensitivity to process.
The range of possible scores in each individual column is 12—48. Any assessment result with a score below 30 in a column indicates an above average sensitivity to the corresponding element of your environment being measured. Because that element is process for the A column, it measures the importance a person places on consistence and accuracy. This manifests itself with things like:
· An attention to detail
· A need for dependable structure and rules
· Consistency in execution of tasks
· Reliable performance and behavior
· Rigidness (“I’m not stubborn, I’m right”)
· Deep knowledge in the areas of specialty
· A desire for security
· Appropriateness of behavior/professionalism
· Thorough explanation of thoughts/instructions
· Suspicious of ideas that have not been tested
Meeting the Expert
If your lowest score (or tied for lowest) is in the A column, you are an Expert. Experts trust those things that they know to be true based on a personal and tangible experience with them. They like to know things, as this knowledge helps to ensure that life’s situations will unfold in reliable, consistent ways. Experts thrive in secure environments where there is ample structure, policy, and guidance. It is important to Experts that they not make mistakes, yet another reason they seek out knowledge and rules. For all these reasons, the process becomes the focal point for the Experts as they seek to eliminate the possibility of mistake and chaos. They are generally risk averse. Experts’ most pressing intrinsic need is security. They thrive when they feel that their environment is well established and safe.
Your preferred style influences the way you execute your core ideology. If you think of life vision as a journey to a desired future state and core ideology as the vehicle within which you will travel, then your style is how you look as you travel along. And although your interactive style alone does not define you, it does inform you. It is what others notice first about you. It is critical to how you communicate and how you like to be rewarded. It is also the lens through which you view the world. Therefore, understanding how your style shapes both who you are and how others see you is essential to extracting Me. The Expert is shaped by risk aversion, the pursuit of perfection, and reliability.
The pursuit and possession of knowledge that is at the root of the Expert style can often result in some very deep analysis of information. Consequently, Experts often display few nonverbal cues. They possess the classic poker face. In fact, when I teach communication, client service, and consultative-selling-skills classes, I tell my attendees that the behavioral cue of the Expert is the lack of behavioral cues. The difference between sorrow and joy on the face of an Expert can be virtually indistinguishable.
The Behavioral Cues (or lack thereof) of Experts
I remember speaking to a group of chemical engineers in Lake Jackson, Texas about 15 years ago. There were 35 attendees, and the human resources department had hired me because the team was experiencing challenges communicating with one another. I arrived at the facility one hour before my scheduled 9:00 a.m. class. The congenial receptionist directed me to the training room. It was this room that provided me with the first incontrovertible evidence that this was a very Expert culture at the facility. The training room was decorated in early … penitentiary. Everything was white on white, interrupted only by the occasional piece of masking tape with a word neatly written by Sharpie: “LCD Projector,” “Laptop,” etc. I quickly set up my audio/visual equipment and prepared for my three-hour course on communication.
At 8:57 a.m., all 35 participants filed into the training room in silence, signed a company attendance sheet, took their seats, and opened their notebooks. Three minutes later, I began. Remember: my motto is “laugh and learn.” I have been a professional speaker for over 20 years and before devoting all my efforts to speaking, I worked in jobs that required me to speak publicly a good deal of the time. Essentially, I have been compensated wholly or in part for public speaking since I was 16 years old. It is a skill that I have honed, and using humor is a large part of that. I share this simply to reinforce that I know where the funny is. I also know that even the best humor can miss its mark occasionally.
So when I offered my first funny anecdote to the 35 chemical engineers and they didn’t laugh, it wasn’t the lack of a guffaw that knocked me off balance. It was the fact that they took notes. They wrote the funny. Who does that? Well, apparently Experts who score with dynamic patterns do. I would later discover that almost all of the attendees scored below 18 in the A column. Unfortunately, I wasn’t practicing metacognition. Rather than realizing the style of my audience and adjusting my expectations of their response, I doggedly pursued my own intrinsic needs.
You know the story of the mechanic whose own car doesn’t run? Or the doctor who is in poor health? How about the one where the educator on metacognition fails to practice metacognition? That was me. I got stuck inside my own head and my Me desires appreciation. I derive that appreciation on stage by the audience’s reaction. So, the lack of laughter was a negative motivator that inspired me to throw more effort into my delivery. Making matters worse for me was my other intrinsic need — winning. I wanted to be liked and win, and I decided upping the energy would achieve my needs. After an hour, I was essentially Richard Simmons on methamphetamines — racing around the room, spinning, sweating, and trying to will the room to a reaction. At about the two-hour mark, I had an out-of-body experience. I was mentally hovering over myself in that classroom watching me flail about in a futile effort to generate some response from my deeply analytical attendees. Finally, after three hours, I retired to the door of the training room and prepared for the mercy killing at the end of the class.
To my surprise, all 35 attendees lined up in front of me like I was the bride at a wedding reception. One by one they came up to me, shook my hand and said, “that was the best training class we have ever had here.” They then proceeded to walk out of the room in complete silence with no expression on their face. I still get emails from the human resources people at that company that say, “Those guys still talk about you.” I respond, “And I still talk about them.”
An Expert Is a Wine’s Acidity
The wine world comparison of the Expert style could be the complicated concepts of wine and food pairings. Even the most adept sommelier can get uneasy when asked to pair elaborate meals with the “perfect” wine. Imagine how challenging that is? When you consider all the ingredients, flavors, and consistency of food and the complexities and sheer number of wines in the world and to come up with an exceptional match off the top of your head! I get a panic attack just thinking about it. Acidity, one of the four traits of wine, is my go-to consideration when selecting a wine to pair with food. Acidity makes the mouth salivate, so it is an insurance policy for overcooked poultry. Acidity cuts through fatty and fried food. For my money, with a few exceptions, you rarely go wrong pairing food with Champagne or Pinot Noir. In that way, the Expert style is to the mind as acidity is to the wine. They both provide safety and reliability even in the most complicated of circumstances.
As an educator, I strive to provide learning experiences that are fun and informative. I refer to my style as enter-“train”-ment. I also love to integrate my love for wine with my passion for understanding our own minds. One of my most popular programs is What Is Your Wine Personality? When I select a wine that reflects the Expert style, the two characteristics that are most important are acidity and nuance. To me, that captures the way an expert mind works: acidity because it allows the wine to be versatile as a food pairing (a safe choice), and nuance because it reflects the technical prowess of the winemaker.
Imagine you had an inherent need to reduce risk. How could you best satisfy this need? Well, learning everything you could possibly know about a subject would be a solid strategy. Experts use knowledge to mitigate risk.
But what about those of us who score above 30 in the A column? For example, my score on this assessment is 37. It is my tertiary (third) preference among the four styles. I was quite surprised by this, given my professional choices (to start my own business), frequent moves all around the country (I have lived more than a decade in each of Illinois, Florida, and Colorado, and am now living in Washington), and general optimism when it comes to assuming risk.
Don’t get me wrong; a 37 score would indicate that the Expert style and the need for processes are not very high for me. It is just a higher preference than I expected. But, my lovely bride would be quick to point out the many routines I employ when traveling and even at home that indicate that I do have some need for consistency and structure. I enjoy traveling but after too long on the road I long for a week or two of the same bed, same time zone, and the comfort of a stable schedule.
More importantly to you, a score higher than 30 in the A column will likely mean that your core ideology will not revolve around processes. Whatever approach you utilize toward fulfilling your calling will not include a detailed and structured approach. That’s not to say that you can’t develop a strength for organization and compliance; it’s just that it would be unusual for you to find your true joy in these elements of your world. You may find that time spent with processes causes you stress or, at the very least, drains you of energy. This does not mean you should avoid processes altogether. Life requires all of us to work outside our essence from time to time. Knowing why certain tasks, situations, and even people can require more effort — to be accompanied by greater psychic cost — is very useful to understanding ourselves.
As you examine your assessment utilizing the context of all four column scores, you will have greater nuance and perspective. For now, consider what your score in column A may tell you about yourself. If your score is below 30, how does your preference for the Expert style inform the way you behave, think, and interact with others? Remember, as the score gets lower, the preference and influence increases. If you have a score below 20, the Expert style has a large impact on you. Conversely, if you score is above 30, how does that help to define you? And if that score is above 40, the Expert influence becomes notable in its lack of impact. Use the extracting Me Worksheet to write your thoughts on how the Expert style contributes to Me.
Our goal is to integrate our knowledge of our relative style preferences into our core ideology to obtain a deeper and broader definition of Me. So far, we have only examined one of the four styles. Let’s turn our attention to the B column and see the influence of people on our essence.