A friend of mine recently led me into his garage to show me how he planned to rewire it. He said he wants to a run cord around the floor for the job. He spoke to me for several minutes and that’s all I grasped. Wiring. Cord. Floor. My eyes glazed over and my brain went to sleep after the word “wire.” Why? Because God did not wire my brain for wires. Not only that, but I haven’t taken a math course since I was 15; I break out in hives whenever I have to put a puzzle together, and science experiments put me into a coma. Got the picture? I am a total “blonde” when it comes to anything technical, scientific or mathematic. There’s no doubt, God didn’t create me to be Analytical.
Now, imagine if a man named Kevin asks to meet with me because God has shown him that it’s his purpose to build houses for impoverished peoples in Third World countries. He can’t wait to share his vision with me and hopes to enlist me to help.
As we converse, he shares how each home will be constructed, new technology that will be implemented and how he plans to use recycled materials and that millions of dollars will also be saved through employing locals. Kevin, obviously Analytical, is thrilled, but when he finally stops to take a breath, he notices that I’m about as excited as a bar of soap.
He frowns because he knows his communication has been unsuccessful.
Thankfully, he remembers something he learned about communicating with different personality types; so he decides to take another approach. This time, he asks me a few questions before diving into his presentation. “Shana, what do you like to do in your spare time?”
“I like to paint, draw, write and journal.”
“Great. That’s interesting.”
“If you had a choice between conceptualizing a project versus implementing the details, which would it be?”
“Oh, definitely conceptualizing.”
“You sound like a big idea person.”
“If you could say one thing about time, what would that one thing be?”
“It’s precious and you better make the most of it.”
“Would you say that you like deadlines, or do you prefer to work without them?”
“Are you kidding? I need deadlines or I wouldn’t get anything done. Ideally, I’d prefer to work without them, but it’s not realistic. Deadlines keep me efficient. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, I’m just trying to figure out which Personality Quadrant you fit in so I can communicate my ideas to you more effectively.”
“OK, so which Quadrant do I fit in?”
“You’re definitely an Expressive-Driver combination but I was communicating to you as if God made you an Analytical. Do you mind if we start over?”
This time, Kevin begins by telling me about the scope of the project, he explains that thousands of lives will be changed, that families will bond to a community and that he also needs a visionary to strategically plan the “big idea.”
When he was finished, I had been transformed from a bar of soap to a chili pepper—on fire and hot for his ideas—all because he spoke to me about his purpose and vision based on my personality and how God made me.
Has God shown you your God-given purpose? Do you want to communicate your vision to others effectively for emotional, financial, spiritual or physical support? No doubt, understanding how God created different people’s personalities is critical to communicate your ideas effectively.
It takes more than knowledge about what you do to move others to action—it takes understanding personality types.
The four personality quadrants
There are many personality tests, many of which I’ve taken and many which are valuable. I’ve taken one that defined my personality based on colors, another labeled me as an otter/golden retriever mix, a third told me that I was extroverted, somewhat disorganized, a dreamer and emotional.
All of these tests gave me insight into myself and helped me understand more about how God made me. But only one has helped me understand how to communicate my passions and purpose to others.
The four quadrants are part of a system that was popular in the 1970s and 1980s called the Social Styles Profiling Method. Many people prefer to use it rather than other personality tests because of its simplicity and the ability to apply it in conversation during even first visits.
Do you wonder where you fit? Here are some simple descriptions of the four types.
Drivers: Know what they want, where they are going and how to get there quickly.
Drivers tend to be focused on results. They want to do things efficiently and effectively and they are typically more organized than their Expressive friends.
Expressive: Appear communicative, warm, approachable and competitive. They involve other people with their feelings and thoughts.
Expressives are motivated by applause because they feel good when others show appreciation for what they have done. They are often motivated by a large vision and they like to get involved in the “big picture.” They typically don’t like details.
Amiable: Place a high priority on friendships, close relationships and cooperative behavior. They appear to get involved in feelings and relations between people.
Amiables are motivated by consensus, peace and a lack of conflict.
Analytical: Live life according to facts, principles, logic and consistency. These folks are often viewed as distant and detached but they seem to be cooperative in their actions as long as they can have some independence in organizing their own efforts and ideas.
Analytics focus on process and they are all about doing something right. Many Analytics love science, math, can create chemical concoctions and build things. These are the engineers and systems analysts of our world.
What does all this mean?
As I stated earlier, if you are speaking to an Analytical, but are talking to them like they are an Expressive, you will have problems because Analyticals need numbers, facts and scientific information. They need evidence to back up what you are saying. If you are speaking with Expressive, you wouldn’t want to talk to them like they are a Driver—all methods, measurements, and how-tos. Instead, they want the big picture.
Keep in mind as you are speaking to people about your passions and God-given purpose not to pigeonhole people. No one is all Analytical or a total Expressive. God has typically created everyone as some kind of combination.
Also, keep in mind that the best way to discover how to communicate with someone is to do as Kevin did in our story. He asked questions that would help him determine which quadrant I might be in. Then, he shared information with me that would be of interest to me about his vision.
If you implement the Four-Quadrant Model in your communication, you’ll find that your conversations are much more exciting. And, you’ll experience what Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author, and wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh, said, “Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”
Shana Schutte is a freelance writer, author, and speaker living in Colorado Springs, Colo. (www.runtogodministries.org)