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Business Tips: Depuzzle Human Behavior

by Karla Brandau, CSP

Organizational camaraderie and productivity involve relating to others across a chasm of significant behavioral differences. Improving your "people skills" helps you figure out how to bridge the gap between yourself and others thereby making the organizational climate more supportive and collaborative.

Now is a perfect time to assess the office atmosphere in your organization. (Why wait another second?) Is it often tense because individuals lack the people skills of communication, flexibility, and accommodation? Are individuals free to focus on the goals of the organization instead of climbing the walls thrown up by misunderstanding and opinions hardened in concrete?

Statistics say that you spend about 80% of your time communicating during any given day. If you are normal, you spend about 80% of that communicating time puzzled about the perceptions, views, and responses coming from co-workers, peers, and family members. You might even wonder what UFO dropped them off and forgot to pick them up.

These tips will help you depuzzle human behavior:

1. As-is. Accept the fact that there are four main styles of functioning and you represent only one of the styles. Therefore 75% of the world sees life differently than you do. To de-puzzle behavior, accept the other person "as is"–just the way they are. You will never change them to see your exact point of view.

2. Strengths. Focus on the strengths of the other person, not the liabilities. Contrary to the way some people believe and act, they do have weaknesses. No one is perfect in every way. So de-puzzle them by separating out strengths from weaknesses.

3. Activities. Take note of their activities. Where they invest their time tells you what they value. Do they volunteer for problem-solving or risky projects? Are they involved in associations or ad hoc committees for improvement? Do they take extra time for their children’s activities? Are they involved in a political party or a religious group? Make quiet observations. You will learn much.

4.Observe surroundings. Observe their desk and how they dress. Are their desks meticulous? Do they dress in a casual way or a flashy way? People who have super clean desks often like extreme detail in presentations and support materials presented to them. People who dress more casually usually have a more relaxed and "homey" way of relating. And people who are flashy dressers tend to like action and fun activities.

5. Their reasons, not yours. Understand people do things for their own reasons, not for yours. Find out what their reasons are and you can influence them in an individualized way.

6. Generational differences. Place them into their generational perspective. People who are Baby Boomers see work and relationships very differently than the Generation X’ers. Each generation has its special needs. Listen to them. Ask them questions. You will discover how to design your interactions to fit their age and perspective of life.

7. The stress factor. Realize that people who are under stress are always puzzling. They act in strange, irrational, and immature ways. Don’t try to understand them if they are angry. Let them vent and calm down. If they are frustrated and overwhelmed, help them work through their problems. As you talk with them, offer insights and alternative viewpoints. Usually people under stress have tunnel vision.

8. Learn how to disagree, but still be friends. Everyone wears a sign that says, "Don’t make me wrong, just kindly disagree." Giant steps are taken in mental and emotional growth when you understand that conflict is not necessarily good or bad, it just is and forever will be. In order to de-puzzle conflict, let it be a tool for generating ideas, then taking each other’s opposing ideas and creating a better solution.

9. Offer respect. The highest form of respect is to listen intently to other’s thoughts. Don’t dismiss an idea before the person who originated it is finished explaining how it will work. If you do, you may wonder why their behavior is cool and stand-offish. This puzzling behavior, however, is your fault.

10. Try a little charisma. Smile at them. Compliment them. Sincere and deserved flattery will still get you everything–including relationships that are more open and honest. Why? Because at our warp speed of life, not enough time is taken to be friends and to give sincere thanks for hard work and extra effort.

The Workplace Power Institute helps organizations be more competitive in the global marketplace by removing blocks to organizational productivity and improving collaboration.

For program information and an invitation to Karla Brandau, CEO, to speak at your next event or training workshop, call 770-923-0883 or send an email to


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