The I and the C – A Success Story

One of the highest volume mortgage companies in a state I’ll leave unmentioned is owned by a mother/daughter team.  Kathleen, the Mom, is a very high C.   Angela, her daughter, is a very high I.  They have built their business by utilizing the strengths of their Personality Styles and by accepting and understanding each other’s differences.

Kathleen was widowed at the age of 25 when Angela was 7.  Her husband was a contractor.  They owned a nice home and had done fairly well for their age.  Like most young couples they hadn’t gotten around to any serious financial planning so Kathleen had enough money from a small life insurance policy to get through the next 6 months.  She went to her local family-owned bank to get some advice from the owner.  He offered her a job as a loan processor and she jumped at it.

Over the next year Kathleen mastered the position.  The job was perfect for her Type C Strengths.  Loan processing suited her analytical nature, systematic approach to issues, objective ability to assess facts, love of time schedules, and her ability to be happy working alone.

When she was promoted to loan officer, Kathleen’s reserved nature had her a bit tentative about dealing with the bank’s customers.  Her stomach was in knots the first few weeks but she gradually found her confidence as her C Personality skill of being an evaluative listener found its footing.  She got all the facts she needed at the first interview, never overpromised what she could accomplish and quickly earned a reputation for being honest and fair.  As her reputation grew, her income increased and she and Angela were able to afford a comfortable lifestyle.

Many people said Kathleen spoiled Angela.  She would retort that Angela “Was the spitting image of her Daddy and I find it impossible to tell that girl no!”  In spite of it, Angela was a great kid.  Like her Dad, she had a high I Personality….she was carefree, adventurous and optimistic and very popular and involved both in high school and at college.

Angela majored in marketing in college.  When she was home for the summer after her junior year she questioned her Mom about never participating in the mortgage industry events….fashion shows, Chamber meetings, casino nights, etc.  Kathleen’s response was, “I’ve never enjoyed big groups of people and parties” (which is often typical of the C Personality).  “I’ve been able to grow my business with referrals from satisfied customers instead and that’s brought in all the business we’ve needed.”

At Angela’s pleading that it would be fun, Kathleen reluctantly agreed to schedule them into a few upcoming events.  Angela was a huge hit at every event.  Her I Personality Strengths of enthusiasm, acceptance of others, and her positive sense of humor were natural magnets.  When she was asked to help on a few committees, Kathleen told her to go for it.  Within a few weeks Kathleen had several mortgage orders from sources who had never before used her services for their clients.  By the end of the summer, Kathleen’s business was moving to a higher level thanks to Angela’s participation.

When Angela came home for Thanksgiving break, she and Kathleen started tossing around the idea of Kathleen leaving the bank so the two of them could open a mortgage business.  They made a list of everything involved in operating the business and to their surprise and delight the list was easily cut down the middle.  Kathleen preferred to tackle the processing, accounting, licensing, audits and other detailed tasks.  Angela wanted to handle everything involving client contact, prospecting and networking.  By spring break they had a solid plan.  They celebrated Angela’s graduation by hanging the sign at their new business.

Kathleen’s C Strengths have kept their business “lean and mean” for several decades.  Where many mortgage businesses add on processors as their volume increases – requiring a larger space and more expense – Kathleen decided to tap into the talent of the loan processors who had left the bank to raise their families.  Many of them were thrilled to handle contract processing from home on a part-time basis.  She instituted many creative ideas to keep the business lean and profitable.  She and Angela have chosen to keep their small space even though they could afford a huge, luxurious office.

Over the years Kathleen and Angela have stayed with their division of duties.  They have learned each other’s jobs for emergencies sake, but normally they stay in their individual Personality Strengths to utilize their talents.  They both love what they do and their huge customer base is dedicated and loyal.  Their fees are fair, their reputation is to be envied and over the course of the last 20 years they have both become very wealthy women.

The I and C Personality combination is fantastic when both parties can appreciate each other’s differences.  Working in each person’s strengths requires understanding and communication from both sides but it is so worth it!  If you are a business owner and struggling to handle things you don’t like, find your “Opposite”, structure the duties to suit each of your strengths, and work together to attain more success than you would ever accomplish on your own!

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Strengths of the I

 I’s are Influencing, Inspiring and Impressive

When the I Personality Style enters a room the atmosphere becomes lighter and more playful.  Their Style is fun-loving, gregarious and charismatic.  To them the world is a stage and life is an adventure worth exploring.  They will persuade you to join them!  My sister and my daughter are both I‘s.  Because of their influence I have been sky diving, skiing, SCUBA diving and parasailing.  My life is truly more exciting with them in it!

INFLUENCING…..

“The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.”     Douglas MacArthur

  • Motivates others through interaction and persuasion
  • Convincing – able to move people toward a common goal
  • Uses diplomacy in a tactful approach to people
  • Breaks tense situations with levity
  • Warm, personable, compassionate – will cheer you up if needed!

INSPIRING…..

“Attitude is everything.”   Dianne Von Furstenberg

  • Their optimistic outlook on life is an inspiration to others
  • Persuasively communicates the vision, mission or goals
  • Sees the big picture
  • Generates enthusiasm
  • Makes things happen by believing things will work out

IMPRESSIVE…..

“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from coming up to bat.”   Babe Ruth

  • Makes the best of unpleasant circumstances
  • Accepting of others, sees their character and their good qualities
  • People-oriented, team-oriented, involved with a positive attitude
  • Negotiates conflict skillfully
  • Intuitive at reading the emotions and feelings of others
  • Creative problem solver with innovative ideas – thinks outside the box

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Strengths of the C

C’s are Cautious, Conscientious and Competent

The contributions of the C. Personality Style to our society are immense.  They are the Type who look at things objectively and improve them.  While they can be creative their strength is analyzing an established product or concept and making it better.  The technology of our future is in their hands.

CAUTIOUS…..

“Measure twice, cut once!   English Proverb

  • Plans for many contingencies, leaves nothing to chance
  • Assesses facts with objectivity and lack of emotion
  • Approach will be systematic, careful, methodical and accurate
  • Emphasis on details

CONSCIENTIOUS…..

“There is a better way – find it!”    Thomas Edison

  • Has clarity of purpose and will stay focused on the task with self-discipline and intensity
  • Questioning mind is always searching for answers
  • Enjoys learning the details
  • Reliable, predictable, accurate
  • Thinks in terms of bottom line

COMPETENT…..

“Plan your work….then work your plan!”    Margaret Thatcher

  • Fantastic ability to use critical thinking and see what’s going on under the surface
  • Will do their homework in order to make a thorough evaluation of both the choices and the consequences before taking action
  • Completes tough assignments correctly the first time as the end result is a personal statement of their ability
  • Loves to be correct!
  • Clearly assess positive and negatives
  • Keeps everything under control

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The I and C in Weakness Mode

I had the opportunity to spend more than a year observing a case of the I Personality Style and the C Personality Style working in their “Weaknesses”.

A national corporation that manufactured products used in the construction of multi-million-dollar office buildings decided to enter the small office construction market.  In order to accomplish this they decided to create a new model housing their 2 divisions – sales and product distribution – under one roof in order to accommodate the faster paced environment of the smaller construction sites.

The corporate office hand-picked 7 teams from current employees and placed each of the teams in new sales/warehouse facilities across the country.  Each team was to develop a process for approaching the small construction market.  After 18 months the top producing office would become the template for future facilities across the country.

I was hired to be the assistant to Rob, who would manage the facility in my area.  He had been with the company 20 years.  During the previous 10 years the office under his management was consistently one of the top 5 offices in the country.  He was known for ingenuity.  Many of his sales techniques were used in training new sales reps.  Rob was fast-paced, people oriented, enthusiastic and high energy.   I spent several days training at his old office with his previous assistant.  His staff was devoted to him.  He had obviously pulled the best from everyone who worked with him which is a characteristic of the I Personality Style working in their strength.

Our Product Manager was Larry.  He was transferred to our facility to manage receiving, warehousing, delivery and installation.  He had been with the company for 30 years, starting as a laborer and ended up supervising the huge warehouse in our area.  Many of his systems and processes had been implemented in warehouses across the country.  He had a great reputation, was 2 years away from retirement and was excited about the challenge of making this new concept work.

Larry’s Personality Style was a C – reserved and task oriented.  He was methodical, detailed and analytical.  He was as quiet as Rob was charismatic.  Larry thrived on systems, planning, precision and contingencies while Rob ran on instinct and changing course rapidly when needed.  They were complete opposites in Personality Style and focus.  Rob focused on the positive while Larry obsessed about the negative.

Rob wanted to get business in the door fast.  He didn’t mind an initial small profit margin as he was certain we could win future more profitable contracts by demonstrating quality service.  Larry preferred a huge cushion in the bids to cover unexpected emergencies.  He felt Rob was unrealistic, unfocused, impatient and setting us up for failure.  Rob felt Larry was critical, pessimistic, worrisome and slowing everything down.

As they focused on what they called each other’s “shortcomings” they totally missed each other’s strengths!

Over time they both deteriorated to operating in their Personality Style’s Weakness Mode.  Larry was openly critical of Rob in front of customers; he used intellectual intimidation with him and focused on every error he could find rather than complementing what was going well.  He became protective of his domain, stayed in his office with the door shut and he pulled away from the team.  He became a rigid enforcer with anyone who came near the warehouse.  People obviously started to avoid him. Communication with Larry broke down rapidly.

Rob took Larry’s criticisms as a personal rejection. Criticism was not something Rob was used to experiencing.  He reacted to Larry with emotional outbursts and arguments.  Around the rest of us he became very self-promoting and needed our reassurance that he was doing a great job which, after a time, he wasn’t.  He spent a lot of time in the field, which would have been ok if he had a cell phone, but this was the pre-cell phone era.  His out-of-pocket time slowed our response time when a contractor needed a quick decision from management.  As a result we began to lose future contracts with companies who had been willing to give us a try.

After 12 months our office production was well behind the other 6 satellite offices.  Everyone on the team except Rob and Larry could clearly see why we were failing but no one (including me as this was long before I was introduced to the concept of DISC) had any clue as to how to turn the situation around.  After 14 months our office was closed.

While watching the dynamics between Rob and Larry was painful at the time it has certainly become a very valuable tale to share related to how our strengths can deteriorate to a weakness given the right circumstances.  Their story is a great example of how companies can spend a lot of money to hire people who are the cream of the crop, but who might fail miserably when the dynamics of the new job prompt them to work in their Personality Style Weaknesses.

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Weaknesses of the I

I’s can be Impulsive, Indecisive and Inconsistent

An I, who is naturally light-hearted, fun-loving and well liked, can become very fearful of not being liked when stressed or challenged. They can become weak-willed, easily pressured and can suffer in the areas of morals, truthfulness, ethics and integrity. The may become…..Impulsive, Indecisive and Inconsistent.

IMPULSIVE

  • May compromise themself in order to be liked
  • Resorts to self-promotion, loudness, huge gestures, emotion and exaggeration to regain attention
  • Prefers to argue rather than concede a point
  • Acts and speaks without thinking
  • Becomes impatient with normal tasks and with people they think are slowing them down

INDECISIVE

  • Unrealistic expectations due to inattention to detail
  • Runs on emotions, impressions and gut instincts
  • Lack of focus
  • Relies on charisma rather than preparation
  • Often has more confidence than ability

INCONSISTENT

  • Dislikes attempts at structure and doesn’t want limitations on freedom
  • May suddenly avoid a situation where they may be rejected
  • Natural restlessness results in disorganization, forgetfulness and poor time management
  • Ignores realities that are not pleasing
  • Controls by manipulating or talking smoothly
  • Difficulty focusing while attempting to work alone leading to poor follow through

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Weaknesses of the C

C’s Can Be Critical, Controlling and Cynical

The analytical, objective thinking C has trouble understanding that the rest of us don’t view things the way they do.  This often makes them their own worst enemy.  Their thoroughness can make them feel more competent than others, setting them up to view a simple question as a challenge by someone with inferior mental skills and abilities.  Depending upon the depth of the disparity a C can become vengeful, often waiting patiently for the right time to get even.  When operating in the extreme of their weaknesses a C can appear to be……Critical, Controlling and Cynical.

CRITICAL…..

  • If questioned, takes it personally.  May react negatively and defensively.
  • Focuses only on what is wrong, not on what is right.
  • Their cautious nature may present them as being aloof, unfriendly, uncaring.
  • Their focus on the facts and the task can make them insensitive to people.

CONTROLLING…..

  • Protective of their thoughts as they have trouble understanding that others don’t view things their way.
  • Strongly feel their opinion should be the norm resulting in a lack of flexibility.
  • The way to the “correct end” is more important than the people involved.
  • Fear of being wrong can immobilize them.
  • Will enforce rules and policies through intellectual intimidation.

CYNICAL…..

  • Keeps a ledger of wrongs committed against them and will patiently wait to get even.
  • Glass is always half empty.
  • Presents their knowledge in such a superior manner that even when they are right people don’t want to agree with them.
  • Rigid nature impairs creativity.
  • Myopic vision compounded by huge fear of failure.

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Meeting People Using DISC

A Director for an international Direct Marketing company asked me to train her local reps to utilize Personality Styles to grow their business.  Theresa said that all her reps are “Very energetic, have a high level of enthusiasm, are setting lots of first appointments but their closing ration is lower than it should be”.  She asked me to teach them how to make their initial appointments more successful.  I’ve had a lot of experience training sales reps and quite often I find the problem lies in the fact that they are focused on themselves rather than being focused on the concerns and the needs of their prospect.  My job is to change their focus.

As her team members arrived at the workshop I practiced what I was planning to preach…..I focused on recognizing their Personality Style and interacting with each of them in their Personality Style’s Language.  Shortly into the session they took the DISC Assessment and we grouped them according to their Personality Styles.   I asked each group to write on a piece of paper where they thought my assessment would place me.  When they simultaneously held up their papers they were shocked to see each group had placed me in THEIR group!  Their question became “How did I do that?”

I explained that as I met each one of them I had allowed them to lead me into THEIR Personality Style.  We dissected what I had done:

Starting with the Handshake……

  • S will often use a “double clasp” handshake.  I “double clasp” right back.
  • An I will usually “pump” up and down several times.  I go with their flow, let them pump my hand as much as they want while I return their huge smile with a big grin of my own.
  • The C Personality often prefers a lot of space.  I respect THEIR desire for space and move back.  They are often very serious so I only smile at them if they smile at me.
  • A D handshake is a firm grasp, very little movement, they look you right in the eye.  With a D, so do I.

Then the Speech Pattern……

I demonstrated my normal conversation pace and intonation to give them a base for comparison.

  • I then greeted someone from the S group and gently mirrored them as we spoke.  I made certain my responses to their comments were personal in nature while my intonation was soft and slow.  The S commented they were very comfortable with me.
  • My next conversation was with a C.   It was very similar except my responses were far less personal and much more task oriented.  I also gave the C far more space than I gave the S , who prefers to stand close.  The C commented they were comfortable with me and added normally they need more time with someone to develop a sense of rapport.
  • While the D and I had a conversation similar in topic to that of the S and the C, it was obvious the natural pace of the D is faster, louder, with a quick and succinct feel to it.  I was as loud as the D and  kept pace with the D by making my comments far more concise and impersonal.  The D was very comfortable with me.  I asked the C’s, the I’s and the S’s if they would have been comfortable with me had I greeted them in “D” manner.  They all gave an emphatic NO!!
  • When speaking with the I our conversation was rapid, we interrupted each other and went down bunny trails!  We spoke in terms of people, not tasks, and the audience laughed as they watched me add dramatic hand movements to my comments, which is very common for an I.  The I, in typical fashion, loved me because he loved our conversation.  I asked the D to be honest in his reaction to the I conversation.  He said it would have driven him batty and he may have ended it quickly!

The audience saw that I hadn’t changed ME at all during my conversations.  I had simply changed my conversation style in order to suit the Personality Style of the other person.  They also began to understand that when you are unaware of the other person’s Style characteristics you may turn them off with some of the characteristics of your own Personality Style.

We continued the workshop by discussing how to quickly recognize each Personality Style, how to tailor your presentation to each Style and what specific words should be used to close each Personality Style.  We then ended the session with role playing.  The room was initially full of laughter but then everyone settled in and took their “assigned Style” very seriously.  They learned how little effort is required to make a subtle change for success with their delivery.  They also learned that a conversation with someone you don’t know well goes a lot smoother when you are speaking the other person’s Behavioral “language”.

Several months later I followed up with Theresa to see how the team was doing.  She was ecstatic to let me know the closing ratios had improved tremendously.  She shared some of the team’s comments:

“Applying DISC makes me tune into the other person rather than being worried about how I come across.”

“By approaching a meeting from THEIR point of communication rather than from MINE, I feel the pressure is off of me to “perform”.  Because I can sense they are comfortable with me I can relax and have a valuable conversation about their wants and needs.”

There’s no magic to this.  Most successful sales reps will tell you their success comes from understanding God gave them 2 ears and 1 mouth.  Focusing on DISC simply makes you remember that.

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What is Your Blind Spot?

BLIND SPOTS:

  • Agrees Too Much.
  • Questions and Criticizes Too Much.
  • Over Directs.
  • Disorganized and Talks Too Much.

Which Blind Spot do you claim?  You say none of them?  Sorry….that’s why it’s called a Blind SpotYou don’t see it but I imagine if we question the people you see regularly they would have a different answer!

Blind Spots will sabotage your leadership skills.  They will hurt your team’s performance.  They will challenge your relationships.  They will undermine your respect.  The sad thing is we don’t even realize it’s happening.

The topic of Blind Spots usually leads to a huge discussion in team workshops where I emphasize understanding and accepting each other’s differences.  The goal is to make the team stronger by utilizing the strengths, talents and abilities that are the make up of each person’s unique DISC blend.  Each unique DISC Personality Style comes with a Blind Spot also.  As we discuss Blind Spots it’s common for people to be horrified and embarrassed when they see how their Blind Spot may have affected the performance of the team or even worse, affected a relationship with another team member.

Without fail, the general consensus among team members is they had no clue they even had a Blind Spot.  Through the discussion they learn to recognize when their Blind Spot may appear.  We then role play how to best diffuse the situation so the team can move forward to success in a strong, united manner.

If you want to explore some real life situations regarding Blind Spots, click on the “read more” link which will take you to the example appropriate for each Personality Style.

Now…do you have the courage to own up to YOUR Blind Spot and do something about it?

D – Over Directs          read more…..

I –  Disorganized and Talks Too Much          read more…..

S – Agrees Too Much          read more…..

C – Questions and Criticizes Too Much          read more…..

 

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The C Blind Spot

– Questions and Criticizes Too Much –

Consultations with companies often include some one on one time with managers who are challenged with their team’s dynamics.  One such meeting was with a talented woman whose challenge was turnover in her department.  When the President of the company was sharing his concerns about Ashley he said, “I’m either going to have to put in a revolving door to accommodate the turnover or let her go, which would kill me because she’s incredibly talented and creates exactly what I need.  In spite of the cost of the turnover I’d hate to see her working for someone else.”

Ashley’s department was responsible for creating all the copy for the company’s written material including marketing, web site, manuals, etc.  When I met with Ashley she explained the system she used with her department.  She would assign a staff member a project.  At that time she gave them a deadline for the submission of their first copy.  After she reviewed it she would then meet with them and assign necessary corrections and give them their next deadline.  The process repeated itself until the project was complete.  This was essentially the only interaction she had with her team.

Ashley had 3 of these meetings scheduled for the next morning.  I attended the meetings to observe the interaction between Ashley and her team.  It was immediately evident what was going on.  Ashley’s DISC Profile had shown that she was a high C.  She was focused, precise, and methodical – common strengths for the C Personality Style and great characteristics for a manager in her position.  Unfortunately, this was being combined with the C Blind Spot of Criticizes Too Much, making her review impersonal, cold and harsh.

In each meeting Ashley never once said anything positive about either the team member or the project.  She went straight for the challenges with each piece and assigned the corrections.  Her critiques dwelled on the negatives and her delivery did not show any enthusiasm for the material she was reviewing.  I watched 3 smiling, enthusiastic staff members walk into the room.  I witnessed 3 defeated human beings leave the room carrying a piece of work they felt was a failure.

When Ashley and I met to discuss my observations I asked her about the talent of her team members as I truly wasn’t certain she felt they were competent.  She expressed she was very pleased with their creativity and enjoyed the innovative ideas they brought to the table.

“Do THEY know that?”, I asked.

She looked at me and didn’t answer.  I could see her wheels turning in true C fashion as she mentally reviewed interactions with her team members.  “I don’t know” was the only answer she could express.

I explained to her it was likely they didn’t have a clue how talented she felt they were.  We reviewed her DISC Profile’s explanation of the C Blind Spot Questions and Criticizes Too Much.  We addressed “Criticizes Too Much” and agreed her critiques could use a more positive, people-oriented approach.  We made 3 adjustments to her review process:

  1. She would open her review by mentioning the portions of the piece that pleased her.
  2. After assigning the necessary corrections she would include a discussion allowing the team member to offer ideas and confirm they were clear with her requirements.
  3. Ashley would end the meeting expressing enthusiasm for the project.

I then mentioned the 2nd part of the C Blind Spot – “Questions Too Much” by saying I didn’t see a challenge there as I hadn’t noticed her asking many questions.  She laughed and said, “You should talk to the people who attend the management meetings with me before you make that assumption!”

We met again after one month.  She was very comfortable with the changes to her process and she was thrilled with the results.  Her team was completing their projects faster.  The amount of reviews per project had decreased.  She was comfortable with the discussion and found her staff used that time to offer some excellent ideas.  She said, “You know, I am certain their creativity is increasing along with their enthusiasm for their job.  There’s a different atmosphere in our department these days.”

Of course, I was thrilled and congratulated her.  I asked if she had experienced any other changes we hadn’t discussed.  She smiled as she said, “I’ve also applied some of these changes at home with my husband.  It’s working out very well.”

 

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The S Blind Spot

– Agrees Too Much –

I was part of a group that hosted a huge fashion show for their annual fundraiser.  One year I was asked if I would consider being the co-chairman with Courtney.  I didn’t know Courtney very well but I had enjoyed volunteering with her at previous events so I agreed.

Our organization had been approached by the owner of a very well known boutique in the area regarding the upcoming show.  We were thrilled as the boutique was very popular and the owner, Jamie, had never agreed to participate in any fashion show.   She felt our show would be a great place for her shop’s debut into this venue.  Her requirement was that she be granted exclusivity as the only boutique for the show.

With most boutiques this would have been a problem as they often have limited lines of attire.  Jamie had clothes for everything – beautiful formal wear, savvy business attire, and a fun vacation/cruise line plus accessories to match it all.  The ease of dealing with only one shop for the show was very appealing so the Board unanimously approved her offer and signed the contract.

Over the next few months everything proceeded smoothly.  We were way ahead of schedule and ticket sales were booming.  Then…3 weeks before the show, by Being Too Agreeable and not being able to give a firm “No” at the appropriate time, Courtney almost destroyed the show.

A friend of Courtney’s, who was a very persuasive jeweler,  approached her about displaying his jewelry at the show.  She said she “tried to tell him No but he wouldn’t listen”.  She eventually told him “She would see what she could do”.  He took that as a yes and immediately posted a notice on his website and in his shop announcing his participation in the show.  Of course, Jamie, the boutique shop owner, heard about the jeweler’s announcement and threatened to pull out of the show because we had broken our exclusivity agreement with her.

A quick visit to the jeweler by several committee members who had no problem explaining our contract and saying No resolved that side of the issue.  A tearful apology and explanation from Courtney pacified Jamie.

When Courtney said Maybe instead of No she hurt the organization’s reputation and she made herself appear weak and unprofessional.

Courtney and I met after the fashion show to celebrate our success and to wrap up our comments for next year’s chairman.  I brought up the subject Personality Style Blind Spots and asked if she wanted to chat about it.  She had no clue about the Agrees Too Much Blind Spot but admitted not being able to say No had often created similar challenges for her, especially  at work, which is common for the S Personality Style.  One of the men on her team wasn’t as experienced as she.  When he asked her for help she found she often ended up completing his work.  She said she did it to keep peace in the office but it often meant she stayed late without overtime and she ended up exhausted by the end of the week.

“What do I do?” she asked.  I suggested we practice saying No.  She laughed but she agreed.  As we role played a couple scenarios she realized that while saying No was a huge challenge for her, it was her need to avoid conflict that drove it.  An S doesn’t like confrontation.  They prefer to maintain peace and harmony.  As she realized she was trying to avoid possible confrontations, she saw how she was often saying Yes when it was inappropriate.  She left with a determination to change this.  And she did!  A few months later I needed some volunteers for an event.  Courtney smiled and very graciously told me No.

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