Discover more from The Weekly Walkaway
Can the book ‘Surrounded by idiots’ help make us more effective Negotiators?
The Weekly Walkaway highlights negotiation in its ‘good’, ‘bad’ and sometimes ‘downright ugly’ forms. Newsletter Issue No. 41 (21st July 2023)
What to expect?
Thought of the Week - Can the book ‘Surrounded by Idiots’ help make us more effective Negotiators?
This week’s Quotes of the Week are all from the book Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson.
“The most important lesson that you can walk away with is that the idiots who surround you are, in fact, not idiots at all. Instead, they are individuals worthy of respect, understanding, and being valued.”
“Flexibility and the ability to interpret other people's needs is what characterizes a good communicator.”
“Communication usually takes place on the recipient’s terms.”
“The stronger your self-understanding is, the greater your probability of adapting to the people around you.”
Remember: You are a negotiator!
You are always managing some form of conflict, a difference of opinion or interest.
Thanks for reading The Weekly Walkaway! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.
Click ❤️ please help to share the community. Thank you. Go on smash that ❤️
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Can the book ‘Surrounded by Idiots’ help make us more effective Negotiators?
I’ve been thinking a lot about colours recently. I’m a governor at our local primary school. They are implementing a school-wide system called ‘zones of regulation’, which is all about using colours to help primary school-age kids learn how to identify and self-regulate emotions.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder how this may help us grown-ups as well.
A case in point is my son’s best friend had their last day at school this week. They’ve been joined at the hip since they were in reception class, and both are understandably sad.
I asked my son how he felt on the first day without his friend. He said I’m a bit ‘Blue-Green’ dad. Roughly translated as (Blue - sad, Green - focused/calm)
Other than being a proud dad moment, it was also an excellent opener for us both to discuss some tactics for moving on from this change in his life and then to check in on his feelings after school.
I could write about this topic all day, but not surprisingly (for those who know me well!), this wasn't the point of this article!
What was it? Oh yes, that was it, I’ve been thinking about ‘colours’...! (Me being distracted is a thing; you may find a little bit of this below)
If you haven't, it’s worth a few moments of your time. But if not, here's a quick whistle-stop tour of the book.
Thomas Erikson presents a fascinating exploration of human behaviour and communication styles through the lens of four distinct colours: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue.
The book's central thesis revolves around understanding these different communication styles to foster better relationships, enhance communication, and navigate various social and professional situations more effectively.
The Reds - Decisive and Results-Oriented:
Strengths: Reds charge through life like a bull on a mission. They are direct, no-nonsense decision-makers, assertive, and focused on achieving results, valuing efficiency and action.
Weaknesses: Subtlety isn't a language Reds speak fluently. They may come off as controlling and a bit of a storm in a teacup, often leaving everyone a bit bewildered and ducking for cover, sometimes coming across as a wee bit blunt and impatient.
The Yellows - Social and Enthusiastic:
Strengths: Yellow types have a charismatic personality and a bright outlook on life. Typically outgoing, enthusiastic, and skilled at building relationships.
I haveYellows have an attention span of a hyperactive squirrel. Be prepared for a conversation that can zigzag like a squirrel on caffeine, touching every topic under the sun. Easily distracted or prone to impulsive decisions.
The Greens - Analytical and Detail-Oriented:
Strengths: Greens are analytical, digging into details like a treasure-hunting mole, detail-oriented, and value precision. They excel at problem-solving and enjoy diving deep into data and facts.
Weaknesses: Beware, time moves slower in ‘Green’land. Greens can be perceived as overly critical or slow to make decisions, as they prioritise accuracy and caution. So patience is key when waiting for greens to make a decision. But…at least it'll be a well-thought-out one!
The Blues - Harmonious and Relationship-Focused:
Strengths: Blues are the emotional superheroes of empathy and compassion. They prioritise maintaining harmonious relationships. They are excellent listeners and peacemakers. In fact, they listen so intensely that they could make a career out of being professional listeners (hands-up, you tireless HRBP’s, therapists and coaches out there!).
Weaknesses: Blues tend to avoid conflict like a contagious disease, which can lead to difficulty expressing their needs or asserting themselves. They can dance around sensitive topics like a graceful ballerina, but when it comes to confrontation, it is their personal Voldemort.
The book emphasises that each person possesses a dominant communication style. But individuals may exhibit traits from multiple colours depending on the situation.
Recognising and understanding these diverse communication styles is crucial in both personal and professional settings, as it enables more effective communication and builds stronger connections with others.
In other words, each individual might have a dominant colour, but much like chameleons, we adapt our shades depending on the situation. And yes, there are similarities with the popular D.I.S.C framework, but noticeable differences as well.
Neither is an exact science, but what I did find helpful is that the ‘colours’ do help to provide a common language that is simple to understand and talk about to others (much like the Zones of Regulation for primary-age children!)
But beware of ‘stereotyping’ (more on that later.)
So, what's this got to do with negotiation?
If I were to exchange the word ‘Communication-style’ for ‘Negotiation-style’, you might see where my head is at.
At Kahvay, we are clear about the behaviours you need to adopt as an effective negotiator. Not because you need to change who you are as a person but because it's important to know when it's time to put on your ‘game face’.
Your Clark Kent to Superman, Diana Prince to Wonder Woman, or whatever other image you may have when you step into the negotiation room (for example, one of our past delegates always wears their lucky socks in a negotiation).
Whatever it is, you become the right type of negotiator at the right place at the right time.
We have previously dug into these behaviours in a past post (check them out here); when analysing where you are on the Kahvay Compass whilst planning for a negotiation.
That all being said, life is not black and white. The nuances are subtle at times, especially when dealing with people.
We are all surrounded by idiots; it just depends on what we do about it.
In my opinion, there are two areas of negotiation that standout with this framework for us to consider:
Consider how communication styles may differ when building your negotiation team.
Different colour combinations can create a harmonious and balanced team or lead to clashes and challenges.
A diverse team of all four colours can bring a well-rounded approach to problem-solving and decision-making. Reds provide leadership and drive, Yellows bring enthusiasm and team spirit, Greens offer analysis and precision, and Blues foster strong team dynamics and empathy.
In reality, most individuals have a combination of these communication styles. Encouraging open communication, understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses, and fostering an inclusive environment where team members can freely express their thoughts can help mitigate potential clashes. Flexibility and adaptability are essential for a team's success.
2. Your counterpart has a dominant style, too.
If you have a ‘dominant’ communication style, so then does your counterpart.
If you recognise this, then you have knowledge, and you know what they say about knowledge.
Knowledge = POWER.
You can use this to build rapport. Adapt how you communicate, listen, and interpret non-verbal communication and how you effectively land your message.
The point is, we don’t ‘negotiate’ with companies; we ‘negotiate’ with people in all our glorious technicolour.
A word of caution
The behaviours of a haggler, dealer, engineer or diplomat are still the same whether it be you or your counterpart. They have their game face on as much as you do.
Some other points that may require a bit of food for thought…
Cultural Sensitivity: Communication styles may vary significantly across different cultures. What is considered direct and acceptable in one culture may be perceived as rude in another.
Individual Differences: While the communication styles outlined in the book provide valuable insights into general behavioural patterns, not everyone will fit neatly into one category. People are complex and multifaceted, and their communication styles may vary based on context and personal preferences. Be flexible and observant to adjust your communication style based on individual cues.
Avoid Stereotyping: Refrain from using any communication style framework to stereotype or pigeonhole individuals. The purpose of understanding these styles is to enhance communication, not to make assumptions or judgments about someone's character based solely on their perceived style.
Mind the Context: The appropriateness of each communication style depends on the context and the nature of the negotiation.
The fluidity of Styles: People's communication styles can change over time or in response to specific situations. Someone who generally exhibits Green traits might adopt Red characteristics when facing a tight deadline or a critical decision. Stay attuned to these shifts and adjust your communication accordingly.
Combination of Styles: Individuals may exhibit a blend of communication styles, which makes them more complex to read and interact with. Be prepared to adapt to this combination and find common ground between styles.
So that’s it, folks.
What do you think? Can ‘Surrounded by idiots’ help us become more effective
Have a great weekend!
Right, where’s my squirrel?
We’d love to read your comments or thoughts.
Discuss or request more about this or other topics that interest you. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks for reading The Weekly Walkaway! Help Us Grow. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.