At this current point in my life, regarding my Behavior Style, I’m most comfortable orienting as a Stabilizer-Analyzer (although some days I’m more Analyzer than Stabilizer). This means I tend to take a systematic approach to life and usually remain determined to follow through with it. I pay close attention to details and want to ensure that things are done with the highest standard of excellence in mind. I prefer a few deep, intimate relationships over maintaining many shallow or less substantive ones. In social outings, I tend to engage with one or two individuals at a time, choosing to pull away from the bustle of the crowd. I want to give individual people my full attention and dig into meaty subject matters.

Because of their high level of emotional sensitivity, often times not expressed, Stabilizer-Analyzers tend to take things personally and internalize conflict. And, because others might “mess things up” or add unnecessary complications to an endeavor, we prefer to work alone or with a few individuals we deeply trust—at least, that holds true for most Stabilizer-Analyzers.

As an important note, the same traits that can contribute to the success of a project or relationship can also undermine it; Stabilizer-Analyzers can be quite demanding or require a lot from people before trusting them.

One might think that Stabilizer-Analyzers understand one another better than they do alternative Behavior Styles and that they rarely struggle to get along with one another. Having a Behavior Style in common can help but it hardly guarantees smooth interactions. No matter the Behavior Style combination, you’re going to face tension and must understand a few things to better manage conflict.

[Read “Navigating Conflict Is Your Responsibility, Not Theirs”]

Behavior Styles Stuck at a Four-way Stop

Imagine a scenario in which matching Behavior Styles arrive at a four-way stop at the exact same moment.

Two Stabilizers are likely to acquiesce to one another in a never-ending dance of one trying to out-accommodate the other. Or, as the Portlandia sketch “No, You Go” so perfectly captures it: the dynamic between these two slow-to-initiate, harmony-aficionados could turn into a kindness decathlon—both absolutely committed to kindness with little regard for urgency to get through the intersection.

Two Controllers are so eager to get through the stop sign (and onto the next thing) that they both roll through it, waiting for the other one to blink or slam on their breaks, if necessary, to prevent a collision. Surprised the other person was just as expedient as them, they will likely play chicken with each other, just barely avoiding an accident.

Two Analyzers, in no rush to move through the intersection, begin knowledge gathering, considering all the factors that go into why they might have the right of way. Each has an encyclopedic knowledge of local traffic laws, so they know the vehicle the furthest to the right has the right of way. Since they are facing each other, no vehicle is on the right. It’s likely they will sit there until one of them decides to be expedient or until one reverses away from the four-way stop, opting for one of many already familiar alternative routes to their destination.

Two Persuaders initially laugh about the humor of the situation, but each one believes they should go first. So, they start to proceed but clamp on the brakes when the other does the same thing. They will both inch forward to see if the other one is going to yield but stop yet again when they don’t. At this point, they become annoyed and swerve past each other making snarky comments.

[Read “How to Avoid Sending Emails That Upset Coworkers“]

When Common Behavior Styles Conflict

There are three different possibilities that might precipitate conflict among people with common Behavior Styles.

  1. There are unclear or unmet expectations. If we have the same Behavior Style preference, we likely have a tendency to accomplish tasks in the same way, thus making conflict more probable. For example, two highly-assertive people pursuing different goals will  inevitably clash at some point.In the case of two Stabilizer-Analyzers, if both are on a team that has been charged with creating a new style guide for their magazine, both may attempt to take the lead on quality control aspects. If roles are not clearly defined or expectations differ, these two might think they’re “always the quality control person” because that’s a role that suits their strengths. If their responsibilities are not clearly defined, we shouldn’t be surprised if both of them duplicate a lot of effort trying to out-perform the other or attempting to create a style guide superior to the other. This can create resentment. Further, their failure to collaborate with each other—and the rest of the group—will likely frustrate fellow team members.
  2. We have different value systems. I might perceive that another Stabilizer-Analyzer uses strengths we have in common to pursue objectives with which I don’t approve. Perhaps I may find their vision or goals are fool-hardy or that we have “other fish to fry.”My colleague might be investing significant time building a strong relationship with a certain client. While I might appreciate the exceptional way in which they’re being supportive and emotionally sensitive to this client, I might believe that they should be spending more time fostering a relationship with an influential local non-profit. Our resources are limited (including our emotional ones). I might become frustrated feeling that they’re not using their strengths in the best way possible. These differing values or objectives are going to undermine the fact that we both have a strong need for meaningful, one-on-one relationships. It’s our other values that conflict.
  3. Neither of us wants to modify or “flex” our behavior. This is often rooted in self-image or self-worth challenges that manifest in defensive self-talk, such as “I’m not the problem so I shouldn’t need to change my behavior.” This challenge can also cause someone to feel like their Behavior Style is who they are, so they believe modifying their behavior is disingenuous. Further, there is more potential for someone to think their Behavior Style is somehow wrong.We are not our Behavior Styles. We have within us the capacity to flex our Behavior Style, to adjust it in order to make situations go more smoothly. Whether it’s avoiding the tendency to over-extend our strengths in stressful situations or shifting the way we act to better meet the needs of other Behavior Styles, being emotionally intelligent means knowing which behavior is most appropriate at any given time. Modifying your behavior doesn’t mean you are being fake or in the wrong. In fact, it suggests that you have a high self-awareness and that you’re already ensuring that a significant level of trust and respect exists among your teammates.

[Read “Three Things You’re Doing in Relationships That Harm Your Success“]

Clarify, Clarify, Clarify

Our pride and ego can keep us in a grid lock with others. However, by making the emotionally-intelligent behavior change, we invite others to engage with us in a more fruitful interaction. We’re more likely to solve the problems we seek to overcome.

The key element to keep in mind during all three of these scenarios is that we must return to a clarification of expectations if there is to be any hope of resolving or managing the conflict. Coming to agreement regarding roles, responsibilities, and goals goes a long way in encouraging the success of relationships—and ultimately, teams.

2 Responses

  1. I love the example of similar styles at a 4-way stop! What a terrific illustration of how our assumptions and preferred behavior style can get in the way of us heading down the road!
    The link to Emotional Intelligence is clear, by staying focused on goals, values and clear expectations, we can achieve good results and build productive relationships.

    1. Personally, clarifying expectations has been big for increasing trust with colleagues.

      Most of the time that feeling that something is “off” with somebody has been because we’re two generally good people who have had different expectations or prioritized our values in slightly different ways. Giving voice to those differences has been key in ensuring that trust remains.