Developing an insight into the behaviour of others is a powerful advantage in entrepreneurial life. Some find building relationships easier than others. But regardless of your ability, understanding how the entrepreneur can read minds requires practice and some understanding of behavioural theory…
In life, we typically surround ourselves by people like ourselves. This necessarily limits our learning. Hitchhiking, much like business however, forces us to meet and get on with different people. And whilst I didn’t realise it at the time, experience on the road taught me invaluable lessons that helped make business life easier.
How the entrepreneur can read minds
Getting on with people in a car meant I travelled further. The questioning and listening strategy highlighted in the previous article, typically worked well. But it didn’t take long to tune into people who didn’t want to chat and/or reveal information. Such situations taught me how to deal with silence.
Then there were people who would happily talk but seemed to take no interest in me. The journey was memorable for their monologue. And occasionally, I would get in a vehicle to be confronted by someone who was strident and seemingly sought an argument.
But how do you draw meaning from these experiences?
In the nineties, the Huthwaite Group, conducted extensive research into buying behaviour to help sales people better read client situations. As a result of their research a behavioural model based on peoples’ levels of assertiveness and responsiveness (see diagram 1) was created.
The findings made for interesting reading that concurred with my experience of working with people in business and made sense of the behaviour of people I had met on the road.
The model divided people into 4 groups: Analysts; Drivers; Amiables; and Expressives. Each has their own behavioural characteristics based on levels of assertiveness and responsiveness.
Assertive people (Drivers) are confident and know what they want. They put forward opinions but don’t necessarily listen that well to others. Conflict is not a problem and they will happily argue their case. People who are highly assertive can come over as aggressive (think Apprentice). In contrast, people who lack assertiveness tend to focus more on the detail and the facts. These people (Analysts) are typically more passive but are wary of those who brush over the detail.
Responsiveness is the extent to which people respond to us and our questions. Some people are very responsive and give lots of information about themselves (Amiables and Expressives). Others are less willing or unable to respond in this way (Analysts and Drivers).
We are all different and few of us fit precisely into the model because our behaviour changes depending on circumstances. But the value of this research-based theory however, is that it helps us to understand ourselves as well as other people. Used intelligently and regularly, this modelling helps us to nurture business relationships and demonstrates how the entrepreneur can read minds.
Hitchhiking taught me the value of reflecting the behaviour of the person with whom I travelled. The Huthwaite research reached similar conclusions to that of mirroring behaviour but takes this notion further because the model produces results in a meaningful manner.
As an outgoing person I am happy to voice my opinions and I like to talk with people – which puts me squarely in the ‘Expressive’ box’. However, when I recognise I am working with ‘analysts’, ‘amiables’ or ‘drivers’ I know I must alter my behaviour to get the very best out of them and the meeting.
So what is your dominant behaviour and how might you use the theory to better get on with others? With practice you can use this insight to have a much stronger influence on the outcome of events.
Key Learning Points: Meeting different people expands our comfort zone and improves our ability to get on with people not like ourselves. Use experience and the theoretical model to learn how the entrepreneur can read minds, develop an insight into peoples’ behaviour and develop stronger business relationships.