For the sake of simplicity, let’s say there are four ways or styles to generate results. They are The Collaborator, The Driver, The Big Idea Person, and The Rules Follower.
The Collaborator wants to hear from the people in the group to uncover ideas and see if ideas can be combined to make a better decision.
The Driver wants to get to a solution as fast as possible and move into action. If The Driver feels he or she has come up with the answer, then this person will state the solution and move into action right away.
The Rules Follower wants to follow the written procedures that are in place. If there are no written procedures in place, then the first step for this person is to establish rules and procedures and structure to follow.
The Big Idea Person wants to land on a big idea that will really make a huge impact on other people. This person wants the group to move beyond the mundane and ordinary and focus on a game-changing new idea that will really matter in a big way.
All four approaches can be very effective. At times the other three styles can be really pleased that one of the styles is in charge at that moment. This is true for all four of these approaches to getting results.
The problems happen when one person expects everyone to follow his or her approach. That’s where Parents and Children come into play. Without realizing it, any of us can become extremely frustrated when a person uses a style that is completely the opposite of his or her approach. Imagine a Parent and a Child getting into a fight. Without realizing it we can be in a meeting or a conversation and the drama unfolds just as it sometimes does between a Parent and a Child. We subconsciously become the Parent or the Child and the problems pop.
If the person in charge of a project is The Driver, then The Collaborator could become very frustrated that there was no input gathered from the members of the group and feel that the fast actions are going to lead into problems that could have been foreseen if everyone’s input had been considered, The Rules Follower could be upset if any procedures were skipped, and The Big Idea Person could be upset that the solution seems so mundane.
If the person in charge of a project is The Collaborator, then the other three types of people might get really frustrated that there is too much discussion and too little action and things seem to be moving too slowly.
If the person in charge of a project is The Rules Follower, then the other three types might feel the project is bogged down by existing procedures and structure.
If the person in charge of a project is The Big Idea Person, then the other three types might be frustrated by the lack of a plan and attention to details.
Being frustrated is okay. Being enraged or completely shutting down is not okay. We get frustrated when we subconsciously feel like a child being talked to or controlled by an adult or we feel like an adult talking to a child who won’t do things the way we want them to do it. Then we fight back for our style to be used more.
The Driver might say to The Collaborator, “Hurry up. Let’s get to a decision or I’m moving ahead without you.”
The Collaborator might say to The Driver, “Stop doing everything your way and listen to the rest of us.”
The Rules Follower might say to The Big Idea Person, “Come down from the sky and stick to a plan.”
The Big Idea Person might say to The Rules Follower, “Stop getting stuck in the procedures and details and let’s make a real impact in the world.”
In all four cases, the person has fallen into either the Child mode or the Parent mode and sees the other person as a Child or a Parent. Then the person attacks back or shuts down and the productive meeting is over.
The great challenge is to move out of Child mode or Parent mode and into Adult mode. As an Adult, respect the other person’s style and then address it in a calm, respectful manner.
Driver to Collaborator: “We will set aside 25 minutes for open discussion so everyone who wants to give input can, and then we will make a decision. We will collaborate, but within a time limit.”
Collaborator to Driver: “I will listen to your whole solution, and then I will organize my response and give it to you when you’re all done.”
Big Idea Person to Rules Follower: “After we discuss the big idea, we will work together to make sure we are following existing rules and procedures as we make it a reality.”
Rules Follower to Big Idea Person: “We will look at all the existing rules and procedures and see if any need to be reconsidered or voted on again in order to help make this big idea into a reality.”
In Adult mode, we look to support the other person’s style while still staying true to ourselves and we do it in a respectful manner. Staying in Adult mode can allow meetings to become much more effective and productive.
Adult meetings might just not be as dramatic, theatrical, or funny to look back on five years later as Parent-Child meetings.