Knowing me, knowing you

by Maggie Tang

How to decode the secrets of other people's personalities and mind processes

Success or failure in what we do is very much determined by our soft skills — understanding others and ourselves, and using our influence. Whether being applied in the workplace or in a private situation, the use of certain essential soft skills can definitely help achieve objectives.

At the fourth series of Career Times' Marvellous Ways to Sell Yourself seminar, two outstanding professionals shared their expertise in effective communication.

Fears and desires

Annie Leung, CEO
CEO mindPower Limited
Annie Leung, CEO of CEO mindPower Limited, introduced the concept of the Enneagram which can help one understand both the fears and desires of competitors and counterparts. With such information, a person can make more informed judgments when interacting with others.

Ms Leung explained, "The Enneagram decodes how people are driven by their own fears and desires. By understanding these, we can communicate with others more tactically and achieve our objectives."

The symbol of the Enneagram is a circle connecting nine points. Each of these points represents one personality type. "Our intention is to learn to read our and others' personalities so that we can fully enjoy relationships, both business and personal," she said.

The nine Enneagram personalities

1 Reformer
Fear: Being bad, corrupt
Desire: Integrity
Attitude: Principle-driven

2 Helper
Fear: Being unworthy of love
Desire: To be loved and needed
Attitude: Loveable and helpful

3 Achiever
Fear: Being worthless
Desire: To be valuable
Attitude: Goal and result-driven

4 Individualist
Fear: Lack of personality, identity
Desire: To find personal significance
Attitude: Relying on one's feelings

5 Investigator
Fear: Being useless, incapable
Desire: To be competent
Attitude: In search of knowledge

6 Loyalist
Fear: Being without support or guidance
Desire: To be secure
Attitude: Being careful and cautious

7 Enthusiast
Fear: Being trapped in pain
Desire: To be happy
Attitude: Adventurous, like to have options

8 Challenger
Fear: Being controlled
Fear: Losing connection
Attitude: Manipulative

9 Peacemaker
Fear: Losing connection
Desire: To be at peace
Attitude: Harmony is top priority

According to Ms Leung, the nine personality types will respond differently to the same scenario since each of them adheres to a particular behavioural pattern.

"This information is useful in the sense that if we know in advance the feedbacks of our competitors or counterparts, we can devise a list of 'dos' and 'don'ts' when communicating with them, helping to put messages across and achieving goals," Ms Leung added.

For example, under pressure, an individualist will disappear from the crowd as they are very temperamental; while on the other hand, a loyalist will start analysing the situation because they pursue knowledge all the time.

Hence, with the Enneagram, self-awareness and self-empowerment can be attained. "We can assess our own selves and others more accurately to gain trust and buy-in," Ms Leung remarks.

Value of commonsense

Li Chan-wing,
Communication specialist and seasoned news anchor
Meanwhile, Li Chan-wing, a communication specialist and seasoned news anchor, emphasised that we must be flexible in choosing communication strategies.

"Common sense is the essence of effective communication. We have to adopt a flexible approach because everything is caught in a process of change. You cannot estimate another person's motivation with absolute accuracy."

Mr Li believes the key to communication success is to see what others cannot see. "To achieve, you have to be able to evaluate issues from a macro perspective," he said. "You need to think 'outside the box' to be creative. Also note the verbal and non-verbal communication cues."

An impression is very often formed based on "subjective" feeling, he stressed. "Once you understand this, you can start thinking about the image you want to project on others' minds. What most people are after is an 'image', though it does not necessarily represent reality." In other words, we must always stay alert to the image we are projecting, which should be consistent with our objectives.

Another of Mr Li's rule of influential communication is to "be prepared". To further exemplify, he applied an innovative theory "+ - x ÷ ?", which summarises what we should adopt and avoid in the course of interaction:

Humans are born with the physical ability to talk, but, as Mr Li stressed, communication is a skill that must be learnt and mastered if one is to succeed.

Taken from Career Times 20 April 2007
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