Last month, I was certified to
lead Relationship Awareness Theory workshops. Did you say "So what?" Well, here
is the "so what". Would you like to improve your relationships at the office and
home, reduce misunderstandings, and better understand your reactions to
relationships? I bet that you would like to receive at least some of these
In our work as project managers,
our day is filled with communication and relationships. Talking to other people,
trying to influence behavior so that we get things done and lead our projects to
success. However, how many times have you sat down and wondered how you can do
better? Why do some people need mountains of data before taking a decision,
while others respond best to lengthy discussions of the touchy-feely aspects
such as the impact on team morale?
I have pondered these questions
for years. Then I came across Relationship Awareness Theory. Trying to apply
personality theories and personality typing assessments in the real world always
left me frustrated and no closer to positive relationships. The complicated
assessments that label people with acronyms don't work for me. Am I a high INTR,
and you are a low ESTY, or the other way around? If I am introverted, and you
are an extrovert, how, exactly, does that influence my project plan? I can't
figure the theory out, let alone use it in my day to day communications and
The good news is that
Relationship Awareness Theory works. (I know this sounds like an infomercial.)
The details of the theory are too much to describe in this newsletter.
My usual disclaimers apply.
Slapping labels around and trying to force-rank people into boxes is not the way
I work. Relationship Awareness Theory helps you by learning techniques to get
along better with people. Period.
Here are some tips to help you
get the benefits from the theory, in your projects, immediately. To identify
probable characteristics that people respond to best, list to these keywords
when people speak or write.
1. Does Jane use words like
"Challenge, compete, giving 110%, aggressive timelines"? If so, then Jane is
probably "Red" and will
probably respond to action directed, brief conversations. Don't approach Jane
with your 267 page project plan - give her the executive summary.
2. Do these words describe Bob?
"Plan, think, schedule, details and data?" Bob is likely "Green" and needs information
before he takes a decision. Don't rush Bob when you need an answer - give him
the details he needs, and let him take time to process the information. (Yours
truly falls into this category, if you wanted to know.)
3. What about Nancy? Do you hear
her express emotion around the impacts on people when a decision is made? "What
will it do to members of the team?" "Those poor people." Nancy is likely to be
"Blue" and preoccupied with
the welfare of people. Make sure you take the time to talk with Nancy on your
projects and listen to what she is saying. Touchy-feely is everything. Talk
about your "feelings" and use the word "feel" as appropriate.
4. What about people who remind
you of a chameleon? Monday, Dave wants details. Tuesday he wants the executive
summary and is in a hurry. Wednesday he asks about your family and on
Thursday he complains about the lack of details in your status report. Is Dave
crazy? Perhaps not. Perhaps his behaviors is a that of "hub" which is the
category for people who adapt behavior based on what they perceive the situation
demands. How do you interact best with a hub? Recognize that Dave's
preoccupation is "regard for the team" and your communications should identify
the impact on the "team" aspect. Will your proposal break up, or improve the
team spirit? Will it make a stronger team? This is driving Dave's seemingly
Relationships are complex. We are
all complex creatures. No theory comes close to completely describing or
defining us or our relationships. However, I find Relationship Awareness Theory
to be pragmatic. I apply it in my daily work as a leader of projects and when
helping other people to lead projects. You will also benefit from stronger
relationships, when you take note of the motives and behaviors of people on your
project teams. In other words, take the time to speak the other person's
language and you are more likely to get communication as a result than if you
each limit yourself to your native language.