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    July 27, 2023

    Having Tough Conversations: A Story of Using Predictive Index Relationship Guides for Effective Communication

    Have you ever needed to have a tough conversation at work where you felt nervous because you were unsure how to even approach that conversation, much less how the other person would take it?

    Tough conversations are a part of life, especially in the workplace, and I’m generally a conflict-avoiding person.

    However as I leveled up in my career, I quickly realized that managing conflict is part of being a leader. Being able to manage disagreements among team members, setting bandwidth boundaries with peers, and fielding unclear expectations from the leadership team were all skills that I’ve had to acquire and practice over the years.

    Let me tell you a story. 

    There once were two brilliant project managers named Alex and Riley. They were both highly skilled, but they had very different approaches to problem-solving. Alex was meticulous, preferring to analyze every detail before executing. Riley, on the other hand, was a risk-taker, often diving straight into the project without extensive planning.

    At first, their different work styles complemented each other. Alex's careful planning helped to catch potential issues early on, and Riley's daring spirit resulted in innovative solutions as blockers came up. However, as the company's projects became more complex and time-sensitive, their contrasting methods started to clash.

    One day, they were assigned to collaborate on a critical project, with a tight deadline. Alex wanted to create a detailed project plan, but Riley believed they should dive right in and adjust as they went along. Their disagreements escalated into heated arguments during team meetings, causing tension among their colleagues.

    The team's manager, Taylor, recognized the conflict and decided it was time to intervene. She called Alex and Riley into her office for a private discussion. She began by acknowledging their expertise and the value they brought to the team. Then, she empathetically addressed their differences and how their clashing work styles were hindering progress and teamwork.

    She showed them their Predictive Index reference profiles and how their behavioral drives showed up as differentiating factors. 

    Alex was an Analyzer profile whose strengths lied in being fact-driven and analytical while being disciplined and strong on execution. 


    Riley was a Captain profile who is a self-starter and innovative problem-solver that likes to push to decide things quickly. 

    To encourage better communication, Taylor then pulled out the relationship guide from PI Inspire and showed them how this conflict arose due to a difference in their natural behaviors. 

    For example, Alex and Riley may have difficulty moving a conversation forward constructively when they do not agree with each other or when they are both indecisive. Additionally, Alex may feel like Riley communicates without getting to the point, whereas Riley may feel like Alex is too focused on the details.

    Taylor suggested that rather than seeing their differing approaches as obstacles, they could leverage them as strengths. Taylor proposed a compromise where they would begin with an initial outline, incorporating Alex's planning, and then allow room for exploration and improvisation, respecting Riley's risk-taking mindset. Taylor also pointed out that the relationship guide provided actions for them to take to help communicate better such as Riley should set up time to speak with Alex instead of just asking Alex questions spur of the moment, but Alex should also make the effort to ask Riley for feedback or opinions as well as make sure that Riley is clear on specific action items and next steps when they end conversations. 

    Over time, Alex and Riley started to find common ground. They realized that their opposing viewpoints could lead to more robust solutions if they embraced a hybrid approach. They began to see each other's perspectives as assets rather than threats and as they continued to work together, their differences no longer sparked conflict but ignited creativity. They learned to challenge each other constructively and found innovative solutions by combining their strengths, and the project began to make impressive progress.

    I’ve been both Riley and Taylor, unfortunately without the insight of PI reference profiles or relationship guides. As Riley, there were times where it would take lots of trial-and-error to figure out how to resolve conflicts with colleagues and be able to figure out how to work effectively better together in the future. 

    As Taylor the manager, sometimes it would be difficult trying to get two conflicting teammates to listen to and understand each other, especially for each person to understand that everyone had a different work style and then come up with a variety of methods and ways to compromise and work together that satisfied both parties. 

    Think of how much time I would have been able to save if only I had this cheat sheet with people's strengths and caution areas, as well as a guide to mediate conversations to build more effective working relationships!

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