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by Dorothy Leeds

Not long ago, my friend Carol told me about an experience she had buying stocks. "Dennis was the most charming person," she said. "We hit it off immediately. He spent a lot of time with me and he really made me laugh. So I recommended this broker to my friend Janine. She came back without having any thought of making investments, and said Dennis was the worst salesperson she'd ever met. Janine was in a hurry and knew exactly what she wanted, but Dennis kept telling obnoxious jokes and tried to sell her a stocks she didn't want. I couldn't believe we were talking about the same person!"

Janine and Carol had indeed met the same stockbroker. The problem was that he acted as if Janine and Carol were the same client. He was relying on a technique that works with some clients, but not with others -- and was apparently willing to let those "others" get away.

What appeals to one person may not appeal to another; what's an easy sale to one prospect may be impossible to the next. For example, if you have more than one child, you know that you cannot deal with all the children in the same way. The only way to gain insight into the differences in people is to use questions. But it's not enough just to ask a question. You must tailor the question to fit the individual.

The Five Personality Types

Through my years of coaching and consulting, I've been able to group people into five major personality categories. Knowing an individual's dominant personality type – whether it’s your husband, your children, your boss, your co-workers, or the babysitter ‑ will give you valuable clues about how to deal with him or her. These clues will show you what approach to use, and what kinds of questions that person will respond to most positively.

Commanders: fast moving, fast thinking, competitive, impatient. When my Commander friend calls to speak to my husband, and I answer the phone, he'll say "Dorothy - John - Arnold." No small talk for these people! Ask them direct questions: "What do you hope to provide for your family?" Errors you can make in dealing with a Commander are: being too directive yourself, telling him what to do; talking too much about details and not enough about results; and moving too slowly.

Convincers: outgoing, up-beat, promoters, socializers, persuaders. You will notice that many young children will fit into this category. They are optimistic; in a room full of manure, they say, "There must be a pony here somewhere!" Convincers like to feel special. They make their decisions based on emotions, and how they feel about things. Ask: "Wouldn't this make you feel good?" Convincers often feel they have to have to ask for others' approval before they make a decision ‑ so a good question is, "Is there anyone else who should be involved in this conversation?" Convincers are full of energy and enthusiasm ‑ you'll have to keep up your own level of enthusiasm!

Carers: nurturers, listeners, implementers. They talk and move slowly, they avoid change. They are team-oriented, which makes them good during the weekly family meeting. When they ask you how you are, they really listen to your answer. It's important to find out from Carers what has worked well for them in the past, and what risks they want to avoid. Focus on the personal or family benefits. Build long-term relationships with Carers. Ask them: "Wouldn't you like to provide for your team, your company or your family's well-being?" Typical errors with Carers are to load them with too much information; to be confrontative; or to ask them to make a sudden or dramatic change.

Calculators: cool, correct, conservative, conscientious. They follow the rules and regulations. For example, when my husband and I would load the dishwasher at night, we would go back a couple hours later and see our Calculator son reloading it to make sure every thing was “just perfect”. Don't get too personal or pushy with these folks. Calculators like to "think it over”. To gain their confidence, have all the facts at your fingertips. Estimates and guesses won't do; Calculators want evidence and documentation. They'll ask you specific, logical questions. Ask them: "What would be the most logical way for us to proceed?"

Creators: daydreamers, non-conformists, and almost impossible to approach when they are involved in the creative process. They are forgetful and not conscious of time. If your child is a Creator, he or she may like to program games on the computer. Creators respond to benefits that will free them from worry, and from the more mundane tasks of life. They want you to take care of all the details, so they won't have to do the follow-up. Smart Questions for creators: "If we can make you more secure financially, so that you have more time to create, will you consider our service?"

It's the wonderful but frustrating differences in people that make our lives both frustrating and challenging. Relationships with others are built on the foundations you create. The tools you use to construct those foundations are the questions you ask. The more you know and study people, the stronger your ability to deal effectively with everyone you meet.

  Dorothy Leeds
  800 West End Ave.
  New York, NY   10025
  212.932.8364 (FAX)

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