giftI’m currently reading a book called ‘People Styles at Work and Beyond’ by Robert Dorothy Bolton; a very eye-opening book on recognizing personality and behavioural styles of people in work situations and how to deal effectively and productively with each style. Each behavioural style comes with unique natural aptitudes, leading characteristics of your personality that have developed as you have grown as a person. It is important that you recognise these characteristics as gifts. However these gifts, if left undeveloped or used inappropriately or even overused can become weaknesses. You can make the most of your gifts by recognising them as potential strengths of your behavioural and personality style and capitalizing on them to develop them into actual assets, which is the key to fulfilment and success. It is important that you distinguish your own unique gifts as the pathway to success will never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach!

For example, a person who may be described as having an overall Analytical style (less assertive and less emotionally responsive) might the following potential strengths:

  • Logical
  • Systematic
  • Thorough
  • Prudent
  • Serious

However if used inappropriately, overused or over-relied upon, these natural characteristics could turn into the following weaknesses:

  • Prudent → Indecisive
  • Thorough → Nitpicky
  • Task-orientated → Impersonal
  • Systematic → Bureaucratic

But how do I know what my unique natural characteristics are? What is my people style? Well, the key is to focus on how others perceive you, NOT how you perceive yourself. This is because you are focussing on how you interact with and respond to others. Most people find that understanding their own people style (how others perceive them) is an important step in developing self-awareness. Once you recognise how others perceive you, this allows you to understand to greater depth the dynamics of each interaction and allow you to create, develop and maintain successful relationships. So ask around – get some honest feedback from others to find out your own unique traits!

Each gift is the foundation of a strength. Once you have recognised the gifts unique to your behavioural and personality style, how do you develop these characteristics into actual strengths?  Here’s how:

  1. Educate yourself. As Jim Rohn the American speaker and author said: “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Listen to audio-books, read how-to books and manuals, enrol yourself in classes, take tuition and coaching from an expert! On the way to capitalizing on your gifts you need to make sure you self-educate so that you have as much information as you can to assist you on your path to success.
  2. Observe others. Have you ever tried to assemble some furniture yourself using just a how-to manual? Anyone will tell you it’s often not enough and it will usually take more than one go to get it right. Reading how-to guides is helpful however when this is supplemented by watching another person act out the strength you are aiming to develop, you will learn more easily and quickly!
  3. Put your strength into permanent practice. The aim of practicing your gift is to make it a permanent ability, a permanent strength.  Just a note here however – practice does not always make perfect! When people are practicing something, they can tend to turn the action into a mindless, repetitive rote practice which makes permanent the current gift which might not necessarily have been developed into an asset yet.  You want to practice so that you are improving your capability to a higher level every time. Remember, it is about mindful repetition, with a focus on always improving and learning.

Put these three steps into effective action and you will be well on the way to improving your professional and personal relationships, and finding fulfillment and success.