CTech’s Book Review: Understanding the four behavior patterns

Barak Shachnovitz is the CCO at Peech, a personalized and automatic video editing and management platform. He has joined CTech to share a review of “Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)” by Thomas Erikson.

Title: “Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)”
Author: Thomas Erikson
Format: book
Where: Home, Commute, Vacation

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BiblioTech Peech Barak

BiblioTech Peech Barak

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If you want to be able to work effectively with people, you need to be an excellent communicator.

And at the end of the day, we all have people we need to communicate with, both at work and outside of it.

So, what makes someone an ‘excellent’ communicator? If you think about it, the success of communication is really based on how well the message is received. That’s why understanding how people process information and what information they will pay attention to are crucial first steps. Learning how to communicate with your employees, colleagues, and managers can make the difference between a productive team and a dysfunctional one.

Since I spend most of my day communicating with people, I’ve learned that when it comes to communication one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why I recommend that everyone read Thomas Erikson’s “Surrounded by Idiots.” We’ve probably all experienced the feeling that no one is listening to us, and that they’re all ‘idiots.’

In his book, Erikson explains that they’re not idiots, they’re just not you. He classifies four types of behavioral styles in people and explains how these different styles feel, think, and perceive the world differently. He then breaks down how to use this information to improve your team’s communication, motivation, and productivity.

As I mentioned before, effective communication is really based on the listener’s terms. Information is rarely received as the speaker intended. But instead of putting effort into trying to get your listener to pay attention, you need to adapt your message to the listener’s preferred style. If you want to be understood, you first need to understand the lens the listener will use to interpret your message.

The good news is, there are four behavioral styles that pretty much make up the entire population of people on this planet. Erikson uses a different color to represent each style and explains how certain personality traits affect this person’s preferred communication style.

“Red” – Are very driven, competitive, and love to take the lead. Ideally, they want you to get to the point as fast as possible, and to present them with a clear opinion.

“Greens” – Are very patient and easygoing. They’re loyal and more interested in preserving the unity of the team over their own personal needs. They do not take criticism well, so it’s best to share even the slightest feedback with them in private.

“Yellows” – Are outgoing and optimistic. They react rapidly to situations and are very impulsive, and disorganized, so giving them exact lists of their responsibilities can help eliminate miscommunications.

“Blues” – Are very organized, and not so interested in relationships. They ask a lot of questions, and if it seems like you don’t know what you are talking about they don’t take what you are saying seriously. So coming prepared is crucial.

Just from these short examples, you can begin to understand why what you say needs to change based on who you’re saying it to. As leaders, we need to use this information to actively develop a more positive work environment for our teams.

That being said, there are two situations where the information in this book won’t be helpful:

  1. If you are speaking alone in the room.

  2. If all the other people in the room are exactly like you.

Number 2 has never happened to me yet, so I’m assuming it’s extremely rare ;).

It’s my job as a leader to set the tone for how we communicate as a team. The more thought I put into it, the more people realize it’s a tool that can be used to improve collaboration and get better results. Ultimately, the fewer miscommunications we have, the less friction and the more success we will have as a team.

I found this book to be really helpful when I was building my first business and realized that I had a hard time communicating with my business partner when I was under stress. This would lead to both of us becoming frustrated, with no clear understanding of why it kept happening. After reading this book, I realized that my business partner had a completely different behavior type than me, and was not interpreting most of what I said in the way that I was intending. We also realized that this was usually happening during times of stress, which each behavioral type responds to differently. After Erikson’s book, I was able to pinpoint where our breakdown in communication was coming from, and how to “translate” what I was saying into a language my business partner could understand. After the initial adjustment to our communication, we barely had any more arguments.

Now, this is the first thing I pay attention to when meeting a new employee. I can quickly assess their behavioral style, and figure out how to relay information to them effectively. Not only that, but I know how to use what I learned with friends and family as well.

I’d highly recommend this book to any leader, manager, or team member who feels like they are surrounded by idiots.

It’s my favorite book so I might be a little biased… READ IT, TRUST ME.

Who Should Read This Book:

EVERYONE! We all communicate with someone during the day, it can only broaden your perspective and help you communicate better with others.

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