No, They Won’t Ask: How to Successfully Work with Expedient Colleagues (Part 2)

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Process-oriented introverts can benefit by educating those they work with about how to get the most out of them. Let them know you are process-oriented and you work best given lead time and deadlines. Share with them how they can utilize your strengths. “If you let me know the big picture and how this project fits in, and give me a deadline that is at least two weeks out, you’ll get my best.”

And don’t wait to be asked your opinion. Not everyone is as polite and as cognizant of protocol as you. If you are working with expedient extroverts, practice speaking out in meetings. It gets easier the more you do it. But practice your communication using primacy – that is, state the bottom line, your conclusion, first. Follow that with a couple relevant examples or facts to back up your conclusion and let people know if they want more information you are available for questions later or have a document with supportive data. Don’t lose your audience by overwhelming them with details.

I once had an expedient client who greatly valued his extremely process-oriented direct report but knew that he tended to interrupt him. He knew that was disrespectful but had a hard time not butting in when his employee was getting into details. His solution? He brought a stress ball with him whenever he spoke with this employee. When he felt himself starting to interrupt, he would squeeze the ball. It worked for him although I think he would have been a more valuable boss if he had coached his employee on how to speak with primacy when talking to expedient colleagues. (For a quick overview of primacy and recency communication, please check here.)

In emails, the same advice holds. Keep your emails to one screen, and use bullet points that focus on the bottom line. Expedient folks hate to read long emails and they won’t open attachments unless they are from their boss – and maybe not even then. So don’t bother attaching documents or at least don’t expect them to be read if you do.

In the October 3rd New York Times article Mark Zuckerberg’s Most Valuable Friend, the partnership between Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, and his COO Sheryl Sandberg is the perfect example of two behavioral opposites appreciating each other’s differences and using them to the advantage of the company, and to themselves personally. From the article:

‘Despite their obvious differences — or maybe because of them — Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg have grown close. “A lot of people choose to hire people who look exactly like them,” Mr. Zuckerberg says. “Here we just value balance a lot more. It takes work to build those relationships, but if it does work, you end up with a much better system.”’

So do the work to build those relationships, because you will be the primary beneficiary. Embrace the positive aspects of your expedient colleagues and reinforce those to them. If trust and respect are in place, you can identify those positive expedient traits of decisiveness, responsiveness, big picture thinker, confidence, fearlessness, multi-tasking and idea generation. They will appreciate being appreciated, and that’s a good start to a smooth working relationship. By adapting your communications and sharing with others how you work best, you’ll in turn be known for your positive influence and valuable contributions.

About the Author.
Sally Templeton is a coach and consultant who helps her clients attain more success and fulfillment in their professional lives. As an INFP, she tends to over-empathize with her introverted clients and wants them to be seen as the impressive leaders they truly are. You can read more from her at www. Managerevolution.blogspot.com.

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5 Comments

  1. Sally, thanks again for doing this great series for us. For me, the biggest “take home” is to remember to use primacy when talking to those extremely expedient people – especially if they’re bosses. Once they hear the important conclusion, then maybe they’ll let us tell them the facts too, or at least some of them!

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  3. Yes! The primacy thing was the big take home for me too. I am a big picture person (intp)…and at the same time, I tend to want to explain *how* I arrived at my conclusions, before just blurting them. Especially if my thoughts are complex (which they often are). After reading this, it just seems so obvious to lead with the conclusion. If they are curious (or suspicious or disbelieving or curious) they can ask me to explain. Thanks so much for these excellent articles.
    Patty K´s last post ..Let’s get something done

  4. I feel like my coworkers are always mad at me.

    I deal with two “bosses” at work, who technically “lead” me on jobs but have no supervisory authority over me, this alone leaves me pondering. I try not to think of what that really means b/c no one is clear on much of anything at my work.

    Which leads me to my next issue, so my one “boss” is an extrovert. She loves meetings with me, she blabs on and on, comes up with an “answer” and thanks me profusely for helping her come up with her solution. And usually, I have barely said a word. Meetings with her are an exhausting monologue of her thoughts hurled at me like meteors searching to bury themselves in my core. UGH~ I try to miminize these “meetings”. But the biggest issue here is the lack of direction, slap me upside the head later for crimes I didn’t even have a clue I was committing. I turn my work into her, she evaluates me to the big boss and then a month later sends it back with almost 20 questions on it, all seemingly unimportant AND changes formatting, lettering and colors in a presentation. Now this assault is akin to accidently running into a kindergarten classroom with a cool animal and being assaulted with those goofy questions kids ask that you have no answer for…but really don’t enhance anyone’s understanding in the end. And to top it off, she seems angry to have any questions at all like I was supposed to have soaked up all the crap she spews at the “meetings” and regurgitated it on the pages so it looks like she did it. Oh my gosh, my head is now spinning.

    So then there is the other “boss” meetings with her are like pulling taffy, it just gets harder and harder to pull the more you try to understand what she wants. And in the end you still have the same piece of candy, some good, some gross. I never know what she wants, each time I turn it in it puts me on pins and needles.

    OMG, if someone could just CLEARLY state their expectations then I would be happy to follow them, but this is just a daily anxiety ridden road hazard I have to walk. and to say the least, I’m unhappy.

    Oh I wish I could think fast enough to defend myself.
    J

  5. Oh my god this is so much real and I have the same experience with my boss.The harder you try to make your boss to understand it the tougher it gets and it comes up with zero results at the end.I like this series and waiting to read more from you.
    Sam´s last post ..Suspension luminaire pas cher

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