Time for another big idea in a bite-size portion. Some would say that an honest person, a person with integrity, will act the same no matter the situation. But I believe that someone can be the same person, can be their authentic self, and still act differently depending in their situation.
I agree that a person with integrity will be honest in all situations, but I don’t think someone has to act the same in every situation. Do you act the same way around your in-laws as you do with your guy or girlfriends?
Probably not. In fact, I’m going to propose that in order to succeed in business and personal interactions, you need to adjust your behavior based on the audience. A person who is the same to all people will fail.
Let me explain.
The Window to Your Soul (oooh…ahhh)
I’m going to assume you are pretty relaxed around your pals but clean up your language around the mother-in-law. In fact, you probably don’t tell the same jokes in both settings. What you may not know, is that by adjusting your behavior based on the situation, you are implementing a “sophisticated” psychological model called the Johari Window.
The Johari Window basically states that we each have a window of “openness” somewhere along the scale of complete introvert on up to uninhibited extrovert.
An Accountant and Car Salesman Walk Into a Bar…
If we want to take business stereotypes, an accountant would generally have a more closed Johari Window, meaning they were less open to unknown people or situations. A sales rep on the other hand, would have a wide open window, sharing all sorts of personal information with new acquaintances.
I say that successful communication in business and personal settings depends on our ability to adjust our Johari Window to our audience. If we open it wide up around some accountants, we will make them feel uncomfortable and probably stifle the conversation.
On the other hand, if we keep it closed at a meeting of sales reps, they will probably think us a bore and move on to more interesting conversation.
One thing to keep in mind is that our Johari Windows are not fixed throughout the day. They are naturally more open around our best friends and at home. They close a bit when we’re around new people or in unfamiliar territory.
Use the Force, Luke
Here are a few pointers when trying to assess another’s Johari Window:
- How loudly do they talk?
- How close are they standing to you?
- How expressive are they? Do they keep their arms folded or talk with their hands?
By adjusting your actions to match your audience’s window, you will put them at ease and further the conversation. Your business meetings will run smoother and you will make friends faster.
Now don’t say I never taught you the ways of the Jedi.