What’s got into them today?

We’ve all seen it happen, we go into a meeting with a known and trusted colleague and, out of the blue, our usually level-headed and sociable friend turns into someone you barely recognise. The colleague who is usually so self-confident becomes over-bearing and pushy, the one who is usually so analytical becomes obsessive and the one who is normally so supportive appear now to be smothering. Why?

The vast majority of people, in the vast majority of situations, want to get on, particularly within on-going business relationships. Respect, engagement and wellbeing are watchwords in today’s business environment and you know your colleague respects and adheres to these principles.

So what’s changed?

The group has changed. It’s not just the two of you any more, you are in a meeting with other people, people you want to impress, persuade, engage with and like you. They may be potential customers or suppliers, a new hire or a potential business partner. The important thing is you, and your colleague, want to give the best impression of yourselves as possible, and the higher the stakes the harder you’ll try.

And how do you do that?

Easy; you deploy your strengths. You know what you’re good at, what people tell you they admire about you, and the behaviours that have gained you success in the past. So you go for it, you act to your strengths as hard and as often as you can, you aim to dazzle the other party with your brilliance. And you fail. The other party is wholly unimpressed and reacts badly to your behaviour. At best they disengage, at worst the meeting breaks down completely.

What has gone wrong?

It’s a matter of opinion

It’s about perspective, and the point at which something becomes excessive is a matter of opinion. Just as my opinion of whether the temperature in the office is too hot or too cold may differ from yours, so our opinions of other’s behaviour is subjective. And that’s the issue here, the point at, for example, confidence becomes arrogance varies, and the risk is we aren’t aware of it. In trying to impress the other party we can overdo our strengths, rendering them ineffective.

Then, to make matters worse, the more negative responses we get, the harder we try to overcome them by deploying our strengths even more, using them too often, too intensely, for too long, or in the wrong context. What we know is a strength is perceived by the other person as a weakness and can lead to conflict.

And it’s not just confidence/arrogance that this applies to, it applies to all our behaviours. When overdone, quick-to-act becomes rash, cautious becomes suspicious, flexible becomes unpredictable. Every one of the 28 strengths in our Strengths Deployment Inventory, the 28 strengths we all possess to greater or lesser degrees, can be overdone and become weaknesses.

Pause for Thought

So the next time you’re in a high stakes meeting where you feel you are playing absolutely at the top of your game but you’re not getting the results you expected, pause for thought. Perhaps you’re not playing to your strengths, you’re over doing them.

If you would like to discover how to achieve your desired outcomes by deploying the appropriate strengths at the right time, please contact Personal Strengths on 01780 480102.

Lisa Graham, Director of Client Relationships
Lisa has years of experience helping clients to implement and sustain performance improvement projects on a global scale. Her areas of expertise include, leadership, team management, relationship management, conflict management, culture change, sales and negotiation. She works closely with her clients throughout all the phases of the training cycle.


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