We are nuanced. We are not one way, with all people, in every situation. Our personalities naturally adapt and fluctuate. But we each have a preferred “gear” we tend to drive in.
Imagine your personality as a six-story building. And your operating system is the elevator connecting all six floors.
Your elevator comfortably sits on the first floor. With a minimal amount of energy, your elevator can go to the first floor. With each additional higher floor, your elevator requires more energy in order to get there.
What I just described is the Process Communication Model’s analogy for how we operate within our unique composition of personality types that exist within us.
We each have a “base” operating mode that comes really naturally. We all have access to the other five, but for those on our “top floors” it may require a lot more energy, focus and empathetic investigation in order to get up there and access them.
Why do we want to tune up our elevator to quickly and skillfully access each of the six floors? Because everyone else’s six-floor composition is very different.
Imagine two coworkers. One’s base floor is the other’s sixth floor, and vice versa.
If both are untrained in adapting their communication style, it would be as if both of their elevators haven’t been serviced in a long time. They are creaky and sluggish, and have a hard time making it up to just the third floor. Chances are those two co-workers are going to have a hard time collaborating effectively. There may even be some animosity that develops between the two.
Ideally, everyone would have smooth, efficient elevators. But while we strive for that, a single person on a team who is trained in Process Communication can identify solutions to help even those “creaky elevators” work more effectively together.
The Process Communication Model breaks down what it considers to be the six main personality types in this way:
- Prefer to process information through their own belief system.
- Are conscientious, fastidious, and have a keen sense of observation.
- Communicate in a style that is an exchange of values.
- Motivated by recognition of their dedication, work and convictions.
- In distress, they can become unrealistic in their expectations. Can become self-righteous and condescending.
- Prefer to process information through their feelings.
- Are compassionate, warm and sensitive individuals.
- Favor benevolent communication styles.
- Motivated by recognition of their personhood and pleasing others.
- Love pleasant sensory experiences.
- In distress, they lose assertiveness and can make mistakes when they lose self-confidence.
- Prefer to process information in a logical manner.
- Are rational, responsible, and well-organized.
- Favor a democratic communication style, data-driven exchange of information, and one-on-one communication.
- Motivated by recognition of their good work and time-management skills.
- In distress, they can overthink or take complete control, fail to delegate, and be overly critical of others.
- Prefer to process information intuitively, in tactile, experiential ways.
- Are spontaneous, creative and playful.
- Favor communication styles centered on humor and spontaneity in a group setting.
- Motivated by interaction and sensory stimulus.
- In distress, they can lose the ability to think clearly, become negative and blame others.
- Prefer action-based objectives and directives.
- Are adaptable, persuasive and charismatic.
- Favor group environments that circulate and incorporate intense activity.
- Motivated by excitement and competition.
- In distress, they can withdraw support and abandon other team members. And sometimes manipulate and instigate negative interactions.
- Prefer being reflective and soaking everything in.
- Are imaginative, calm and exploratory.
- Favor solitary environments to explore alternate paths toward a specified directive.
- Motivated by autonomy and individuality.
- In distress, Imaginers withdraw and isolate, trying to avoid initiative and responsibility.
By increasing our awareness of all six of these communication styles within our own personality, and identifying how easy or challenging it is for us to operate in each, we become more empathetic and proficient at adapting our communication with others.
When every team member feels motivated and inspired in their unique way, the team as a whole is pretty much unstoppable. And when conflict does arise, applying the Process Communication Model can help identify the best way to resolve the issue through facilitating adaptive communication and finding a mutually beneficial solution.