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Here is the cheat sheet for modifying your behavior style in small ways that can make a big difference.  If you just bite off a little bit instead of trying to turn yourself inside out, you can go a long way in fixing that thing your boss is unhappy about.

For all you Solid types…you win the prize for nicest person to work with but you run the risk of always being thought of as a second stringer.  Because you are so uncomfortable stating strong opinions or coloring outside the lines everyone thinks you don’t have the balls to really make things happen.  Here’s how all those pleasantries sound to others.

  • If we make those changes, Joe and Sue and Sam and Barb will really have a hard time.
  • Maybe we can do this in phases so that we can get used to pieces of this instead of a wholesale change.
  • Let’s get team T-shirts with our new tag line.  That’ll get everyone fired up.
  • I don’t want to be out of line here or overstate my case but…
  • From a business perspective it makes sense to shut down that operation but think about the people and the impact on them and their families.

Again, we all applaud your thoughtfulness and the world is a better place because of people like you but we’re running a business here not a social service agency.  Try changing your tune just a bit.

  • Make some declarative statements.  Drop ambivalent words from your vocabulary.  Words like maybe, sort of, kind of, on the other hand, it depends.  Start sentences with phrases like “I believe we need to” or “it is clear that we must” or “the best solution is”.  Don’t be concerned that making a strong statement will upset others.  It’s quite the reverse.  People are dying to find out what you really believe.
  • Lead with business remarks.  You need to let others hear your deep expertise and business sense.  You speak of people issues too frequently in the midst of a hardcore business discussion.  Walk through a summary report you created or offer bottom line numbers or show your project plan to let others know that you are tackling tough business issues.  Every time you speak about people issues you take a credibility hit.  At the very least, try to strike a different balance.
  • Break out of one routine.  You do not love change and that means you will struggle at work because that is the name of the game.  So pick something small and do it differently so you develop some change muscles.  If you always take a coffee break at 3:00, take it at 4:00 and get water instead of coffee.  If you always fill out expense reports at the last possible moment, put it in your calendar to do them a week in advance…and actually do them.  If you always take the minutes at staff meetings, ask a colleague to do them instead.  Just take baby steps.  You may discover that you like it.
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