A big Italian-American bear of a man with a love of jazz, Brazilian music, and Eastern philosophy, Artise has been in the business of communication for close to 30 years. He developed the system he works with now after an experiment he conducted as a career coach to try to help his clients crack the code of getting hired: He spent eight years posing as a job applicant, during which time he sat through 300 interviews. "The process was a mess," Artise says, because each person was speaking a different language. He administered more than 5,000 communication style assessments to people in corporate outplacement and training to investigate language styles. After analyzing the results, he identified four types of communicators: The Feeler uses language to express emotion. The Sensor is driven by the drumbeat of constant deadline; she's interested in getting things done quickly. The Intuitor thinks in terms of the conceptual and long-range plans; he's a problem solver but not necessarily interested in sticking around to implement solutions—he'd rather move on to the next puzzle. The Thinker operates on logic: She loves organization and systems, and unlike the Intuitor, she likes to see projects through to the bitter end.
"Once I saw how hard it was for them to communicate with each other," says Artise, "it became clear that we needed to learn to recognize and even speak in each other's styles if we ever wanted to get what we needed at work and in life—cooperation." Success, Artise explains, isn't a matter of Sensors hiring only Sensors, or Intuitors working only with Intuitors. It depends on recognizing what is necessary for each person to do his best.
I took the assessment test. I came out a Feeler, and thought I was stuck there but found out that under different circumstances, we shift into other communication styles. Under stress my Thinker takes over. That's good news because the Thinker is clear and logical—balancing my emotional Feeler tendencies. Artise says that other people under stress might slip into Sensor mode. You know what I'm talking about: You walk into a meeting with your boss, and he makes you feel as if the clock is ticking before you've even opened your mouth. Sensors are very efficient, but when pressed, they become abrupt. The best way to drive a stressed-out Sensor crazy is to throw an Intuitor in her path—someone who is abstract, idealistic, and can take a while to get to the point. On the other hand, an overwhelmed Sensor can appreciate Thinkers and their habit of sticking strictly to the facts.
Artise explained that each type has its good and bad traits. As I read the list of characteristics for a Feeler, I was a bit pleased with myself: They're empathetic, concerned about others, they like to help people solve their problems. But when stretched, Feelers can be manipulative, impulsive; they can overpersonalize, become too subjective, and stir up conflict. I felt the sting that only recognition brings. Fortunately, Artise says Feelers are the most interested in making changes and the most willing.
My next task was to put this new knowledge into practice and try to get the cooperation I was hoping for. I messed up a lot, and my days were punctuated by phone calls to Artise, before things started to improve at work.
"I'm getting stonewalled by H."
"Don't forget he's a Feeler," Artise replied. "End every e-mail with a question he can answer. It'll make him feel good about himself and good about working with you. Every chance you get, remind him he's great, and you just couldn't function without him. Feelers love that." Indeed H did. After a few interactions using Artise's techniques, H said yes so quickly to my requests, it made my chair spin.
"I'm getting nothing but impatience and dismissiveness from R."
"She's in Sensor mode," Artise said. "Give her what she needs to do the work. Go in prepared with what you're going to say. Then get out fast." Soon, whenever I needed information from R, if she took more than an hour to get it to me, she included an apology.
"G starts every sentence midthought, and I have trouble understanding him. He gets irritated when I ask questions."
"He's an off-the-charts Intuitor. He thinks what's in his brain is also in yours. Let him speak for a while and then ask your questions. He'll feel he's had a chance to be heard, and you can locate yourself in his thinking process. Let him know that you love his ideas and want to know more—you're just having trouble absorbing them so quickly." This person became a treasured mentor.
I felt a bit manipulative using these techniques, until one day the veil lifted: I was giving people what they needed to feel safe working with me. They were happier and that thought made me happy. The method had fallen away.
We Hear You!