Most of you know that I teach information about personality styles. In the Model of Human Behavior, the left side of the model represents people who are more task-oriented and the right side represents those who are more people-oriented. Of course, everyone has some of both of these traits to a greater or lesser degree.
Having taught this model for over three decades now, I have come to believe that almost 90% of the conflict we experience goes back to the fact that we all view life from one of those two lenses: task or people. Whenever two people are involved in a situation where one is approaching any given situation as a task and the other is dealing with it from a relationship standpoint, it will only be a matter of time until conflict occurs. If I fail to understand your frame of reference or you fail to understand mine, it is a fact that we will constantly misunderstand what is taking place and wrongly judge each other.
Awhile back, I was taking a flight from Atlanta to Detroit. The captain of the plane demonstrated the greatest balance of this principle that I have ever seen in my life! The door to the plane had been shut, but before we took off, the captain stepped into the aisle and asked the flight attendant if he could use the P.A. system to make an announcement. Of course, she complied. He then took the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?” In light of all of the dangers that accompany flying these days, he did not have to ask twice for our attention! Every eye was focused on him.
The captain continued, “I have been flying for this airline for over 25 years. I just wanted to assure you that I know how to fly this plane. It is a beautiful day for flying and we are going to have a safe trip. However, the reason I wanted to have your attention is because I want to personally thank you for flying this airline today. If it were not for you, I would not have a job! I realize the economy is a little tough right now and all of us are hurting, so I want to thank you for trusting us with your business and travel needs today.
“I am going to get back into my seat in the cockpit in a moment and pay attention to what I need to do to get us out of Atlanta on time and into Detroit safely.
“I don’t know who your favorite team is that might be playing a ballgame today, but I sure do hope they win! I also hope you will take the time to get to know the people sitting next to you. Who knows? You might meet a new friend on the way.
“I will turn this back over to our flight attendants and go focus on my job. I want all of you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip and I’ll see you in Detroit!”
As soon as he finished speaking, applause erupted! It was almost like being at a pep rally! Everyone was laughing and smiling in agreement that his paying attention to flying correctly was a great thing to do!
As I sat there listening to him, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Has he been through one of my training programs?” He demonstrated so well the balance between being task-oriented and people-oriented. When he was telling us all about how he was going to be focused on his job, he was relating to the task aspect of the trip, but when he was thanking us for flying his airline and encouraging us to meet new friends, he was focusing on the people aspect. He did it in such an artful and balanced way that I honestly wondered if he had been trained in the Model of Human Behavior. (If you want to see it for yourself, go back and re-read what he said to us. Underline or highlight in one color everything that he said that was related to a task. Then, underline or highlight in another color everything he said that was related to people. You will soon see the balance between the two.) Again, it was the best demonstration I had ever personally witnessed in my life.
Now, I want to ask you a question. Which side of the equation do you find yourself on most of the time? Are you more task-oriented or are you more people-oriented? One type is not right or wrong. One type is not good or bad; they are just different. If you are more task-oriented, it would serve you well to visit the people side a little more often. Try being a little more friendly and lighten up a bit. And, if you are more people-oriented, try visiting the task side more frequently. It will help you be more focused on completing the task at hand or whatever you find yourself doing.
The next time you see conflict taking place, look carefully. My prediction is that it stems from the fact that the people involved are looking at the situation from two different frames of reference: one is task (results), the other is people (relationships). By implementing this simple concept, you can alleviate most of the difficult interpersonal challenges you face. And, to your credit, you will be a more well-rounded, balanced person who is able to meet the needs of all those with whom you come in contact.
If somebody told me they could give me one good tip that would resolve 90% of all the conflict in my life, I would certainly listen to it and apply it to the best of my ability. That is what you have been given in this Tip. It takes a little effort and practice, but you can do it! Now start practicing; put it to work and enjoy the benefits for the rest of your life!
Tip: Being task-oriented AND people-oriented is a great combination!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm