Adapt with Personality Styles: Be the Chameleon

personality styles

It’s often said, the constant in today’s world is constant change. As such, our ability to adapt is increasingly important; important in our family life, social life and especially our professional life. Interpersonal adaptability is inherently about identifying, understanding and communicating with different personality styles. Can leaders adapt to the way their teams need to be lead? Can sales professionals adapt to the buying styles of their markets? Business speaker and personality styles thought leader, Merrick Rosenberg, offers his insights on adaptability this week. Do you know how to adapt and be the chameleon?

Adapt with Personality Styles: Be the Chameleon
By Merrick Rosenberg

T he most successful people are the most adaptable.

Charles Darwin called it over a 150 years ago when he commented, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Adaptability is the capacity to adjust to new conditions. It’s the ability to modify yourself and your responses to altered circumstances and environment. Being adaptable shows you possess the ability to learn from your experiences and improve yourself as a result.

Before you can qualify as a master-adapter, which I call, “The Chameleon,” you must first know yourself and understand others. An easy way to develop an understanding of what makes you tick is through the re-imagined DISC model that I introduced in my books, Taking Flight! and The Chameleon. The four DISC styles that I refer to as Eagles, Parrots, Doves and Owls, provide a deep awareness of your fears, motivators, desires, and tendencies.

Once you know your style, the next step is to identify the styles of the people you meet. When you know yourself and others, you can treat people the way they need to be treated and not unwittingly impose your style on them. When we impose our personalities on others, we unconsciously assume they have the same needs and desires as we do. Without meaning to, we send the message, “My way is the right way.” Or worse, “Who you are is not okay.”

 Alternatively, when we honor the stylistic needs of others, we enable them to revel in their gifts and fulfill their deepest needs. If we respect the personality styles, we can build meaningful relationships throughout our lives.

To determine the style of someone who hasn’t taken an assessment, such as the Taking Flight with DISC Profile, observe body language, tone, rate of speech, intensity, level of risk-taking, decisiveness, and pace. These markers readily reveal someone’s style. Identifying the styles of others is a skill and like all skills, it can be honed. The more you practice it, the better you’ll get.

When you find yourself interacting with someone whose style seems all over the place and different at different times, simply stay in the moment. You only need to determine which style he or she portrays in that moment and reflect it back.

Since people tend to treat others how they wish to be treated, use that to your advantage and reflect back what you observe. Be the Chameleon. Adapt to how people treat you, and you will satisfy the needs they have in that moment.

It’s important to note that you do not need to Be the Chameleon in every second of every interaction throughout your day. That would be draining and ultimately self-defeating. Instead, Be the Chameleon in important moments. When you find yourself in a critical conversation, that’s a good time to adapt.

Remember, you honor yourself and demonstrate empathy when you act as the chameleon.

Flexing to the needs of others is an act of compassion and it does take energy – but it is worth the effort.

While Darwin thought the most successful people are the most adaptable, it can also be said

that the most adaptable people are also the happiest. Given that flexible people are able to interact more respectfully and productively with difficult people, they can effectively manage conflict – or avoid it altogether… and that means less drama! Adaptable people guide themselves toward careers that play to their strengths and cultivate relationships based on respect rather than judgment.

So, be yourself and when the situation calls for it, Be the Chameleon!


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Merrick Rosenberg is a keynote speaker, entrepreneur and thought leader on personality styles. He co-founded Team Builders Plus in 1991, and Take Flight Learning in 2012. Merrick is the author The Chameleon and co-author of Taking Flight!.

Under Merrick’s leadership, his company has been selected as the NJ Business of the Year and named one of the Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia region. Merrick received his MBA from Drexel University who recognized him as the Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year. Merrick has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies in the US and around the world.

Merrick has led DISC training programs for more than 30,000 people and spoken to tens of thousands more on how to incorporate the personality styles in their work and lives. The DISC training program that Merrick designed, Taking Flight with DISC, was recognized as the Best Personality Styles Training Program in the United States by Corporate Vision Magazine.

Publications regularly seek Merrick’s input, as he has been interviewed by: New York Times, Fast Company, Fortune, Huffington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, InformationWeek, Parents and Glamour. Merrick is also a sought-after guest on radio and television shows.

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