I heard it again the other day.
In speaking with a colleague, she described her partner as being “such a Type-A personality.”
I had to laugh, because while we’re all familiar with the notion of the stereotypical “Type-A personality” as being structured, rigid, perhaps a bit uptight and/or even a control freak, I don’t think I can ever recall hearing the opposite: have YOU ever heard someone referred to as a “Type-B personality”?
Have you ever thought about that? Or is it one of the many random things that gets caught on my radar but nobody else seems to notice? (Or have you actually heard or even used the phrase “a Type-B personality”?)
Another one of those distinctions I always hear but never know exactly how to interpret is when someone says “I’m really left- (or right-) brained so (X) just doesn’t work for me.”
I always feel stumped when I hear that, and think, “Don’t we use both hemispheres (assuming we think at all before making decisions)? What exactly is supposed to be limited to one side of the brain or the other?”
Broadly speaking, the right hemisphere is supposed to dominate logic, math, and other forms of linear thinking, while the left hemisphere is more geared toward creative, sensory, experiential learning and processing.
But one way or another, the simple fact is that we need to communicate with people who “lean right” AND those who “lean left” in this way, on a daily basis… and we need to do it effectively.
In this week's episode of Speaking to Influence podcast, my guest is Liz Dow, founder and executive director of Leadership Philadelphia. Liz talks about this challenge specifically, because of the range of audiences she has to address daily.
Although she considers herself a more “creative type,” whether talking to the large corporate sponsor or a non-profit looking for resources, Liz knows that she has to assess her audience and adapt her approach so that they can receive her message in the way that they can best digest, whether they prefer a concrete message or a more creative one.
This is no small task, given that Leadership Philadelphia brings together an incredibly diverse group of stakeholders, ranging from leaders in corporate giants like Comcast (don’t miss our interview with Comcast SEVP David Cohen) to local community non-profits such as Education Works (and our conversation with executive director Jamil Rivers) and historians, artists and filmmakers like Sam Katz (did you catch our 2022 kickoff episode?) to pool their collective genius, learn from and about each other, and collaborate to uplift the city and the lives of its citizens overall.
Am I more right-brained or left-brained? Good question. I’ve been told I’m extremely analytical and detail oriented; I tend to argue from a logical rather than an emotional perspective, and I’m a linguist, all of which probably indicates right-brain dominance.
But those of you who know me also know that math was never my subject, which would certainly indicate that I’m only partly right-brained at best!
But one detail in my conversation with Liz bypassed my brain completely and went straight to my heart: Her 24-hour Listener Influence Challenge.
It’s simple but powerful in that it requires people to be vulnerable in a wonderfully positive way: by letting others into what touches their heart. Liz challenges us all: In the next 24 hours, simply ask someone, “What is the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for you?”
I love that it gets right to the essence of that which is inherently good in people. You don’t do something kind in hopes of credit or payback, or out of obligation. The fact that you felt it was kind, means that it came from their heart, and more importantly, touched yours.
What would it be like if we approached more conversations simply from an angle of kindness, regardless of underlying purpose for having the conversation in the first place? What a difference that could make…
Do listen to the rest of Liz’s fabulous insights on leadership and communication – then drop me a line and answer her Influence Challenge question: what’s the kindest thing anyone has ever done for YOU?