Who Gets Along and Why It Works



Who Gets Along and Why It Works

Group Dynamics at Their Finest

The short answer is that a group should consist of all colors to create the best possible dynamic. In a perfect world, we would have an equal number of each color. The Yellow comes up with a new idea, the Red makes the decision, the Green has to do all the work, and the Blue evaluates and makes sure that the results are excellent. But this isn’t the case. Not infrequently, we find Yellows in positions better suited to Reds. Or, in the worst cases, they have been able to talk their way into a job that actually requires Blue behavior. Indeed, there are many examples of people who are sitting in the wrong chairs, and part of the explanation lies in the fact that they lack the natural prerequisites to manage their jobs. Moreover, all this has to do with what driving forces different people have. Different people are motivated by different things, and it can cause them to move away from their core behavior in specific situations. But that’s a whole other topic and not something I cover in this book.

So how do you put your team together? Look at the picture on the following page. Here you can see why certain combinations are more suitable than others. If you’re recruiting members to your team, this may be a good place to start.

As you can see, different colors work differently together. Again, there are plenty of exceptions, but if no one in the group has any knowledge of their behavior pattern some colors will naturally work well together. For instance, it’s generally easier for two people to work together if they have the same sense of tempo and work at a similar speed.

Natural Combinations

If we look at the diagram above, we can see that Blue and Green could be a suitable combination, without much of an effort from either of them. They would certainly recognize themselves in each other’s ability to breathe calmly and to think twice before doing something. Since both are introverts, each of them feels secure with the other. It’s the same kind of energy. Neither of them will build castles in the air, because they prefer to keep both feet on the ground. They don’t stress but allow themselves to dive deeply into things. Sure, they may find it difficult to make decisions, but the decisions that they do make will probably be well thought out.

Similarly, Red and Yellow work smoothly together, since they both want to shoot from the hip and always move forward. Here we also have the same kind of energy, only a different type. Both are powerful and outgoing, and because both are verbal, they can easily find the right words. Certainly, they’ll have a different focus in the conversation, but the dialogue will still flow. Both set high goals and think quickly. A team of Yellows and Reds will set a fast tempo, and while they are both clear about what they want, they’ll motivate those around them to achieve great things. The challenge probably lies in the fact that a Red can perceive a Yellow as being too talkative, but since neither of them is a world-class listener, they’ll both just switch off when it suits them.

Complementary Combinations

It also works to look at the other axis and make pairings based on each color’s focus. Both Blues and Reds are task oriented. Reds are certainly more interested in the result than in the process itself, and Blues are more concerned with the process and tend to ignore the result—but they’re at least speaking the same language. Both devote themselves to work and only spend limited time chatting about football or home improvement—except maybe at lunchtime. They would complement each other in a good way. If we liken this to a car, a Red is the accelerator, while a Blue is the brake. Both are needed in order to drive successfully. The trick is not to push both pedals at the same time.

Similarly, there is some logic in placing a Green with a Yellow. The tempo at which they work will be different, but both of them will be curious about each other. Both believe that people are interesting and important. While one likes to take it easy, the other likes having fun. They’ll easily find a similar focus. The Green will allow the Yellow to take as much space as he wants. One talks; the other listens. It can work out well. In addition, Greens are good at calming down the slightly hysterical Yellows, who sometimes have a hard time staying grounded. Of course, there’s a risk that they’ll fail to devote sufficient time to the work itself, but they will have a very good time. People around them might feel that they’re only having a good time and not actually delivering anything. As both can find it difficult to say no, it might also be a good idea to avoid entrusting them with too much money.

Challenging Combinations

At the same time, there are two very complicated combinations. This doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to work together, but it definitely means that there are obstacles that need to be considered. One possible solution is that both of them become more self-aware in the ways that they work and interact with each other.

Look at the illustration on the following page.

The right column shows the things the person himself sees in his profile. The left column shows how his exact opposite could perceive him in less favorable circumstances. You’ve probably heard that a person is a real bore, only to meet him and discover a very interesting person with lots of exciting things to say. Who’s right and who’s wrong? It depends on whom you ask.

The problem lies in the interaction between each color and its exact opposite. The positive image expresses how each profile experiences himself. The negative image is an expression of how he can be experienced by others. We all see different things.

Genuine Problems

It would be quite a challenge to put a Red and a Green together issues solve a problem. If the task depends on effective cooperation, then issues will quickly arise. In the beginning, the Green is very passive, especially when compared to the Red, who gets going even before he’s heard the instructions. While the Greens think it’s burdensome to have to do their part, the Reds have already started in a hurry.

The Red will be very critical of the Green’s constant moaning about the amount of work. At the same time, the Green will think that the Red is an aggressive son of a bitch who never listens. Nevertheless, under favorable circumstances it may work out. In general, a Green is prepared to cooperate; that’s their strength. They function well with many other people because they’re more accommodating than demanding. So there can be a certain logic in setting a Red with a Green. A Red likes giving orders, and a Green is usually okay with receiving orders.

Based on Marston’s theories (see page 227), the greatest challenge of all is to ask a Yellow and a Blue to work together. If neither of them is aware of how their personalities work, there will be friction from the outset. The Yellow dives into the task without the slightest idea what to do or how to do it. He doesn’t read any instructions, and he doesn’t listen long enough to find out what the task is actually about. He’ll speak at great length about what an exciting project they’ve been given. In the meantime, the Blue starts reading and researching all the material available. He doesn’t say a word but just sits there. More or less motionless—he thinks.

The Yellow, on the one hand, will consider him to be the most uninspiring bore he has ever met. The Blue, on the other hand, will only be disturbed by the Yellow’s perpetual verbal barrage. He’ll slowly begin to boil beneath the surface because of the incessant buzzing around him. He believes that the Yellow is a frivolous windbag, not deserving any attention whatsoever. And when the Yellow finally realizes that he hasn’t won the Blue over to his side, he’ll pull out all the stops and talk even more. In the worst case, he’ll try to charm the Blue, which will end up driving them to disaster. They’ll sit in their own corners, with faces like they’ve tasted sour milk, both mad for completely different reasons.

Self-awareness, my friend, is the solution.

Go Green!

It is not easy to read and interpret everyone. If a person only has one color, then you won’t have any problems with him once you’ve finished reading this book. It will be obvious what you should do. A person who is only Red or only Yellow is hard to miss. But even the genuine Greens or Blues are quite easy to detect if you know what to look for.

As I mentioned earlier, statistically speaking only about 5 percent of the population has just one color that shows in their behavior. Around 80 percent have two, and the rest have three. No one has four, not with the tool that I use.

It’s also relatively easy to recognize people who have two colors. Two color combinations normally follow any of the axes. So they are: Blue/Red, Red/Yellow, Yellow/Green, or Green/Blue.

It does happen, of course, that purely opposite qualities can be found in one and the same person. I’ve met lots of Yellow/Blue people. There is nothing wrong with that; it’s just less common. But what’s really unusual is distinctly Red/Green profiles. Why this is the case I don’t know.

On one occasion, I met a woman who was a middle manager working for a company in the car industry. She was determined and powerful in her manner, but, at the same time, she was extremely caring. Her care and attention for her employees was genuine, and it had some strange results. Among other things, she could lose her temper very quickly. Her telling-offs were legendary. Once she realized this, however, she would do whatever she needed to soften the effects of her actions and repair the damage. She felt genuinely bad for having been hard on various individuals, but at the same time she couldn’t control herself. This friction between the two conflicting colors in her behavior (Red and Green) meant that she was very close to burnout.

People with three colors will always be more difficult to interpret. If someone is very difficult to place on the map, it may very well be because he has three colors. The situation will determine what his behavior will be.

The best advice I can give if you really can’t analyze the person you meet is to shut your mouth and start listening. Simply act Green if you are unsure. People sometimes tells me that they can’t understand a certain person because he doesn’t do anything. But even a person who is very passive exhibits some form of behavior. And at this stage, you know what color is associated with someone who doesn’t do much—that’s a common Blue behavior.


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