In February 2012, IIBA Auckland hosted ‘Managing Communication for Business Analysts’ with Anna McNaughton of Work and Play.
In honour of being held near St. Valentine’s Day, Anna chose to look at how communication is the key to great relationships, from home to work and everywhere in between, and introduced us to a fun profiling tool that looks at our communication styles, to help us understand why it seems some people are easier to work with, that some people seem to understand where we come from.
Profiling tools were developed in the early 20th century, following psychologist Dr. William Marston’s theory of four basic personality types: dominant, influential, steadfast and compliant, or DISC as it now more commonly known. Many other profiling tools evolved, similarly breaking people into one of a limited number of types, to help people assess styles of thinking, behaviour, or communication (e.g. MBTI/Myers-Briggs, HBDI/Herrmann, LSI/Human Synergistics, etc.).
These are licensed and restricted to use by certified practitioners, however there is one that has elements of all those, is open source and royalty free:
The four-bird model (sometimes also called DOPE, as the four birds it uses to represent communication styles are the Dove, the Owl, the Peacock, and the Eagle) was originally developed by Dr. Gary Couture, and has become popular because it is freely available and more accessible (most people can relate easier to a visual object like a bird, rather than just a concept or descriptive word).
The Dove is sympathetic, moderate, people-focused.
The Owl is technical, analytical, process-focused.
The Peacock is expressive, persuasive, recognition-focused.
The Eagle is bold, confident, results-focused.
It takes only minutes to complete a self-assessment questionnaire and map your results onto a grid to determine which type of bird you are. See the example shown below, which maps a score of 1.7 for responsiveness and 3.2 for assertiveness, indicating the person is a Peacock.
You can also use this exercise with your colleagues, as a fun ice-breaker and a useful tool to acknowledge that a team needs all types.
Although this is a highly subjective technique that only assesses you in the moment, it does illustrate how our awareness of different communication styles can help us communicate more effectively.
I have attached a downloadable PDF version of the self-assessment questionnaire with fuller explanations of the four birds.