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Communication Adaptability -- Part 1: Confidence

Posted 9 years ago

In this 10 part series, Dr. Tony Alessandra explores the 10 attributes of people who are highly adaptable.  In this installment, Dr. Tony explores the adaptability attribute of confidence. What is confidence really?  Why do some people naturally appear to have more of it? How do you develop it when you feel it’s lacking? And why is it so important? Communication Adaptability:  An Introduction is your willingness and ability to adjust your communication based on the particular needs of the situation or relationship at a particular time. It is something applied more to yourself (to your patterns, attitudes and habits) than to others.
For any situation, the strategic adjustments that need to be made will vary. The decision to employ specific adaptability techniques is made on a case-by-case basis: you can choose to be adaptable with one person, and not so with others. You can choose to be quite adaptable with one person today and less adaptable with that same individual tomorrow. Adaptability concerns the way you manage your own behaviors. It means adjusting your own behavior to make other people feel more at ease with you and the situation
Adaptability does not mean “imitation” of the other person’s communication style. It does mean adjusting your communication style in the direction of the other person’s preference, while maintaining your own identity.
Adaptability is important to all successful relationships. Effectively adaptable people meet other people’s needs in addition to their own. Through practice, they are able to achieve a balance – strategically managing their adaptability by recognizing when a modest compromise is appropriate, or, when the nature of the situation calls for them to totally adapt to the other person’s style, they do so. Adaptable people know how to negotiate relationships in a way that allows everyone to win. They are tactful, reasonable, understanding, and non-judgmental.
Your adaptability level influences how others judge their relationship with you. Raise your adaptability level and trust and credibility go up; lower your adaptability level and trust and credibility go down. Adaptability enables you to interact more productively with difficult people and helps you to avoid or manage tense situations. With adaptability, you can communicate with other people the way THEY want and need to be communicated with. It is practicing The Platinum Rule during interpersonal communications rather than The Golden Rule. I learned that lesson first-hand when I moved from the East Coast to San Diego… (Tell my Golden Rule/Platinum Rule story here).
The concept of adaptability, as developed by Dr. Michael O’Connor, my co-author of our People Smart books, is a two-part process. It combines flexibility with versatility. Flexibility is your willingness to adapt. It is your attitude.  Versatility is your ability to adapt. It is your aptitude.
When you have both flexibility and versatility, you display specific characteristics. In fact, formal research studies have identified 10 attributes of people who are highly adaptable.  Those who have lower adaptability also display 10 distinct characteristics. Of course, none of us is totally adaptable, or totally non- adaptable, which is why it’s so important to know both the 10 characteristics you can adopt to increase your communication adaptability and the 10 that can undermine your ability to adapt.
So let’s examine these characteristics, beginning with the 5 positive and 5 negative qualities of flexibility.
High flexibility is characterized by these five attributes: (1) Confidence, (2) Tolerance, (3) Empathy, (4) Positiveness, and (5) Respect for Others. The first attribute, confidence means that you believe in yourself, you trust your own judgment and resourcefulness.
Having confidence means you believe in yourself, you trust your own judgment and resourcefulness. In his many books on self-esteem, Dr. Nathaniel Branden defines self-esteem as the sum of self-confidence and self-respect. For him, self-confidence is knowing that you have the wherewithal to function reasonably well in the world.
You feel competent to make choices, competent to satisfy your needs, to chart the course for your life. Having confidence in specific situations, such as in gaining influence with someone, would flow from a general self-confidence about your ability to meet life’s challenges.
A person who exhibits confidence appreciates a sincere compliment and doesn’t brush it off. A confident person is comfortable giving, and receiving, compliments. He’s also able to handle criticism if it comes his way because he basically likes himself and knows that a single negative incident won’t change that.
Confidence in yourself gets built up over time. You can fake confidence, and you may need to at first, but real self-confidence comes from a history of small victories and accomplishments that add up to a sense that you can handle yourself well in most every situation. I suggest you take an inventory of the major accomplishments you’ve achieved over the past few years. Then remind yourself of the minor ones too. What about the computer course you completed? Have you built anything that still standing? What about those kids you’re raising? That’s (!) an accomplishment. Don’t be modest. Tell the truth about how hard you worked, what sacrifices you’ve made. If you can’t think of any, then begin by congratulating yourself for living as long as you have. Sheer survival is an accomplishment these days! Seriously, it pays to take the time to know your strengths and appreciate them. What’s unique about you? What skills do you bring to an organization or project that you can count on?
Confidence is a fundamental trait for flexibility. It’s hard to be flexible when you’re fearful, or easily intimidated. Confidence is indispensable if you want to engage someone’s attention.

tony alessandraDr. Tony Alessandra has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having been raised in the housing projects of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, internet entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. He earned a BBA from Notre Dame, a MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University (1976).
Known as “Dr. Tony” he’s authored 30+ books and 100+ audio/video programs. He was inducted into the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame (1985) and Top Sales World’s Hall of Fame (2010).  Meetings & Conventions Magazine has called him “one of America’s most electrifying speakers”.
Dr. Tony is also the Founder/CVO of  Assessments 24×7.  Assessments 24×7 is a leader in online DISC assessments, delivered from easy-to-use accounts popular with business coaches and Fortune 500s around the world.  Interested in learning more about these customized assessment accounts? Watch this short animated video!