Your Busy Season Sitcom

PeterMargaritis-Blog-BusySeasonSitcomAs you head into the busiest time of year for the accounting industry as a whole, you’re more than likely starting to think about the clients AND co-workers you’ll have to navigate in the coming months. You no doubt have some real characters you get to work with. Have you ever imagined your work life as a reality tv show? Or how about a sitcom? One that might rival Seinfeld perhaps? Well, maybe not…but it’s pretty interesting (and funny) to start thinking about who you, and all your co-workers would be if you were in Seinfeld, for instance. I wrote an article around this idea, that based on the DISC model – a personality test that focuses on four quadrants: dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness – we could all be categorized into characters in a sitcom.

Why? I’ll let you in on an interesting tidbit, successful sitcoms often include a character from each of the following quadrants, because the resulting friction tends to be funny. Next time you watch a sitcom, take note of who is in what quadrant. Seinfeld is a perfect example of this, each of the main characters exemplifies one of the DiSC quadrants. So, let’s take a look and see which Seinfeld character you are.

Jerry Seinfeld: Dominance

These are the drivers among us. They are competitive, decisive, independent, determined, and results-oriented. They want control and admiration. They also tend to be domineering, impatient, and poor listeners. They dislike disorganization and wasted time. They don’t think you should bring your feelings into work. They can be hot tempered. Some see them as bullies. Some people in this category might be considered poor listeners. It’s likely because they often make a decision, and anyone else’s words are wasting precious oxygen.

Elaine: Influence

These are the cheerleader types who want to do what they love without being confused by the facts. These people are optimistic, animated, persuasive, imaginative, and enthusiastic. They are good communicators. They love having fun, being the center of attention, and receiving applause. They are dreamers. However, they may talk too much, overwhelming others with information. They have short attention spans. They don’t like being alone and they don’t like structure. At their worst, they tend to be disorganized and miss deadlines.

Kramer: Steadiness

These are the “can’t we all just get along and work together” people. They worry about whether others are okay. They are friendly, reliable, and supportive. They are patient and diplomatic. They want everyone to like them and obsess if someone doesn’t. They are very concerned about personal relationships and harmony in the workplace but tend to be overly sensitive, conformist, and lacking in time boundaries. They won’t tell you what they think; instead, they will tell you what you want to hear— which can be a dangerous trait. They don’t like to be rushed, they don’t want to be alone, and they avoid conflict when possible. At their worst, they tend to be indecisive, easily overwhelmed, and miss deadlines.

George Costanza: Conscientiousness

These are the thinkers. They want to get it right all the time, and they want to be efficient, thorough, accurate, and careful. They are disciplined and love solving problems and researching. This group tends to be very critical and picky. They don’t like disorganization or surprises. At their worst, they are rigid, argumentative, and stubborn. These are accountants, engineers, actuaries.

Now What?

Well, which sitcom character are you? When you start to understand where you fall within the quadrants, you can begin to think about how to work and respond to any cast of characters you may come across. Friction will naturally arise because these are people with opposite outlooks. Still, you must work well with all types, since every group contains people in each category. Here are a couple of tips for those who may be more dominant in other quadrants:

  • With those who are in the dominant quadrant, be direct, be specific, and offer multiple solutions. Remember, they are the decider. If you give them only one option, it’s more than likely going to fail, or it can become their idea instead of yours.
  • Those who are in the influence quadrant, be enthusiastic and positive, and avoid details. Put things in a way that they can relate to.
  • With those in the steadiness quadrant, engage in small talk, ask a lot of questions, and be informal, as if talking with a friend. Just don’t let them suck away your time and extend your workday. You need to be respectful but firm about managing the conversation. Let them know you appreciate the chatting, but it’s time to get down to business.
  • And for those of us who are in the conscientiousness quadrant (most accountants!), we need to communicate to people in the other three areas that we would like to focus on just the facts, please, so that we can get organized – and be efficient!

Having positive experiences with people from all backgrounds and perspectives starts with respect. Respect comes from having a better understanding of who people are and where they are coming from. By taking my Yes, And Challenge you can start to implement weekly communication tips which build respect with others. Just like in improv, communication goes two ways, so the better we understand others—including their pet peeves and their hot buttons, their likes and dislikes—the better we will get along and can feed off of one another.