As some of you know, I’ve started writing my next book. Below is a sneak preview, and at the end, instructions on how to vote on a title. Those whose favorite titles are close to, or inspirational of, my final selection, will be mentioned by name in a special acknowledgement in the published book.

Overview:  In Bridges to Consensus, Chapter 3 “The Lenses of Love,” I described how The Golden Rule is not always enough to guide our communications, especially persuasive or consensus-seeking conversations. Briefly, this is because, while we may treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated, not everyone wants to be treated the same way in a given situation.

Differences in such preferences often arise from what I call “sleeper diversities,” things like temperament and intra-national culture. The sleeper diversities also inspire different preferences in communication style. Learning to recognize these preferences can help us understand those who might puzzle us, help them understand us, and build consensus with them.

My presentations on sleeper diversities are often the favorite sessions of my students, trainees and consulting clients. One Rice U student remarked that the session on culture, alone, was worth the cost of the whole course.

My new, as yet untitled book, treats the sleeper diversities in greater detail. The reader will learn how to easily identify four basic temperament types through characters we can get to know and understand.

  • Adam the Adapter excels at thinking on his feet and handling unforeseen problems and emergencies, but his direct, or even blunt, speaking style can offend others, and his courage sometimes turns to recklessness.
  • Paula the Planner is logical and wise. As a natural problem solver, she may become so absorbed with problems that they drag her down. She can use help staying in the moment and lightening up.
  • Connor the Conserver is our logistics whiz. He’s responsible, dependable and loyal, but can get stuck in a rut and resist change.
  • Diane the Diplomat oozes empathy and enthusiasm. She’s an eloquent spokeswoman, but sometimes sees only extremes and needs help finding a middle ground.

These characters will interact in ways every reader will identify with.

Adam and Paula differ about planning a camping trip; Connor and Adam disagree about how to entertain a foreign business visitor; and so forth. And we’ll see how each of them can communicate more effectively with the others.

For example, Adam excels at thinking in pragmatic and specific terms. So he tends to speak about things he is actually experiencing, things like personal activities, sights and sounds. These are the things that grab his attention. So, if Paula wants Adam to contribute to an animal rescue charity, she would do well to show him a picture of a cute rescue kitty cat. He resonates to the concrete visual image.

Paula tends to think, and therefore speak, in pragmatic but abstract terms. She considers the broader ramifications of current decisions and actions. How will her camping plans affect my companion Adam? How will the decisions her committee makes today influence future projects? If Adam wants Paula to contribute to animal rescue, he should give her a rationale about how rescuing large numbers of cute kitty cats and neutering them will ultimately decrease the feral cat population, and therefore, protect endangered bird species.

Through many other examples, the reader will come away with greater appreciation for each type’s style of thinking and acting and for how to appeal to those style preferences to build better bridges of consensus for all concerned.

An excerpt from the current draft to whet your appetite:

An Adapter Snapshot

            You can practice recognizing Adapters by the things they write about themselves in their online profiles. Adventurous Adapters are plentiful on dating sites. I did not have to set my search parameters to find one right away.  Here is a modified quote from an Adapter looking for love:

“I love life, I love living, and I’m darn good at both… Animal loving, jet skiing, outdoorsy—that’s me. Meet me at an antique shop or flea market. I love the thrill of the hunt for quirky vintage clothes and unique kids banks. Or let’s rock out to the oldies. I’m a dancer, too.”

 Adam might have written this profile.

            The “collector” facet, at first blush, seems out of place. Collectors are often Conservers like Connor. But notice what aspect of collecting appeals to this person—“the thrill of the hunt,” in other words, the challenge or competition.

            And while we’re on the subject of dating profiles, in love, as well as in friendship and work, Adapters think they want playmates by their sides. Actually, they make great playmates themselves. But as we shall see, they often benefit more from a companion of a different temperament. Like all of us, they benefit from diversity.

Title contest:  You can choose from one of the titles listed below, suggest a modification of one of the titles, or write a whole new title from scratch.

  1. Bridges Across Differences—How to Get Through to People Who Puzzle You
  2. Sleeper Diversity Training—How Understanding Temperament and Culture Can Help You Build Bridges to Consensus
  3. Communication Diversity Training—How Speaking Styles Can Make or Break Consensus
  4. It’s What You Say and How You Say It—How to Get Your Words in Sync with Others’ Personalities
  5. Persuasion, Temperament, and Culture—Appealing Words to Reach Every Personality
  6. Bridges to Understanding—Spanning the Temperament and Culture Gaps

You can cast your vote in either one of two ways:

  1. My preferred way is that you vote in the comment area just below this blog article. (Comments help the blog show up closer to the top of the list in search results.) After filling out the required fields (name and email), enter the number of the title you are voting for in the large comment box, or type in your alternate suggestion. Then scroll down to the small box labeled “captcha.” Do the little arithmetic problem below the box and enter your answer in the box. (This is to make sure comments to the blog come from real people.) Then click “submit.”
  2. Or you can email me your vote. If you don’t have my email address, just scroll up to the menu across the top of this page, and click “Contact.”

I will not use your email address to spam you.

The contest will end on Nov. 30.

I look forward to your votes and suggestions. Best of luck!