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Team Building Skills

The People Code

Taylor Hartman, Ph.D., has been counseling for over 30 years. He found a simple way to understand personalities that can help improve relationships. Dr. Hartman is the author of The People Code:  It's All About Your Innate Motive. He has identified four colors for defining people's personalities. There is a primary color as well as a secondary color that helps shape your personality.

The assessment may be taken free online (click on this link), and your primary color will be explained. Your primary color determines your primary motivation. (For a fee, the site will also give you a more comprehensive analysis.)

The four colors and their motivations are:

Red Power The Reds love to wield power. They get things done, and getting things completed quickly motivates them. They have vision and leadership and are normally responsible, decisive, and assertive.
Blue Intimacy The Blues are the do-gooders. They value intimacy, connecting, quality relationships, and having a purpose. They provide quality and service and are usually loyal, sincere, and thoughtful.
White Peace The Whites are the peacekeepers. They value peace, or the absence of conflict. They bring clarity and tolerance and are generally kind, adaptable, and good listeners.
Yellow Fun The Yellows are fun-loving. They value doing something fun just for the sake of having fun. They provide enthusiasm and optimism and are considered charismatic, spontaneous, and sociable.

If people could display bumperstickers based on their colors, here is what they might say:

Winning isn't everything...
It is the ONLY thing!

If you love someone, set them free.
If they come back, they are yours:
If not, hunt them down and kill them!

I finally got it together...
but I forgot where to put it.

I get enough exercise
just pushing my luck!

In our culture, people are often raised to be like their parents, and if you are trying to be someone that you are not, you may run into conflicts with your motives. For example, one student was raised to be a red and believed that power was the basic motivation for everything in his life. After taking the Color Code assessment, he learned that he was a blue. In hindsight he found that he was never satisfied by the power, and instead he wanted to develop relationships.

Understanding the differences between the motives will help you with your teams in the workplace. Those who have a different motive may tend to conflict with you, and if you can understand where they are coming from, you can strengthen your relationship.

Overview Chart

The chart below gives a brief overview of the four colors:

  Red Blue White Yellow
Motive Power Intimacy Peace Fun
Needs To look good (technically) To look good (morally) To feel good (inside) To look good (socially)
  To be right To be understood To be allowed their own space To be noticed
  To be respected To be appreciated To be respected To be adored
  Approval from a select few Acceptance Kindness Approval from the masses
Wants To hide insecurities (tightly) To reveal insecurities To withhold insecurities To hide insecurities (loosely)
  Productivity Quality Tolerance Happiness
  Leadership Autonomy Independence Freedom
  Challenging adventure Security Contentment Playful adventure

Color Limitations

Each color has its strengths and weaknesses. Once you understand your motivation and your limitations, you can work to make improvements. Below are each color's limitations and some life tips from Dr. Hartman.

The Red's Limitations

Recommended Life Tips

  1. Connect with others, both emotionally and socially. It’s out of your comfort zone, but you’ll find that it will motivate others and they’ll be more willing to help you accomplish your goals. You might not want to admit it, but you do need others to get where you’re going.
  2. Believe that other people can do things right too! Promote the positive in others while helping them focus on shared priorities. If you’re negative or critical it may create fear in others, causing them to go into crisis or try to escape, This will impact your bottom line.
  3. Relax! Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Being so demanding of yourself and others doesn’t create the confidence or quality you’re after.
  4. When setting goals, set them differently for yourself than you do for others. When setting goals for yourself, set those you know you can achieve with your strong sense of self-discipline and motivation. Be prepared to accept different styles when working with others.
  5. Avoid blaming others for failing to meet your commitments. That is a natural reaction for you, but you’ll find that others will be much more cooperative in helping you rectify the failure if you don’t.
  6. Think your problem through and seek others’ advice. You can sometimes make decisions that ignore the needs or perceptions of those in your life that will be affected. This can create more work for you down the road.
  7. You can’t do it all. Be open to suggestions—brainstorm with others to find solutions. This will both save you time and improve the team’s morale.
  8. Be cautious when imposing your demands on others’ time. They have their own priorities that they need to meet. Be aware of what others have to do as well.

The Blue's Limitations

Recommended Life Tips

  1. Try thinking rationally rather than reacting emotionally when pressured. Emotionalism can create chaos and unnecessary distress.
  2. Clearly state your limits when others impose deadlines on you. To them, they are asking just a small favor; they don’t realize what a huge commitment it is for you. Everyone has limits.
  3. Manage your expectations. Perfectionism narrows your focus, causing you to ignore other more important aspects of your life—like the quality of your relationships.
  4. Again, manage your expectations!! Don’t set unrealistic expectations of yourself or others to the extent that everyone feels overwhelmed. Goals are the road markers, not the criteria, of your success.
  5. Don’t personalize every people interaction you have. You often feel others have let you down, or you feel bad because you’ve let others down. Others aren’t nearly as hard on you as you are others and yourself. Relax! Concentrate on the task at hand rather than become emotionally discouraged or critical.
  6. Try viewing time management as fluid instead of absolute. If you fail to meet a deadline, punt! You’ll find this frees you up to be more creative (which you have an incredible talent for) and less self-critical.
  7. There are limits to what you can control. Really! You can’t control the weather, or the movement of the stars, and you certainly can’t control other people.
  8. Set a ten-minute limit in the day for worrying about any topic. When those ten minutes are over, so is your worrying. Get on with living in the moment, for that’s where true pleasure and happiness will be discovered!

The White's Limitations

Recommended Life Tips

  1. State verbally how you feel and what you perceive about yourself, current tasks, and others’ behavior. You tend to waste energy because you find it difficult to identify accurately how you feel and present it confidently to others.
  2. Address issues rather than avoid them. You’ll find that you feel empowered and less resentful.
  3. Believe it or not, conflict can be enriching! Share your ideas and seek others’ input, instead of taking their feedback personally. Choose to view others’ feedback as enlightening and as a way to broaden your horizons.
  4. Actively seek a sense of urgency. Sometimes you can miss living a passionate life because you refuse to get excited about projects and people. Don’t let time pass you by!
  5. Try setting proactive agendas, rather than merely reacting to agendas others set for you. Proactive attitudes will challenge your natural tendency to be passive-aggressive.
  6. Don’t be overly defensive when others seem demanding. Focus on what is being said rather than how it is being said.
  7. RISK A LITTLE. Set goals that require effort and will build your confidence instead of always taking a “wait and see” attitude.
  8. Make the concerted effort to control daydreams that rob you of valuable time to get legitimate work done.

The Yellow's Limitations

Recommended Life Tips

  1. Realize that “busyness” is not necessarily the same as purposeful action. Reflect on what is important and give it legitimate attention.
  2. Set specific goals each day and prioritize them. Work on your A1 goals first. Don’t go to your A2 priorities until you complete you’re A1. Do them in order.
  3. Focus on “what’s necessary” rather than “what’s fun.” Quality requires both. Don’t let others take on the responsibility of handling your “necessary” tasks.
  4. Set achievable “time bits” where you focus on a specific task for a specific amount of time and create a fun reward to sticking to it. Break up the monotony.
  5. Commit to the bigger picture. Create a long-term plan of substance and seek specific activities you can complete to make it a reality.
  6. Balance undemanding creativity with focused commitments. You’ll feed both your need for unstructured play and your need for accomplishment.
  7. Do a little planning up front so you “get it right” on the first time. You’ll save yourself tremendous time.
  8. Listen well so you don’t have to interrupt others for information already presented.

If you are intrigued by The People Code, read Dr. Hartman's book.

Next section:  The Johari Window

Team Building Skills
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Velda Arnaud, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Lead, Educate, Serve Society

Last updated 10/4/14 (va)
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