Staff show true colors at meeting

November 11, 2010
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The presentation at the UCCS Staff Council meeting Nov. 12 made some of the staff blue, but not unhappy.

Kim Hennessy, director, Human Resources Compliance, shared a method of improving communication, featuring a communication theory based on colors.

In her “True Colors” presentation, Hennessy pointed out that various personality traits, core values, and context are some factors that influence a person’s communication style. She showed that by collecting a number of factors into four color groupings, communication styles can be identified. A person who understands different communication styles can communicate more successfully.

“Color Lingo is a way to look at our individual communication styles,” she explained.  “By understanding our own style of communication, and the common communication patterns of each personality style, we are better able to appreciate and understand the different approaches to communication. Once we recognize the styles of our co-workers, we are equipped with tools for making communication meaningful and productive. We are able to open up the lines of communication, welcome diverse input and celebrate the different ways we all act, feel, think and communicate.”

Hennessy conducted a brief survey, having staff members identify their individual traits through a series of multiple choice questions. Responses determined whether a person fit into a blue group, a gold group, a green group or an orange group. According to this color theory, people in each color group primarily hold a specific core value. Blue values relationship, gold values responsibility, green values competency and orange values freedom.

Traits of individuals in each group can be further identified, Hennessy said. In general, blue group people are cooperative, passionate and optimistic caretakers, with a communication style that reflects this. Gold group people are detail-oriented planners who believe in rules and tradition. Green group people are logical, analytical problem solvers with set standards. Orange group people are spontaneous, playful, multi-tasking competitors who favor a non-structured environment. And the traits common to each group usually define communication style.

After the survey and color identification, Hennessy separated staff members into their designated color groups for an exercise in discussing stressors, strengths, and other motivating factors. Staff members agreed they shared some of the same qualities and communication styles as others in their groups.

While placing people into color groups does not perfectly define them nor make all communication simpler, Hennessy demonstrated that such evaluations can serve a useful purpose. Understanding one another’s characteristics and motivations can limit misunderstandings. Awareness of others’ communication preferences and frustrations can identify counterproductive approaches. Insight into the styles of others makes one a more effective communicator. All this builds a more comfortable and productive working environment, she said.

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