Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

A taste of TetraMap

By Kate Drew

Senior Consultant Kate Drew writes about Earth, Air, Water and Fire: TetraMap and using nature as a metaphor to understand personality preferences

I’ve always had an interest in the reasons behind an individual’s actions; why they act and react in certain ways. Why is it that some people gel and some people don’t? After a TetraMap facilitation course, I am closer to knowing those answers.

As a Project Manager, influencing people to take action and communication are two key activities for me. When I deliver a presentation, I like to give everyone in the room a good eyeball, constantly scanning them for signs that they are on my wave length and are interested by the content.

Sometimes I think, I’ve have absolutely nailed this presentation, and there’s still someone who doesn’t seem that engaged. I mean what is wrong with them? The presentation has pictures, facts, ideas, moving parts, a story; how could it be any better?! This is what keeps me engaged.

After becoming a certified TetraMap Facilitator, I have an appreciation that we are all different. To keep a group engaged, you need to consider all the different preferences it might include. Thankfully, achieving this is much easier than it sounds.

Spread over two and a half days, my TetraMap training started with a discussion about nature and its basic components: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. TetraMap uses these elements as metaphors underpinning personality preferences.

Earth like a mountain is FIRM. People with a high Earth preference are typically:

  • BOLD
  • FACTUAL
  • TIME & OUTCOME DRIVEN
  • STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

They may communicate in bullet points or gesticulate with firm hand movements. Individuals who overplay Earth may come across as blunt to others, although this is almost certainly not their intention. They just want to get things done and succeed.

Air like the wind is CLEAR. People with a high Air preference are typically:

  • Logic driven: will require evidence.
  • Detail driven: will want to see statistics and management information.
  • Orderly: focused and accurate.

They will generally want time to consider the supporting argument for doing something, who has done it before and what they have learnt. They are likely to get things right because they have taken the time to make sure it is done correctly.

Individuals who overplay Air can be seen by others as being critical and picky. This is not usually their intention; they just have a high attention to detail and want to get it right.

Water like a lake is CALM. People with a high Water preference are typically driven by emotion and can be recognised by their caring and consistent nature. They are likely to ask you how your weekend has been and take a genuine interest in your thoughts and opinions. When doing a piece of work, they value discussion and work well within teams.

People who overplay Water can come across as slightly hesitant. This is not their intention, they just want to make sure that everyone’s thoughts have been taken into account.

Fire like the sun is BRIGHT.

People with a high Fire preference are typically positive and fun. They can be loud, colourful and ambitious. Constantly having ideas, they inspire those around them.

People who over play Fire can sometimes be seen as disruptive, although this is not their intention. They are just excited!

The course teaches us that we are all of the above elements, but tend to see the world through two main preferences. My preferences are Earth and Fire. My personality is aligned to getting things done, so thankfully I am in the right job!

However, I now know that I could improve the buy-in I get from the people around me by dialling up both my Air and my Water preferences. This could be by including more supporting detail in my presentations, or by letting people know that I genuinely do value their opinion and input.

Stephen Covey summarised this point well: “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.”

I will take time to ask myself how my behaviour might be perceived by others. Is their perception my intention? My TetraMap experience has taught me how to flex my style to get my real intention across most effectively. I really can’t recommend it enough!

If you have found this interesting and are intrigued to learn more, check out www.tetramap.co.uk

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