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Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

How TetraMap gave me a good dose of self-awareness

By Nuala Ryan

Communications and marketing specialist (and planning ninja) Nuala Ryan talks about TetraMap, self-awareness and how to communicate more effectively.

I love a good list (weekly list and daily list, anyone?). I love a good plan (the 2018 diary is already well underway). I like to-the-point emails with unfussy salutations. I love clarity and to know who’s doing what and when.

But, bowl me a “have you got 20 minutes to have a quick brainstorm on this” and suddenly I’m in panic mode. You mean 20 minutes now? As in right now? You mean a brainstorm where I have to think on my feet? Taxi for one please, pronto.

All this is typical of those of us who have a high air / earth preference according to TetraMap, a behavioural tool that uses four natural ‘elements’ – earth, air, water and fire – to explain human behaviour.

Like most of my colleagues, I have completed a TetraMap facilitation certification course thanks to a two-day workshop run by my colleague, Stuart Bailey.

Given I love a good list, here are the key things the workshop taught me:

  • We each have all four elements. Unlike other behavioural models, TetraMap isn’t binary. Each of us has all four elements, but we have tendencies (or preferences) for certain elements over others. This is important as it doesn’t box us in as one thing or another. Instead, we can take confidence that we have the capacity to flex our behaviour by dialling-up our lower preferences when needed.
  • Under stress we may overplay our preferences. With my newfound insight into my air preference, I could see times when I’d done this. For example, just a few weeks ago on my first day back from maternity leave I pushed my team mates into defining every detail of our job roles. Was this necessary for day one? Probably not, but first day nerves got to me and I overplayed my air preference, becoming picky and unable to see the bigger picture. Understanding why we react in certain ways when pressure gets to us means we can moderate our behaviour before it has a negative impact on others. In fact, I feel enlightened that behaviour I’d previously been unable to explain can now be so easily rationalised.
  • We judge ourselves by our intention and others by their behaviour. In the above example, my intention was to create clarity and order, but my behaviour could have been seen as picky and irritating (thankfully I have forgiving colleagues).

TetraMap gives you a huge dose of self-awareness, but also insight into what those with different preferences intend by their actions.

The colleague who replies with one-word emails; a response you’d always taken as rudeness? No, as someone with a high earth preference, she only meant to be efficient (why waste time with greetings and sign offs).

The colleague who wants to discuss things with everyone before making a decision, which you’d always seen as time wasting? No, as someone with a high water preference, he only meant to collaborate.

As well as these insights, what the workshop left me with was the sense of opportunity:

  • opportunity for organisations to create insightful, powerful team;
  • opportunity to take simple steps to moderate negative behaviours; and
  • the personal opportunity to dial down the detail for those who don’t want it and to dial up my spontaneity for those who do.

Twenty minutes for a quick brainstorm, anyone?

Curium in the News