Having been part of a board of directors who were spread over a wide geographical area, I could really appreciate this topic Susan Gerke and Linda Berens have addressed. In that group we came up with a number of similar suggestions given in the booklet: conference telephone calls, e-mails and a face-to-face meeting once a year. As a director it was important for me to be able to put a face to a voice. New directors were added each year at the end of our annual conference so we usually didn?t have an opportunity to get to know them or even speak to them before we left to go home. When working in a vacuum like this we found it hard carrying on with our duties without the person-to-person contact. To offset this we held monthly conference calls. The face-to-face meetings, although time consuming and expensive on the limited budget of the group, were very rewarding both in terms of what was accomplished and the feeling of being part of the group.
The booklet is based on the concepts of interaction styles that Linda Berens has developed. Interaction styles are the key link between temperament and the sixteen personality types. Temperament helps us understand motivation for behaviour, while personality types helps us understand the cognitive processes involved in our information gathering and decision making. Interaction styles help clarify the way we naturally relate to one another, and how we may need to modify our styles to suit the situation.
The booklet is mainly intended as a workshop handout. Those who have had previous experience with interaction styles would find the booklet very helpful even if a working remotely workshop was not available. The booklet does cover the concepts of interaction styles but Linda Berens previous booklet, Understanding Yourself and Others?An Introduction to Interaction Styles, would really be helpful if you were reading this booklet by itself.
The idea of working remotely is not new, but with the advances in technology and a world wide economy, it is a reality for more and more people. This booklet emphasises over and over how important it is to make the personalconnections if meaningful work is to be accomplished. The authors explore what working remotely means and how it impacts on people?s lives. They give an overview of interaction styles and look at each interaction style individually in terms of its strengths, advantages, challenges and pitfalls of working remotely, the opportunity for growth, tips on how to understand them, and how to support them.
The booklet then focuses on three key issues: building relationships, empowering others, and measuring performance. It looks at the needs of each of the interaction styles in terms of these three topics using the fundamental dynamics of interaction styles: initiating and responding, directing and informing, and control and movement.
There is a wealth of information in this booklet that unites the people part of the equation with the task completion part. Much of what is given could be considered common knowledge, but we often forget one or the other part. This booklet in using interaction styles gives it a solid theoretical basis, but does it in a very practical and enjoyable way. I would recommend this booklet as worthwhile even if you have not had any experience with interaction styles. It will likely whet your appetite to further explore this topic. And the booklet also sets out some very practical suggestions to deal with working remotely.
Jack Falt (Idealist, Authentic Blue, Chart-the-Course, INFJ, Ennea-9) leads an ongoing group in Ottawa called Appreciating Differences that studies temperament, interaction styles, cognitive processes, and the enneagram, applying them to a wide variety of topics. He was a former board director of OAAPT and writes many of the book reviews for their newsletter Tell~A~Type. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]