How 5 Shapes Can Help You Make Friends

How 5 Shapes Can Help You Make Friends

Making friends is easy for some people—not for me. I may be an extrovert but there are many people with whom I struggle to make conversation. I’m talking about interactions that, no matter how much the other person and I share in common, feel forced, are punctuated by awkward silences, or are just plain uncomfortable. Sound familiar?

Turns out our inability to jive with certain people may be out of our control, a function of incongruent personalities, attitudes, education, and/or past experiences. After all, it is the unique combination of these factors that make us who we are and that determine our biases. Each person can bring you a new perspective. You can improve your chances of getting along with them by understanding where it comes from and learning how they think.

The first step is understanding a person’s personality type, the most popular method of which is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. While it is appropriate and commonplace to use the Myers-Briggs in a work setting, it’s too expensive, too lengthy and overall impractical for making friends in a social setting. (Can you imagine pulling it out at happy hour? I didn’t think so.) Enter psycho-geometrics.

Psycho-geometrics is another—a quicker, simpler—analytical approach to narrowing down people’s decision-making, communication styles, and other traits based on their selection of one of five geometric shapes. My mentor Eric introduced me to the concept a few weeks ago and I can’t stop using it. (Ask anyone who’s met me recently. It’s become my most precious, potentially overused, “party trick”.)

Think fast! Do you prefer a box, a circle, a rectangle, a triangle or a squiggle? Write the first one that came to mind in the comments below. Once you’ve done that, check out this cheat sheet to each of the five shapes and what they represent. Did the characteristics listed for your shape hit home? What about the positive traits? The negative traits?

I picked the circle and, except for the claim that I am indecisive, its description was spot on. It has also been pretty accurate in categorizing my friends and colleagues. Most surprisingly, 100-percent of the engineers I know have picked the box (because “it’s so perfect,” claims my mechanical engineer sister Lucy).

It is important to remember that psycho-geometrics doesn’t paint a full picture of a person. I have my new friend Daniel and his skepticism about labels to thank for that reminder. He’s right—if you read through all the shapes, you’re bound to find traits in the ones you didn’t pick with which you can also identify. You should therefore only rely on psycho-geometrics loosely when making assumptions about others.

That said, asking a stranger to pick a shape is an excellent ice breaker. For me, it has opened the door to in-depth conversations at networking events, happy hours, and parties that I could only dream of having before. Most of these conversations have led to newfound friendships, proving no matter how you use it, psycho-geometrics is a great tool for making friends.

And now, for your quote of the day:

“You have to get along with people, but you also have to recognize that the strength of a team is different people with different perspectives and different personalities.” —Steve Case

Three Books You Need To Read This Summer

Three Books You Need To Read This Summer

As evidenced by my current commitment to read and apply the principles in Dale Carnegie’s How To Make Friends & Influence PeopleI’m really into books about human psychology and (*cringe*) self-help. It’s ironic because since I was a teenager, my mom has been trying to get me to read books in this genre. She probably gave me every version of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul which is not only a “thing” but also comes in four volumes. I was (and, as far as the Chicken Soup series, still am) completely uninterested in reading the books she gave me. They gathered dust for years before I moved out of my college dorm and donated them all to my local library.

I am unashamed at my newfound appreciation for this often dismissed category because there are hidden gems that are worthwhile and I’ve figured out how to mine them out. There are more than I could have ever imagined. In fact, my Amazon Prime account has been doing some heavy lifting the past few weeks, pleasantly surprising me with a new delivery at my door almost daily.

I started this post with the intention of sharing all of the books I’m currently excited about with you, but I feel overwhelmed with my too-long reading list and I want this to be fun, not give us anxiety. For that reason, I have narrowed down my book recommendations to my top three selections. I’m talking about the three books you need to read this summer, whether you’re tanning at the beach, lounging by the pool, or sipping your pre-work coffee.

I hope that you enjoy them as much as I think I am going to and that you’ll share your thoughts with me in the comments below or by engaging with me on Twitter. Please also share your must-read books of summer! Here are mine, in order of how excited I am about them:

  1. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. When I told my mentor Eric that I was reading Dale Carnegie, his eyes lit up for five seconds before he asked, “Have you read Who Moved My Cheese?” I can see why he recommended it. The book provides insight on dealing with change in your professional and personal life, teaching you how to reduce stress and find success despite circumstances you can’t control. This advice is key even if you don’t work in a politically-driven climate like me.
  2. How Risky Is It, Really? by David Ropeik. Surprisingly, my work in the environmental field is centered on the concept of risk. Take climate change, for example—addressing it is essentially an exercise in risk reduction whether you’re talking about mitigation or adaptation. I therefore want to understand how the human psyche perceives risk and why our fears don’t always match the facts. Beyond my job, it will help me understand why I freak out on airplanes, but have no hesitation about getting behind the wheel in the crash capital of the world.
  3. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. This pick was courtesy of my mom and I am just as shocked as you are that it made it onto this list. That said, its focus is very apropos for where I am in life. As I catapult into my 30s this September, I am undergoing paradigm shifts in personality and what I want out of life that are rocking me to my core. I am looking forward to Sheryl’s personal insight on recovering and rebounding in the face of hardships, big or small.

And now, for your quote of the day:

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” —Joseph Addison

Three Impactful Articles I Read This Week (And You Need To Read Too)

Three Impactful Articles I Read This Week (And You Need To Read Too)

I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. and scan the internets for insightful reads while I drink my coffee. Since my unexpected promotion in February to department director, I’ve kept a particularly watchful eye for articles with tips on leadership.  This week the search of the world wide web was particularly fruitful in that regard, yielding three impactful articles on how to be successful, how to lead, and how to manage:

  1. According to Oprah Winfrey, these are the 4 things you need to know to be successful. In one of the many graduation speeches Oprah Winfrey gave this May, she reminded us (and the graduating class of 2017) just how successful she is. This article on CNBC enumerates the four reasons she attributes to her success, including listening to her instincts, setting clear intentions, being grateful, and allowing the truth to set you free. If they worked for Oprah, they sure as hell work for me.
  2. What Sets Successful CEOs Apart. Being in charge comes with great power and great responsibility. This article from the Harvard Business Review details the four behaviors common to high-performing CEOs, including making decisions with speed and conviction and adjusting to a rapidly changing environment. It’s a good read for anyone in a leadership position.
  3. How Leaders Can Push Employees Without Stressing Them Out. Data shows that leaders are 30% less likely than their colleagues to feel stressed out, which the writer attributes to factors such as status, autonomy, and job security. So, how do you secure the greatest output of your employees without building their stress to the point of diminishing returns? This article shares five principles worth a try.

I hope you found the perspective and tips these articles offer as useful as I did. A huge thank you to my friends and colleagues who posted these articles on social media for me to find! Now for your quote of the day:

“…people who can take feedback well are people who can learn and grow quickly.” —Sheryl Sandberg