We Love Their Charisma and Inspiration — and Need to Keep Them from Wasting Us when Stressed Out

At the PR agency where I worked in Minneapolis, everyone wanted to be on Marilyn’s team. She was sharp. She was funny. And she went out of her way to support her people.

Every Thursday night, she’d go to dinner and invite anyone who could to join her. We’d laugh, bitch about annoyances and have a great time.

When Marilyn took a job in Chicago, we were sorry to see her go. Imagine my delight when, a few years later, she invited me to move there and work at a corporate communication agency she was opening. I packed up my life and went. In January.

Going from Heaven to Hell

The first seven months were great! I learned a lot from Marilyn about communication audits. We did focus groups, surveys and interviews to figure out how information flowed — and didn’t — in an organization. We’d analyze the data and come back with a plan to improve communication there.

Then it came to a screeching halt. Marilyn’s male partner sexually harassed me, and I told her about it. The partner was dismissed. But Marilyn began to hint that this disruption in our “happy family” was my fault.

Now she was short with and dismissive of me. She’d ask me to do tasks at the last minute and late in the day. It was clear that she was trying to make me miserable enough to quit.

When that didn’t happen fast enough, she gave me two weeks notice and told me I would have to work each of those days to get paid. When I told her I was filing for unemployment, she grew incensed, hollering that she would have to pay for part of this and how ungrateful I was.

Here’s more about expressives and how they react under fire.

They aren’t called expressives for nothing! When under stress, their reactions can seem over the top to people with other styles:

  • Enthusiasm comes across as being frantic, hasty or indiscreet
  • Being demonstrative shows up as playing favorites
  • Not getting enough positive regard from others often appears as over-complimenting themselves and scapegoating

Use the tactics in the video to help expressives avoid their biggest fear: of not being valued for their contributions. And if you’re an expressive:

  1. Know that others can read your characteristic of being late (because you’re not a detail person) as disrespect — and may not wait for you
  2. Appreciate that change can frighten people, and it may take them a while to share your enthusiasm for it
  3. Understand that others also need compliments and recognition, so spread that around if you want to get more back — and don’t punish them for not being in tune with your needs

Want a refresher on how to work with the other three styles:

  • “Drivers” in overdrive? Click here.
  • “Amiables” who are smoldering? Click here.
  • “Analyzers” overwhelming you with information? Click here.

Know who you are, whom you’re working with, and what they want and fear. Treat them according to their style, not yours. That makes you a leader worth following.