Reading the report from one’s own Highlands Ability Battery test is rather like going to see an exceptional fortune teller at a fair and being impressed by their magical ability. Of course there is no magic in it. If they are good, they can read non-verbal cues, drop open ended suggestions and capitalise on the answers before giving you a vague idea of where your life is taking you. The Highlands Ability Battery test does so much more. While you are busy, following instructions and completing tasks it is scoring you on all kinds of aspects of your abilities.
Most fascinating is the communication style. I read the section on communication style and realised that it was absolutely spot-on.
Here are a few examples of communication style from the Highlands Ability Battery:
- Specialists tend to use language that’s the same as only 20% of the population. They are likely to use words that are specific to their field. They like to be seen as the people to go to for information so their information will be valuable, but not necessarily phrased the same way a generalist would speak
- Generalists often like to operate on the basis of consensus. Their communication is likely to be more consultative in nature and they will seek input from others
- Those high on the Concept Organisation (deductive reasoning) scale will want to be sure everyone is aware of every step in a process
- But those who are high on the Classification (inductive reasoning) scale will find the thoroughness of the high Concept Organisation style a bit slow and may feel impatient. They have a tendency to leap over some of the steps when the can see the conclusion so clearly, making the assumption that everyone else knows what has to happen to get there.
Based on my scores, I can relate to all of these factors. As a midpoint Specialist/Generalist I get to see both points of view, which means I would be a good mediator or facilitator. However, my high Classification score means I want to leap up and interrupt anyone who is rambling on, so mediation is probably out of the question.
At the same time, I score high in Concept Organisation. It’s like having a personality disorder where one side of you is impatient because the other side of you is going through something step by step. Of course it is not that simple, but sometimes all of these communication styles go to war with each other in hilariously disastrous ways.
When my eldest daughter was about 10 years old, that age where parents become the most embarrassing beings on the planet, she decided to have a pottery painting party for her birthday. I leaped into the organisation with enthusiasm and sent out invitations with the heading “Go potty with me!” in an impossible-to-miss typeface. I thought it was a clever play on words, combining the activity with the idea that guests could have a crazy time at this party. The invitations went out to all her friends in the small American town in which we were living and I moved on with other aspects of the event. It was only when my American neighbour called me and tentatively asked: “What do you mean by ‘go potty’?” and the words were articulated in her accent, that I realised with horror that I had invited my daughter’s friends to come and have a lavatorial experience with her. The only way to rectify the situation was to invite my daughter to tell her friends that her mother was a crazy foreigner who mangled English.
This became my best lesson in curbing my tendency to jump in with both feet. Taking time to think about what one is saying, especially anything that is going out in public is an excellent practice to adopt. Bouncing a “great idea” off someone who has a different style (or culture) is also a good way to go about it.
There are more factors that have an effect on communication style, but these few should give you a feel for why it’s so important to understand how others hear what you’re saying and avoid disastrous miscommunications. One of the greatest advantages of using the Highlands Ability Battery to find out your pattern of abilities is understanding how you’re different from others and what impact that has.
Differences should be celebrated – they’re what make the world as interesting as it is. But it does help to know what those differences are.