It is what it is.

That phrase is used a lot in my workplace.

It's one of those silly work sayings that means nothing until you're in work, and then it means everything. Just like:

  • Let's touch base.
  • Let's take that offline.
  • We really need more of a helicopter view.
  • Let's focus on the low hanging fruit.
  • We can get back together once we've got all our ducks in a row.

But I like saying that it is what it is. It makes me feel better when making a decision that brings a down-side with it.

  • Getting someone in to look at our oven costs a lot? It is what it is.
  • Taking a Thursday off to help at Crafternoon leads to an extremely busy Friday? It is what it is.
  • Grocery delivery ran out of bread? It is what it is.

But for Anna - my wife - the phrase is more than a touch ridiculous.

Of course it is what it is! What else would it be?!

But sometimes putting language around something can help to define it, and help us to understand it.

This is particularly important when it comes to relating to people. People are all unique, but using language to describe common features can be helpful in understanding why some people are so unique!

So allow me to categorise everyone in the whole world, using a model developed by Roger Reid and John Merrill.

Begin by thinking about whether you prefer to talk or listen, and whether you prefer to deal with people or facts.

  • Talking + people: Expressive. You enjoy being centre of attention, laughing a lot, and team games. Pictures on slides are much more fun than words, and the only good thing about spreadsheets is making pretty graphs that tell a story. People may perceive you as being flippant.
  • Talking + facts: Directive. The motto you give your people is ‘Be brief, be bright, be gone.’ You like to look at the big facts, tell people what you think, and expect them to act on it. You’re ambitious, and people can sometimes perceive you as being arrogant.
  • Listening + people: Amiable. You don’t like being put under lots of pressure at work, but can be a dependable part of any team. You prefer stability over change. You’re the person who likes to get to know their colleagues at a personal level. Everyone who meets you thinks you’re nice…but perhaps the perception is that you’re not quite motivated enough.
  • Listening + facts: Analytical. You’re a details guru. Your strength isn’t in thinking on your feet, but give you five minutes with a spreadsheet and you’ll pick flaws in anyone’s idea. Some people perceive you as being socially awkward.

Don't worry if you don't like being categorised like this, that's because you're Analytical. (Jokes.)

I find this model really helpful, but there's something I've found even more helpful when dealing with people.

Just be friendly.

I've discovered that the secret to getting on with anyone is just to be friendly - everyone likes that!

I'm sorry, but it is what it is.

And I have the perfect offer to make you, to allow you to be friendly.

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