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Are You Relatable?

Feb 28, 2011

If I asked you, “How well do you think you relate to others?,” I would anticipate that most of you would say, “Well truthfully, I recognize that I relate to some better than others.” In reality, this is true of all of us. We just seem to “click” better with some people than we do with others. Why is that? The answer will be the subject of this month's article. Let me set you up for where I am going with a couple of other questions: ►If I could show you how to develop skills to relate well or more effectively to a greater number of people, do you believe your chances for success would increase? ►Would more or less doors of opportunity open up for you? While those may seem like rhetorical questions as you sit there and logically read this article, how to be more relatable is not something that most people spend much time thinking about. So let me pose the question that frames this article again?: “How ‘relatable’ are you?” If there is ever an industry where having good interpersonal relationship skills is important, it is the mortgage industry! While I'm sure it can be said of other industries as well, it certainly could be said of the mortgage industry that it is a relationship-driven business. A person’s ability to relate well to others has a direct correlation to their ability to succeed in this industry. The reason why “being more relatable” is so important in the mortgage business is the very the nature of what our industry is about … financing the biggest transaction of most every individual's life at least at that point in time. Whether you are dealing with a first-time homebuyer or an experienced homeowner, the transaction is the biggest financial transaction of their lives. Every Realtor and builder I know want only to trust their business to those individuals who have the greatest relationship skills. Having strong relationship skills trumps all the other important skills needed to be successful in the mortgage industry. I've heard it said that being successful in the mortgage industry is like being a successful guillotine operator … keeping your head when all others about you are losing theirs. In a perverse way, stress is one of those “binding emotions” that keep many of us in this sometimes crazy, frenetic industry for years. We all have plenty of stories to share to give testimony to this fact. However, those of us who and have the greatest ability to relate to others are the ones who seem to prosper the most and for the longest time in the mortgage business. So, how can you beat more relatable … that is, what the rest of this article is about. It is important to point out (and may be already obvious) that I am not a behavioral scientist or even a psychology major … not even close. The authority and experience by which I write this article and present the following suggestions is only this … I have and continue to enjoy more than 37 years in the mortgage industry and have discovered important keys and practical tools that have helped me relate and connect with more people than I thought possible. And now I have the privilege of helping many industry professionals like yourself relate and connect with a greater number of people than they ever thought possible and therefore significantly increase their potential for success. Becoming more relatable goes well beyond behavioral “mirroring” where someone merely matches, imitates or mimics another person’s external nature while involved in some level of social interaction. I hesitate using phrases like “developing strong interpersonal skills” which involves heuristics, because I find people getting stuck in a cerebral ditch and missing the more simplistic truths that are at the core of the keys that most of us instinctively and intuitively experientially know. We've all heard the expression, "that person speaks my language.” Another way of saying that is, “I really relate to what that person said.” Is it “what” that person said or a combination of what and “how” they said what they did that made them more relatable to you? When we start plumbing the depths of this, we are beginning to gain insights and understanding into what makes some “tic” … understanding how they are wired so to speak. Speaking someone's language goes way beyond “linguistics.” It is getting into something that is commonly referred to as “personality types” or “temperaments” and you don't need to have a psychology degree to be skilled at reading and responding to the various personality types/temperaments of which there are four. Nor do you have to do an extensive study into "temperament theory” and it’s “four humours” with its possible ancient Egyptian roots or the better known writings of the Greek physician Hippocrates. All you have to do is accept the well-understood notion that there are four basic personality types, the labels of which were established by Hippocrates. They are choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine. The following is a very basic description of each. ►The “choleric type” is goal-oriented, ambitious, very self-confident in what they believes the facts to be, wants info in bullets "short and to the point," can be a control freak … has a very dominate personality. Think of an army drill sergeant. ►The “melancholic type” is someone who is a more selfless, kind, tender-hearted, quieter, sensitive, takes on the causes of others and is more concerned about right and wrong. Think of a bleeding heart social worker type of person. ►The “phlegmatic type” is a person who thinks things through, is calm, unemotional, consistent/even temperament, rational, curious and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats. Think of an analytical accounting type of person. ►The “sanguine type” is someone who generally is light-hearted, fun loving, a people person, loves to entertain, spontaneous, confident and can be more selfish. They can lack focus and be impulsive. Think of cheerleader type of person. Let me add some “color” to these personality types and some additional ways for you to relate to each “type.” When I am teaching on this topic in my leadership seminars, I will play music in the background to help communicate my description for each of these personality types. When I use music, the attendees that are the Sanguine and Melancholic types find the music a creative and fun way to learn and generally say it was helpful, humorous and entertaining, and overall positive experience. However, for the attendees who are the Choleric and Phlegmatic types, they may find the music somewhat helpful, but are more tuned into the facts and logic. A serious Choleric type may just find the music “superfluous fluff” and tolerate it for the sake of the more emotional types. With me being a pure unadulterated Sanguine type, “this really floats my boat” and helps me more effectively relate what I am teaching to the attendees. I bring that up because, as you read further down, it is important that you know who YOU are and identify with others from that perspective but do so in a way that relates to the greatest number of people. Just in case you are interested, here’s a sampling of the music I use. What I have found is that the songs that relate to the greatest ages range are those timeless “oldie but goodie” songs, some of which have been wonderfully redone. Here they are … ►For the drill sergeant “choleric type” songs like Duke of Earl by Gene Chandler usually drives home the point. ►For the social worker “melancholic type” songs like Percy Faith’s “Theme From a Summer Place” gently sets the mood to describe this type of person. ►Then for the more logical “phlegmatic type,” the song, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon gets a good laugh. ►But then, for the party animal cheer leader “sanguine type,” songs like Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” or Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” gets everyone up and dancing around … well, at least the sanguine types do. I believe that a good number of you reading this article are saying to yourself, “There’s something to this … I believe it can help me.” And for others, you are saying to yourself, “You know what, I have heard this before, and I know I could increase my business by being more relatable.” I further believe that many reading this have a new or renewed desire to increase their ability to relate to more people. If that describes you, you will find yourself drawn back to this article. You will find yourself compelled to read and re-read it over and over. I believe you will find yourself studying, pondering and mulling it over in your mind how you can apply this knowledge and put it to practical use for yourself. So, let me help you get started. There is so much to learn about all this, and I would love to have the opportunity to teach it all to you, but for the sake of time and space, I would recommend you get started with the following actions steps. 1. First and foremost, identify which type of person best describes who you are. Discover and determine which of the four personality types best represents or describes you. Keep it simple. I am aware that to one degree or another, we all are “posers.” By that, I mean a fair percentage of the population “projects” a public persona that might be different from who they believe they really are privately. For the purpose of being professionally more relatable, it is important to identify the type of person you are in your professional/public life when dealing with others. If you struggle with this first step or if you find yourself confused because you identify with more than one personality type, then ask your family and/or friends for their input. Another method is to take a simple, sometimes free, online personality profile assessment. To select the one that's best for you, I would recommend doing a Google search for "Online Temperament Assessment.” Personally, the assessment that I recommend to my clients is the Birkman assessment which can be found at However, it is not cheap, but highly effective. I've taken every other kind of assessment that seems to exist and have had the greatest insights into who I am with the Birkman Method. 2. While studying who you are, also start considering the other three personality types. I recommend that you find others who either already know their personality type or share an interest in discovering/determining what their personality type is. Ideally, they would be willing to work with you as you begin to explore how to relate to them. Once you have identified at least one or two individuals that find their identity in one of the other personality types, spend some time getting to know them and finding out what makes them tick. Make a list of the things that draws them to others and get specific. Even more importantly, find out what repels them from wanting to do business with someone. Begin to discover ways in which you can get beyond yourself to relate to this person without losing sight of who you are. 3. Begin to write scripts for yourself to follow when interacting with and relating to each of the other personality types. Begin to discipline yourself to follow those scripts while interacting with those of the various personality groups. Ask for feedback as you begin to try and relate. Identify key words that are “reactors” that stir people up in a negative way and may even cause for some toxic feelings to rise and cause them to retract from engaging in conversation with you. There are numerous examples I use in my seminars that I would love to share with you, but time and space simply do not allow. If you will begin to study the matrix shown previously in this article, albeit very basic, it will serve as a great starter to get you down the path to being more relatable and making more money in 2011. David Lykken is president of mortgage strategies and managing partner with Mortgage Banking Solutions. He has more than 35 years of industry experience and has garnered a national reputation, and has become a frequent guest on FOX Business News with Neil Cavuto, Stuart Varney, Liz Claman and Dave Asman with additional guest appearances on the CBS Evening News, Bloomberg TV and radio. He may be reached by phone at (512) 977-9900, ext. 101 or e-mail [email protected].
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