Utilizing The Birkman Method To Customize Your Life
The Birkman Method is extremely valuable to have during every transformative phase in your life that is yet to come–especially in pivotal times when you need to re-focus on yourself. Whether you are a high school student headed to college, an employee getting promoted to a leadership position, or even getting married, it's critical to understand your Interests, work style, communication style, Needs, and stressors.
Birkman is an invaluable resource when reflecting on who you are, what you like to do, what you need, and your strengths. All of this is to say that as the holidays approach, relationships can flourish or falter when getting together with people. Prepping for relating to others during normal, happy, or stressful times requires self-awareness and self-acceptance.
It Starts With Self-Acceptance
To be the best version of yourself, you actually need to understand yourself. My Great Aunt Sarah used to tell us, “remember who you are,” whenever she took my siblings somewhere. What I realize now is that she meant don’t embarrass me. But this phrase in that context was flawed.
Imagine if I lived my life to solely meet the expectations of my old-fashioned, prim and proper great aunt (whom I loved dearly, by the way!)? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with prim and proper or with being old-fashioned. But there is something wrong with striving to fit everyone else’s image of you, except for you!
The first step in addressing who you are is self-acceptance. As Birkman states, "self-perception reveals how we see ourselves and drives much of how we show up in the world around us. It’s driven largely by how we have learned to use certain styles to get positive results in past situations. We report this as Usual Behavior, and what is measured on the assessment is typically how a person feels when they approach tasks, manage relationships, and contribute to their community."
It's critical to be self-aware by knowing your strengths and weaknesses, expectations and preferences, and your perceptions of yourself and others around you. But in the end, it's even more critical to accept yourself as who you are. You are unique. You are you.
Improve Your Relationships
When it comes to relationships, Birkman is a great resource for living peacefully and successfully with others. We’ve all felt cooped up at one point or another when living with a roommate, spouse, or other family members. It’s important to keep amicable relationships. That may not sound easy if you’re feeling frustrated. The very organized people could benefit from relaxing a bit. Allow things to get a little messy. On the other hand, messy people can put in extra effort to be a little tidier.
Everyone needs to work together to meet in the middle. No one in the situation is inherently bad or wrong. But we are all unique and different. And this goes for work relationships too. Are you putting a lot of thought into your decisions at work, but your coworker is too decisive? Sit down with each other to really understand one another's point of view. What are the strengths of your coworker's mindset? Why do you both have different ways to process information or find solutions?
We can’t control others. However, we can make adjustments to ourselves to improve our relationships.
Revisit Your Birkman Data and Reassess Your Needs
There is a lot to unpack when reviewing your Birkman assessment results. Revisiting your data is useful during times of change, moving to the next chapter of your life, or when challenged with relationships—both professional and personal.
Remind yourself of your Needs—what you need from other people and your environment to be satisfied and engaged. Ask yourself if they are being met. If they are not, figure out why so you can recharge, get motivated, and avoid the stress that a big life event might bring. Your Needs are what needs to be met in order for you to be fulfilled and engaged.
Is it that you need to better understand your Interests? There's a report for that. Or how about handling commitment? Or handling conflict? Birkman also has a report for those.
I encourage you to revisit your Birkman data. Refamiliarize yourself with the how's and whys of yourself. Find activities or hobbies that align with your strengths. Rather than just playing video games in your downtime, you can use this time to explore where your strengths could lead you in life.
Have others been catering to your Needs? Are they aware of Your Needs? If not, discuss ways that you can work together with others in your personal and professional life so that your needs are being met. The better aware you are of your own Needs, the more likely you will be able to communicate them to others. Since our Needs are hidden, it is our responsibility to make sure that they are being met.
The Birkman Method has a time and place for all chapters of your life, whether professional or personal. The more self-awareness we acquire, the more likely we are to find ourselves better communicating with ourselves and others. With Birkman, there is no such thing as good or bad behavior; Birkman wants to empower individuals to hone in on their strengths, grow from their weaknesses, and increase their wellbeing.
About the Author | Dr. Beth Dennard
Dr. Beth Dennard is the founder and director of Bright Futures Consulting. Over the span of 40 years, she worked in public relations in the US Air Force, served as an Admission Officer for the Air Force Academy, and was the Director of College Guidance for two private schools in the Houston area. She started Bright Futures to combine her extensive knowledge and experience with the skills of an expertly curated team to mentor students towards their bright futures. Dr. Dennard earned her Doctorate in Education ( Ed.D.) from the University of Houston and her MA in Counseling.