How Well Do You Know Your Siblings? Better Yet, How Well Do You Know Yourself?


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There are only five senses, but countless ways of seeing things. “Personality Differences” often cause conflict in the division process of an estate settlement. Without understanding these differences, the process of keeping the peace and avoiding conflict will be much more difficult.

From the book Positive Personality Profiles by Dr. Robert Rohm, there are four basic personality styles. Each style sees the world differently. Each style has both great strengths and several weaknesses. No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, every personality is really a blend of all four styles. Using the model of human behavior, there are two questions to ask about yourself or anyone you want to better understand:

1. Which are you more like: A. Outgoing or B. Reserved

2. Which are you more interested in: A. People or B. Tasks

Outgoing/Task-Oriented: “D” personality style (Dominant Style). Basic traits are Dominant, Demanding, Direct, Determined, Decisive, Doer, Dictatorial, Dogmatic, Diligent, Dynamic and Defiant. They are goal-oriented, performance conscious, hard to please, self-confident, firm and industrious. They don’t like indecision, slow people, talkers who don’t produce, laziness, detailed activities, taking orders. Tips for communicating with “D” personality types are: Think in terms of “What” questions. Get to the main point. Focus on action-based results. Be brief and specific. Be confident. Overcome obstacles. Provide challenge rather than give orders.

Outgoing/People-Oriented: “I” personality style (Inspiring Style). Basic traits are Inspirational, Influencing, Inducing, Impressive, Interesting, Impressionable, Interested in people, Imaginative, Impulsive, and Illogical. They are fun to watch, great starters/poor finishers, likable, prone to exaggerate, and easily excitable. They don’t like being ignored, being isolated, being ridiculed, repetitive tasks, detail work or long-term projects. Tips for communicating with “I” personality types are: Think in terms of “Who” questions. Let them express their ideas. Keep a friendly environment. Turn talk to action. Focus on their accomplishments. Provide compliments. Gently steer them back to business.

Reserved/People-Oriented: “S” personality style (Supportive Style). Basic traits are Steady, Stable, Secure, Supportive, Servant’s Heart, Sweet, Submissive, Shy, Status-quo, Sentimental, Save everything, and Sameness. They are viewed as the sweetest people in the world. But, they are easily manipulated. They are loyal friends and team players. Although they are poor starters, they are great finishers. They don’t like insensitivity, to be yelled at, misunderstandings, sarcasm, surprises, or being pushed. Tips for communicating with the “S” personality type are: Think in terms of “How” questions. Be agreeable and non-threatening. Give them time to adjust to changes. Show appreciation. Provide follow-up support. Talk more slowly during stress – do not rush the conversation. Demonstrate sincerity.

Reserved/Task-Oriented: “C” personality style (Cautious Style). Basic traits are Competent, Cognitive, Cautious, Careful, Calculating, Critical thinking, Compliance wanting, Conscientious, Correct, Consistent Conformist, and Cold. They are perfectionists, difficult to satisfy, logical, meticulous, self-sacrificing, and inquisitive. They don’t like mistakes, sudden changes, shoddy work, lack of preparation, unnecessary interruptions, or being criticized. Tips for communicating with the “C” personality style are: Think in terms of “Why” questions. Be specific on points of agreement. Avoid emotionalism. Check your facts. Show a “pro and con” balance sheet. Show how they fit in. Provide proof. Patiently welcome questions.

Although every person is a unique creation, knowing the personality style of the people involved in an estate settlement will generally give clues as to how each person thinks and therefore how conflicts may be reduced. Each style sees the world in a different way. For example:

“D’s” move quickly and make decisions quickly. They are impatient, and they will probably want to “boss” the process. They have a potential to “run-over” others, and unless they are aware and careful, they may hurt the feelings of others. However, “D’s” are the style least likely to hold a grudge after all is finished – no matter what happens.

“I’s” are impatient, easily distracted, and easily bored. They like to talk about the work to be done but frequently do not show up for the chores involved in the estate settlement process. They may agree to something and then not follow through. Other heirs may be upset, because they do not feel that the “I” has done his or her part.

“S’s” are easygoing and hate conflict. “S’s” will generally agree to do more than their share, and other heirs may try to take advantage of them. Their spouse may be anxious to make sure that they get their fair share. In addition, “S’s” will probably be the most sentimental heirs.

“C’s” are organized and perfectionistic. They will generally be critical of how others handle things. They want things done the “right” way. Many times their idea of the “right” way conflicts with the “right” way ideas of others. “C’s” may want the process to go slower than other heirs.

A knowledge of personality styles can help you to understand other heirs more fully and to see potential problems before they arise. Some people tend to assume other family members view the world the same as they do, and thereby hurt feelings of others without knowing they have done so. Others are sensitive about issues that some don’t even realize exist. As a result, they keep quiet in order to “Keep the peace. ” A simple explanation of their feelings would redirect the process and prevent resentment from surfacing later. Even a basic understanding of personality styles and an understanding of the factors that pertain to each would make a tremendous difference in how people deal with these issues. Perhaps Robert Rohm explains this best himself: “If I understand you and you understand me, doesn’t it stand to reason that we will be in a position to have a better relationship?”

Angie Epting Morris grew up in Athens, GA. She remembers hearing stories from her father, an attorney, about how families interacted when dividing furniture and personal property of the deceased. Faced with settling the estate of her parents, she became her own story, with a happy ending. While settling the estate, Angie and her siblings became better friends. After ten years of helping others do the same and receiving stories of praise and gratitude for the enlightening advice, she concluded that their system would help many others facing similar circumstances. Angie is considered an expert on how to keep peace and avoid conflict during the division process of an estate settlement. Foreword to her book was written by Judge Griffin Bell, former U. S. Attorney General. Angie speaks and conducts workshops. She also works with professionals (Attorneys, Estate & Financial Planners, CPAs, and Insurance Companies, etc. ) For more info visit: This article may be reprinted provided no part thereof is edited in any way and this resource box is included.


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