Tips for Working with Stabilizers 7

Tips for Working with Stabilizers

Stabilizers are the most one-on-one relationship-oriented of the 4 Behavior Styles

Stabilizers Bring Harmony and Inclusion

They prefer to work with and alongside others in order to achieve results or exert influence. In other words, Stabilizers employ warmth and cooperation in order to get things done and will usually seek suggestions from others before making a weighty decision. They work to build a sense of teamwork within an organization and will focus their efforts toward reducing conflict between team members. Loyalty and the pursuit of harmony are their trademarks.

Belonging and being part of a group are very important to Stabilizers, which is why family, friends, and close relationships are such a high priority for them. They may be conflict-avoidant and acquiescing, but they will become highly assertive if you cross or threaten their loved ones, close friends, or team members. 

They seek security and will work hard to preserve harmony. One of the ways this is manifested is in the extra time they will often give to meet the goal or request…and not draw attention to this effort.

Stabilizers are systematic and thorough in working with people and tasks, which can sometimes frustrate those who perceive Stabilizers as too slow to act. However, due to their persistence and dependability, they are frequently the “glue” that holds tasks and teams together. 

In reviewing the following tips, it’s easy to see why the Stabilizers in your life occasionally appear to struggle under pressure, seem overly submissive, or worry too much about other people’s feelings. 

Although reluctant to take risks and slow to change at times, they are friendly, easy to work with, always conscious of what’s going on with other people, reliable, and they excel as active listeners. 

[Want to know what your Behavior Style is? Take our Behavior Style assessment.]

Do’s

Establish a comfortable rapport first. They want to know you and have confidence that you’re an emotionally safe person. If they perceive you are not, they are going to be far less likely to engage with you—or work together.

Take the time to understand and support their personal goals. Not just intellectually, but in a personal way. That will go far in building their trust, which brings with it their loyalty toward you and your goals. 

Help them feel comfortable around you. They are harmonious creatures. If they deem you a person who brings instability, chaos, or confrontation into their lives, they will find a way to avoid you while still helping out the team. 

Ask questions to get them to share their opinions. They aren’t initiators by nature and tend to ask many questions. Gently invite them to share their thoughts and their observant minds will surprise you with insights—especially those regarding the social-emotional life of your team. 

Explain the benefits of their action or decision. They’re often looking for what they can do to help. If you can bring to their attention how a project or task will benefit others, then a course of action becomes much clearer to them. 

Acknowledge their individual contributions and efforts. Given how supportive they are of others, it’s deeply gratifying for them to have people express appreciation for all they do to hold the center and keep the team’s efforts unified. One word of caution: don’t draw too much public attention to them—they don’t like to be in the spotlight.  

Be open and show that you are interested in them personally. Relationships are primary, so if they don’t feel seen or understood by you, you’re going to find working with them is a challenge for what appears to be indiscernible reasons. 

Ask for their feedback and feelings on the issues that you discuss. Check in with them regularly. They lead with an attentive heart, tending to focus more on emotions than their “above midline” counterparts, Analyzers and Controllers

Show them how they can minimize risks. They prize stability and security, so offering a way forward that avoids precarious situations will tap into their strengths. 

Be patient with them. They want to make sure they maintain harmony and provide what others need so demanding faster action minimizes their ability to utilize their other behavioral strengths. 

[Read “You Are Not Your Behavior Style”]

Don’ts

Try to manipulate or overpower them. They’ll likely acquiesce, to a certain degree, but this will turn into resentment and breed distrust. 

Move straight to business or rush the main issues. They want to be sure all people involved are comfortable and “seen” before a task can be tackled. If action is rushed, this could create chaos or tension—threats which will garner their attention rather than the original task at hand. 

Expect them to agree with you just because they do not oppose you. Non-confrontational by nature, their silence doesn’t necessarily mean agreement. 

Expect an immediate response from them. They are systematic thinkers. They need time to consider every potential impact of their words and their actions—particularly the effect they’ll have on people (including customers and colleagues). 

Argue or create conflict. Ask questions when you disagree. Instead of turning disagreements into debates or a winner-takes-all sparring match, keep the discussion conversational and explorative. 

Lose their support by making too many decisions for them. More expeditious Behavior Styles, like Persuaders and Controllers, will be tempted to overstep decision-making boundaries. This will betray their ability to trust you, and could lead them to withdraw their support for future endeavors.

Offer assurances or make commitments that cannot be supported. They are loyal (sometimes to a fault) and expect the same from others. Also they may not mention when you do not keep a commitment but they will remember it. 

Expect them to make quick decisions. The potential fallout from hastily made choices holds a lot of downside for them. 

Leave them without reassurance that what you’re asking for supports the goal. Stabilizers understand that others are likely acting according to the goal and they want to ensure your efforts are contributing to it as well. Nobody gets left behind. 

[More detailed Behavior Styles Quick Reference Cards are available here.]

George is President and CEO at Effectiveness Institute. With 30 years of experience in leadership development and organizational management, he has helped organizations reach higher levels of performance in industries that include technology, finance, legal, academia, healthcare, automotive, aviation, and service.

He is an avid reader and musician who loves hiking around the PNW.

Jeffrey serves as Communications and Marketing Director at Effectiveness Institute. He is also Editor in Chief of Erraticus, an online publication focused on human flourishing.

He is a former mental health professional and educator living in Cascadia.

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