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The Sideline Blog

Just as sports players come to the sideline for rest and guidance, this blog is meant to provide you some insight and guidance as you explore your Strengths journey.

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, and the 34 theme names of CliftonStrengths® are 
trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Writer's pictureChad T. Ahern

The Thoughtful Talents Show: Relator®

(You can also watch on YouTube.)


In this episode, Jen and I welcome two fellow e2Grow coaches, Damian Zikakis and Michael Stafford, to discuss the Relator® talent theme. Damian (Relator, #1) and Michael (Relator, #4) share insights into how their Relator® talents have helped them build deep and meaningful relationships with others. Here are a couple key highlights from our conversation:

  • [8:56] Michael serves up a reminder for those with Relator talents that we need to consider, "Is the relationship for my benefit, or theirs?"

  • [17:04] Damian talks "mama/papa bear tendencies"

  • [39:30] We explore the variation between Relator-talented individuals preferences for "wide circles" vs. "tight cliques."

  • [44:55] Some cool Relator-focused imagery -- including angel wings, and a barn raising.

  • [48:14] We start exploring how those with Relator talents can help or hinder a team -- as a leader and an individual contributor.

Connect with my co-host, Jen Werner via her website, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Learn more about Damian via his website or LinkedIn.

Learn more about Michael vis his website or LinkedIn.



Jen Werner 00:03

Hi, and welcome to another episode of The Thoughtful Talent Show. I'm Jen Werner with Jen Werner Coaching,

Chad Ahern 00:09

...and I'm Chad Ahern with Talent and Teams Consulting.

Jen Werner 00:17

Today, we're really excited. We're going to be talking about the CliftonStrengths talent theme of Relator. So with us our two coaches that we've invited. So we want to like jump right in, let's talk with Michael. First, I met Michael, as he's a fellow E2Grow certified coach. So Michael, and I met actually through our certification process with E2Grow. Michael, do you want to tell us some about you and your passions?

Michael Stafford 00:50

Yes, Jen. Thank you. Lovely to see you again. And thanks for inviting me on. So my passions, well, living, I suppose one of my big passions is really helping people to live their best life, I feel that sometimes we get into automatic robot mode and just get on with things and so on. But just taking a step back and going, where is it that we want to focus on I feel as a coach, I'm very privileged to be in that environment with people and trusted to go on that journey with them. So that's a big passion of mine. Personally, then, also, you know, living by the beach now and my dog for gifts, and yeah, so just Yeah, that's what I'll do for now.

Jen Werner 01:37

Awesome, thank you.

Chad Ahern 01:39

And I get the privilege of introducing Damian. Damian has actually been on the show before, but for those of you who have not seen our other episode with him, I'm going to mention that Damian is an ICF, certified Gallup certified strengths coach, a fellow e2Grow coaches, Jen mentioned, and recently picked up the cool new title of a TED Fellows coach. So we're thrilled to have him here. Damian, has shared before that he focuses on providing strengths based workshops, and doing executive coaching. You also have a long standing history in the career coaching environment. But I'm wondering if there's anything else, like Michael, if there's anything else you want to either add to that bio, or maybe mention a side passion of yours before we get into the topic of the day?

Damian Zikakis 02:34

All right, well, thanks. So like, Michael, I would say what, what drives or motivates me is that same thing, wanting to help people. And that's took me a little while to figure that out. But you know, probably about 20 years ago, I figured out that's what really I wanted to do. And then it took me a while to figure out how to do that. So I've been doing coaching now, probably for about 15 years, and a lot of absolutely love it. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for making the time to come join us today.

Jen Werner 03:04

So with that, we wanted to really jump right into our topic of discussion today. Relator. So this is my number eight theme, Chad, what is it for you?

Chad Ahern 03:15

Mine is 13. So I'm definitely going to be learning a lot and probably not contributing quite as much to this conversation. I really want to hear from from Michael and David, who really live out this theme in their top five.

Jen Werner 03:30

Absolutely. So Chad and I are going to take a step back. And this episode, we're going to be the host and provide some some questions to our wonderful guests today. But let's start Chad...can you give us the short description from Gallup about the Clifton Strengths of theme of Relator?

Chad Ahern 03:46

Sure, so Gallup defines describes the Relator theme as follows "people exceptionally talented in the Relator theme enjoyed close relationships with others, they find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal."

Jen Werner 04:07

Awesome. So I want to start off with both of you being able to share with us and our audience. Really how this theme shows up for you. Personally, I want to start with you telling me we're going to start with Damian because Damian I think this is your number one talent. Is that Is that true? All right, great. So I want to start with Damian and please just, you know, share with our audience how this shows up for you personally, and maybe how it plays out in your life.

Damian Zikakis 04:35

You bet. So it is my number one theme, and it's it's one that in hindsight, I see has come out throughout my life. And one that since since going through Gallup training I've really focused on strengthening or developing from a raw to a more mature talent. A theme, and it's, for me, it's that it's it's a great example of how our themes are the things that we we naturally do without thinking about it. And I think it's really helped me in my coaching practice. And even before, before I got into coaching, I was doing career services work. And before that I was an executive recruiter. And it really came out there, because I really would, I found I could partner with my clients, and I could partner with the candidates, and develop relationships. They weren't necessarily long term relationships, but but we went deep, fast, and very easily for me. And so that's, that's how it shows up for me being able to go deep and fast with a few people to accomplish a goal.

Jen Werner 05:47

Great, those are great insights. Michael, do you want to share with us where this falls for you? And then how it shows up for you personally?

Michael Stafford 05:55

Yeah, no problem at all. So it's number four for me. And and I would say, just like Damian, I think it's the ability to have conversations with people and a desire and a need and want to have conversations with people that mean more than just superficial chitchat. So if, if I, if I was to kind of relate to how it's related how it relates to me, I would, I would probably say, if you think about it, in terms of conversations that I would even have with clients, I'll ask them to talk to me on that level of, you know, maybe something that they've never expressed or told somebody in this safe space that you really want to get out in the open. And that's as a way of building trust. I think trust is so important for me as a relator. And, you know, this, this team of, when you're in my circle, you're in my circle, and I will defend you to the very last, once you're in my circle. And I think getting into that circle can be sometimes difficult for people as well.

Jen Werner 07:04

Sure. Oh, that's awesome. I love hearing these insights from both of you. So let's talk a little bit about how these how these themes maybe when raw, Damian, you express some of that, like changing it from a raw talent to a mature talent, maybe some of the maybe more raw or potentially maybe even overused, you know, versions of the talent? How would this might have some have had some negative impacts on your life?

Damian Zikakis 07:34

Yeah. So one that comes to mind is is I similar to Michael describe that I like to ask questions, I like to really get them to know somebody and not at a deeper level, not a superficial level. And in its raw state, I'm paying more attention to my need, than their need. And so I reveal, so I've been given feedback before, by a trusted colleague, that I go too deep, too fast for some people. So I'll share things from my personal life, that what she said was, you can, you can make people uncomfortable by sharing too much too fast. And that never occurred to me, because we see the world through the lens of our own strength. Right, right. And so that was a real eye opener for me to like, tap, tap the brakes a little bit, and gauge what their reaction is, as I'm sharing about myself. And, and that sharing is really with the intent of getting them to trust me, and to open up to me. And it never occurred to me that it can be off putting to people.

Jen Werner 08:49

So you can get add how this shows up for you.

Michael Stafford 08:53

Yeah, nodding, nodding while I'm agreeing with Damien. And then I'm also thinking of another story, which I'm, so I'll share the other story. First of all, and and say, when it shows up in its raw format, for me, I can be quite needy, of relationships, and the need to try and it's a very rare thing that a relationship for me as a relator would fall by the wayside or, you know, there was something would happen that the friendship or relationship would be impacted in a way negatively. When it does happen. I tried to fix that. And that's the raw mode of where I'm actually focusing more on the need to connect as opposed to whether it's best it's best to leave it as it was, and try and fix it. So I think that can sometimes really be a blind spot that I need to watch out for in my raw. And then just to coincide with what Damien is saying, I work really closely with a co supervisor, who always says to me, "is the spotlight on you, Michael or on your client?" and I I love that terminology. Because it really reminds me, why am I asking this question? Is it for them? Or is it for me? And also, why am I telling them what I'm telling them? Is that just because I want to? Or is it serving the session, and I really like to kind of, you know, remind myself and my dialing up relator or by dialing it down. Awesome. Yeah.

Chad Ahern 10:25

Michael, that's, that's a really interesting perspective to have in terms of the the work that we all do as coaches. I'm curious, does that same sort of spotlight idea flow over into your friendships? You know, is this friendship for me versus the friendship is beneficial for both of us? Is that is that same sort of dynamic applied?

Michael Stafford 10:51

Right question? I would say, until I start working with strengths and understanding the world through the lens of strengths, I would say, yes, it would have impacted in a raw way, definitely. But as you know, I have friendships that are 30, 40 years old, at this stage, you know, are coming up to 40 years old, and they're reciprocated. And they need to be reciprocated for me. As I was, if I was young, when I was younger, I would have had a desire to be friends with many. That was definitely Relator in overdrive for me. But I've slowed that down, and an assessment, especially true COVID When, you know, circles got smaller, because of COVID. Or because we were less seeing people, I felt I felt that I nurtured and fostered the relationships that really really mattered. What I don't give, I don't give extra time to a particular person for the sake of being extra time for that person. Each person or each person in my life means something to me. And it needs to be reciprocated in order for the relationship to grow. That makes sense.

Chad Ahern 12:14

I'm loving that word of "reciprocation" come up a couple of times. I'm hearing that a lot. Was there anything else you want to add to your answer, Michael? Now, I'm just one of the things that you did bring up that I found fascinating, in our pre show that we we talked about yesterday was this sort of, I think you call "grief dodging," and I don't want to put words in your mouth. But I'm hoping that that word, or that phrase might trigger you a little bit on, on that aspect of of the sort of raw side of, or maybe a negative side of Relator. I thought it was just a really unique thing. And if you don't want to go there don't feel too but I found it out some fasting, I think it might be beneficial for our audience,

Michael Stafford 13:02

You did actually tell me you would remind me again today. So I'm happy to go there in the spirit of sharing with the audience. When I talk about grief, grief dodging, I talk about coming from a place that I haven't experienced close loss while I have some friends who have and because I feel that I don't have the experience of that, by some some of my friends will jokingly call me a "grief dodger", because I will do everything else I can to support them. But I can't be with them for long periods of time, because I almost feel like there's a falseness or an inauthentic and authenticity to the conversation, because I don't know how they feel. I don't know where they're coming from. And it's interesting, because they will say, would just be there. So you mentioned it about it. In a raw state, I'm very aware of it. And I do very, I do a lot of things to support them, but maybe not be present. And I'm working on that. But it's also because it's my stuff. And I in the spirit of having a nurturing relationship. We'll work on that because I want relationships to you know, they've gone through it, and I will, I will go through it, but not yet. And they will be there for me from that lens, and they will have experienced too. So yeah, thank you for reminding because you're, you're you're reminding me that I continue to do work in that space. And also, it's not just relator that's in play there as well. It's me protecting myself with my harmony and empathy as well. I'm making sure that I have boundaries in place that I'm not triggered too much that I won't be able to bounce back from. I hope that helps.

Chad Ahern 15:07

No, it's wonderful. I kind of want to put the same sort of question to the expanding on the idea back to Damien. Are there situations like you where you have a tough time maintaining that relator engagement with people because you haven't had a similar experience. So you can't relate to the experience that your connection is going through? Just want to bring your perspective, and I know we each use our talents differently, so it might show up differently, but I thought the the differences or similarities might be helpful to those that are listening.

Damian Zikakis 15:46

I would say that, where that idea shows up for me is, is in coaching sessions, more so than personal relationships, where where somebody is experiencing something that I have not. And, and so I struggle with asking a meaningful question. Sometimes coaching questions can, I think can sound trite, and I'm high in Communication. So I focus a lot naturally on the right word at the right time. And so I think with, with that same emphasis or similar emphasis on relationships, I think that that can be a challenge for me trying to find the right word, I can't relate to the situation that the other person facing

Chad Ahern 16:39

Thank you very much for that.

Jen Werner 16:41

While Michael was talking, it reminded me of something that we talked about in the pre show. And I believe you actually, Damian talked about this as as it's a wonderful thing, but it also can have a like a negative side to it, a little, like sharper edge. Maybe want to talk to me a talk to us a little bit about the loyalty of like the "mama bear."

Damian Zikakis 17:04

You bet. And after, as I was thinking, My mama bear, but I think we think of the mama protecting the cub, right? If you're on a hike. And so for me, with with work teams that I've had, in the past, I've always had the good fortune, and I think as a result of my Relator, being so high, of developing close and loyal relationships with those that work with me, and that, that expands, even to me having a sense of protecting them, protecting those people. And I'm a pretty easygoing guy, a lot of people only see that side of me. And what I've realized, in my last job at a university, was I'm really easy going until you start messing with my people. And that's the phrase I'll use, like, I can handle a lot of stuff. But when you mess with my people, like all gloves are off. You can mess with me, I can handle myself. But if you're messing with my people that aren't in a position to stand up to you because of power differentials, like, that doesn't work for me. And we're going to talk about and so that's, that's an interesting side of relator that I've realized,

Jen Werner 18:31

I loved it; because you were talking about that "mama bear" in the in the pre show, and I was like, "Oh, I could just see it. Like, Don't you mess with my cubs? Like, these are my babies." Thank you.

Chad Ahern 18:41

Because very much we're back around and what Michael was sharing about the whole loyalty aspect, I think that's an interesting piece. Jen posed the sort of darker side of the question, I'm gonna have the the privilege of bringing us back arrived at sort of the, the more positive side of this theme and sort of how it has positively benefited you in your lives or in your work. And I'm going to pose this to Damian first, to be sort of my Harmony is happy when I could give equal time and equal presence to people first. So Damian, I'm gonna put it right back on you. How did you know beyond the mama bear? And being maybe protective? Is there a light? Is there a more positive side of that? And are there other aspects that you'd like to highlight in terms of how this has positively benefit your life?

Damian Zikakis 19:38

One, one positive. And I'm fascinated by all talents, and I am curious about them all and I see other people do things that come easily, and that's helped me. Notice things that come easy to me that don't come easy to others and one of them is, is being able to go deeper with strangers in a way that I think benefits both. And I've gotten recognition about that from others. So for an example many of us have had experiences with airlines that don't go our way. And the poor people that work behind the counter, you know, are dealing with irate customers all day long. So, I my approach, when trying to remedy a situation is to start positive, and try to establish a relationship. And and even though Positivity isn't high, for me, it's it's, I'm able to turn it on in that moment. And Empathy, but Empathy is high for me. And so I kind of leave this combination of Empathy and Relator I can address the person and begin by saying, "How's your day going? I know you've got a super stressful job. I don't want to add to that stress today. I'm hoping you can give me some advice." And, and...

Chad Ahern 21:01


Damian Zikakis 21:02

...what I've found, is it it engenders a willingness in them to help me because I didn't come there to attack them. I came up I came alongside of them...if you will.


You sort of downplayed your ability to go deep fast, or, you know, share too much right off the bat. But I That's a beautiful example of how you can kind of flip that around or tweak that approach a little bit and really have some really positive experiences with with people you're just meeting for the first time. You mentioned another story yesterday that I thought was really telling about the building of the community playground. And getting, because I think one of the things you brought up, which I found very fascinating in our pre show was that end phrase of the of the brief description about "working hard with friends to achieve a goal." And you mentioned that when we're talking about just sort of how it shows up generally for you. Do you care to elaborate on the playground story and kind of how that plays out? Because I thought that was a beautiful demonstration that others who are starting to learn about this might resonate with?

Damian Zikakis 22:16

Yeah, no, thanks for that reminder. So you know, in the Gallup definition, it talks about working hard with a small group of friends. And for me, the the word friend, the emphasis isn't on the word friend, or, you know, different definitions of friend, so it doesn't need to be a close friend, it can be a friendly relationship. And so when my kids were in grade school, many years ago, I was active in the PTA, and, and a topic came up one time about more playground equipment for this elementary school. And I did a little research and found for the amount of our budget, which was $20,000, and you could either buy one piece of commercial equipment, or we could, if we could muster the the resources, we could do a community built playground, but we needed about 200 people, and we needed donations of materials and raise money and all these things. And so I mentioned this up these options, meeting, and somebody said, we can't even get two volunteers to come weed the flower beds. How are we to get 150, 200 people that can build a playground. And, and Connectedness is also very high for me (#4) and I just thought of what an impact this will be. And a legacy this would be for the children, for the families, the experience of the community. And I made an impassioned plea, you know, give me one month to come back to you with a plan. And I started talking to people and everybody I talked to was so excited about it because I use that word legacy, which is a word that that we all know, but it's it's not used in casual conversation. It's typically more a lofty kind of a thing. And everybody that I talked to said we can do it. Absolutely. And we did it. We had over 200 people, we had lots of donations. We all worked hard for a weekend, man. It was literally dusk, dawn till dusk for three days. And when we were done, we had this amazing playground. And I got so many so much feedback from people saying this was an amazing experience that I'll never forget. And epilogue that I didn't mention in the pre show was two years later, we moved just about five miles away, but our kids were in a different elementary school. And so when we went to that elementary school for the first time, or maybe it was a PTA meeting, the head of PTA said I know who you are. Get over here, and we did.

Chad Ahern 24:52

Oh, that's awesome. Relator times two where we did that's that's fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing this very tell a very demonstrative examples of how Relator can come out and really bring people together. Michael, you shared some things in our pre show, and I'd love for you to get your take on this question about how does your Relator show up in a helpful beneficial way, whether it's in your life or in your work, or both, and sort of maybe maybe expand on or maybe even differentiate from Damian's comments.

Michael Stafford 25:33

Yeah, well, look, I think for me, it was there was there real, I find that really easy to talk to people with Relator. And I know sometimes we look at the team and we go, oh, Relator, sometimes their attitude is that they work really well with the people that they know. But I think how it shows up for me is there's a, there's a trust that's already there. And I kind of foster and nurture that trust with people that I meet. My mom would often say to me, "Michael, you wear your heart or your you know, on your sleeve." And I think that's a way of me kind of telling people, you can trust me, because I am sharing what you what, you know, whatever that tends to be. And I don't mean necessarily oversharing but meaning I'm telling you things that could be a risk to other people to hear. But I'm willing to go there with you because I want to foster that relationship or make that connection. So I think Relator helps me to build those relationships quickly. But it also allows other people, in most cases, because remember what Damian said, sometimes you can overshare and it may make the other person uncomfortable. But I think there's a notch we tend to naturally veer towards people that we know will be open to that. And I often think is that because Relator is at play? Or is that just because the universe is at play? I don't know.

Chad Ahern 27:13

Okay. What I found interesting about what you just shared is, you know, Jen and I have had plenty of conversations about how our Deliberative talents can make us be risk adverse of that new relationships or new experiences. And I think one of the things you wonderfully highlighted there is how Relator can almost take the positive approach of people are overall pretty decent. And you're just now looking to deepen that if I was hearing you correctly.

Michael Stafford 27:41

Yeah, I agree. Chad. And I also think, though, to go back on what Damian was saying, with the lady in the or the gent in the airline, it's, it's, you know, we have an informality with the way that we talk that naturally, I think puts people at ease. And it's not manipulative. It's it's genuine. It's i It's, I often say, I see you, I hear you as a person, you probably seen in the movie, Avatar, there's a character that says "I see you". And it's a real weird way of saying, "I see all of you". And I'm not here to add to that, as Damian was saying, I'm here to tell you, I understand that. But how can we make both of our days better?

Chad Ahern 28:28

It's so funny. You mentioned Avatar because as you're talking about that's exactly the media reference I was gonna mention. So I'm glad you went right there yourself so, fantastic.

Jen Werner 28:43

In the pre show, you talked a little bit and it's similar to Damian's talking about the blending of his Relator with his Empathy. And you brought up an example and have an idea about your Relator and your Individualization working together. And I will say, as someone who, who like didn't know you, before we were thrown into a thing together, I would say absolutely felt that from you that like ability to see me and go deep. I would love to hear you talk about that blend of your Individualization and Relator.

Michael Stafford 29:18

Yeah, I think all of I think all of our strengths are, you know, our, our superpowers, but not on their own. I think they're heightened when they're working with another or maybe three. Well, for me, you know, Individualization for me with Relator is the added value, I tend to call it of not only seeing the person, but remembering the person details of what they tell you. So it's the deepening; it's a deep it helps to go deeper even quicker. So, if I put this into perspective for into scenario I will, with Relator. It's about getting to know you quickly and, and strengthen and deepen that relationship with individualization, you're always thinking about, "how could I really, really see this person and what they liked? What do I need to remember about this person that's really gonna add value to our relationship?" Are you relator. So if you may tell me as a Relator, me as a Relator, you might say something to me, and I go, I'm gonna park that, that will go in there somewhere in the brain, and then leaning into Individualization. Say a birthday came up and Jen happened to mention to me that she had a book that she read 10 years ago, and she never was able to get our hands on a copy; I will be in the background, looking for a copy of that book, to not only strengthen our relationship, but to show how much I genuinely cared about our relationship. But Individualization is really at play there. Because it's not just the gift. It's a gift, that means something to you.

Jen Werner 31:05

Yeah, I love that. So great.

Chad Ahern 31:09

Well, I'm just taking a second to process all that. Because, as I said, by Relator's, 13. So I've got a lot to learn from from both of you, I'm also thinking just given that we're all in the coaching environment. You know, Jen and I were comparing some notes after our pre show, and realize that we really hadn't coached many people with Relator ourselves. But I'm wondering if you can, if there's anything else you'd want to add, in terms of seeing other people's Relator [talents] come out, you know, with his coaching clients, or maybe on a significant other that has Relator? Are there any really positive examples of this talent theme coming out that are maybe significantly different than what we've talked about? Because we've already covered a lot of ground, I just didn't know if there was something else that we need to add or might be beneficial for our listeners to, to understand around this theme that that would come through this perspective of a person you've coached. Damian?.

Damian Zikakis 32:11

Yeah, so I'm coaching a finance executive right now. And Relator is quite high for him. And he's aware of that. And he realizes that one of the, it's been easy and effective for him to develop relationships with his team in different jobs over the years. But what the reason I want to bring up this example was, we talked about investing in our talents to make them into strengths. And in discussion, he and I talked about his relationship with his peers in this organization, other members of the C suite that was sometimes competitive, but he didn't think of them the same way he thought of his team. And so I asked him a question, you know, given that Relator is so high for you, is there a different way you could relate to your peers than you have? And it gave him pause. And finally, he said, I'm not I don't know where you're going with this. I said, "well, you when you think of, we've talked about a plot, when you have a goal to look how you can apply your your talents and strengths to that goal. And one of your goals is to have a better relationship with your peers, your Relator talent is sitting right there in the top drawer, your toolbox, but you haven't thought of it at that level. You've thought of it down the org chart. And that was powerful for him and, and led to some behavior changes that have been quite effective for him.

Chad Ahern 33:51

Nice. Nice. Yeah, that's that's an interesting dynamic to think about social circles where the power dynamics going, as you said, downward versus lateral or with peers. That's a really interesting perspective. Michael, was there anything you want to add before we move on?

Michael Stafford 34:13

Damin, you brought up this point in the pre show, which I found fascinating as well. It's the it's the relator piece around unintentionally excluding people from a group. You might elaborate on that again, for just for the audience, because I really, I really liked that.


Yeah. So in this case, I'm the subject of the story. Going back to your point that we're always working on ourselves too.

Damian Zikakis 34:41

And when I was leading a large team, in my in my job at the university, I made it a practice of meeting with everybody individually for not just people that have my direct reports. So I would spend an hour with people and and there was one person on my team that I felt like we never really clicked. And I didn't really understand why. I had tried a little bit, but, but nothing seemed to resonate. As you talked about you, it's easy to form a relationship when you're getting when there's a give and take or when it's reciprocated. And so I said to her, you know, I feel like, we're not as close as we could be. And I'm wondering if you have an explanation for that, because not not that we do battle, but we just, you know, we don't have strong report. And she sold that's because you have your favorites, and I'm not one of them. And this woman was very direct. Probably in Command.

Chad Ahern 34:41

Right. Right. I was just wondering.

Damian Zikakis 35:46

And she said, you have your favorites. And I, I've always thought about treating people the same. It's a, I've been conscious of that. And so I thought about that. And, and she said, so can you give me an example of how, you know, what have you experienced that makes you say that? And she said, Well, when you wander around the office, you know, chatting with people. You never stopped by my cubicle. Or you do and it's for just a second. And she was absolutely right. And it wasn't because I didn't like her or she wasn't a favorite. It was because it was not easy for us to have conversations we never really clicked. And my my questions would fall flat. You know, like, how was your weekend? Fine. And then she'd look back at our computer? Or what did you do this weekend, not much looked

Chad Ahern 36:45

And for somebody that wants to build a relationship that's a little hard with the conversation gets cut off?

Damian Zikakis 36:53

Yeah. So anyway, you know, that was her reality. So that was the reality. And I had to own that and think about okay, what can I do about that?

Michael Stafford 37:04

Yeah. Thanks, Damian for sharing that. And reminding others reminding ourselves of it, because I think that's what we need to be mindful of as if Relator is high in our ranking, because we tend to, if we don't get it back straight away, or that initial interaction, sometimes we don't try again, or we forget to say, well, the best way, what's the best way forward for this relationship? And I think, like, what it's asking the question, what is it you need from me, so that I can help lean into my Relator to serve you in that way. So I love because you go in there every day is going to ask and asking her how her day was, it's going to just you and be met with that all the time. It's not gonna serve you. And she doesn't want you there. Anyway, she wants to get over our work. Great.

Jen Werner 38:03

I love these examples. Chad, did you have any? I was thinking back to, you know, some of my coaching clients. And in they've really fallen into the same levels that I see here in in Damian and Michael, and that they've expressed to us have you seen anything different in any when you when you've coached?

Chad Ahern 38:20

Yeah, I really have not. I mean, this has been a lot of very similar to the threads I for the few people that I happen to have talked to about Relator. I think one point, and this may be going backwards in our conversation a little bit, but I feel like it it's this is a key point to bring it up. Because we did talk a little bit about this in the pre show, which is for those of us that are starting to understand, you know, for people that are listening to this are starting to explore their their talents. And as I read the long description, there's can be, not always, this impression that Relator is really about these sort of inner circles or these inner cliques. And, Michael, you were really enlightening to me yesterday, we were talking about this in the pre show about, you know, you've held on to relationships for I think you even said 30, you know, 20 or 30 years, and the circles are actually fairly wide. And that really kind of surprised me. I mean, it was great and enlightening and definitely, you know, broke some of the pre preconceived notions I had about this theme. But I'm just I'm truly curious about how you see that dynamic of the inner circle versus broad ranging, you know, a wide variety of relationships. Damian, I've heard you say it's a little bit more about what can we get done together? Even think you had the example of a close group of friends working on a vacation house or something; yesterday, I don't know if it's a lake house; I know there's plenty lakes up there. But but then Michael, you are talking a lot about very wide circles. I was just wondering if both of you could talk about that sort of impression of the clique versus wide ranging a wide ranging network?

Michael Stafford 40:18

Yeah, for me, it's that the, that I've a wide demographic of, of relationships. So I have friends that are 20. And I have friends that are 80. And, you know, that's from my travels around the world and the teams that I've worked with, and leaving employment and going to another job and another career or different industry, before I went self employed, you know, six, seven years ago now. I've still maintain those friendships and relationships along the way, because they were reciprocated. So there isn't an it isn't that there's one circle, and then that's a, it's not each circle gets the same amount of, I'm not going to say time, we'll get the same amount of nurturing at different times. I'm very conscious of the fact that and I think this could be Harmony, at play as well, Chad. I'm very conscious of other people and not wanting a group of people to feel you spend too much time with them, and not enough time with us. So I think Relator plays in Harmony there around me being very aware that the interactions that we have are well spent, that were present for those react interactions, because some people I may only see once or twice a year, and we go deep, and we have value, and we really appreciate those conversations. And that's what I think about the wide circle that's outside. I don't what I would say, if you're not in it's very hard to get in. At that edge. Yeah.

Chad Ahern 42:00

Damian, any any variation on that for you in terms of wide ranging? You mentioned sometimes that you tend to let professional connections go once you've moved on versus what Michael was just talking about? Any perspectives on on that?

Damian Zikakis 42:21

I don't, I don't have an explanation for that. I haven't really thought about that. It's on the one hand, it's something that, you know, I wish I didn't do but on the other hand, it's something that, you know, I've continually done so it's I'm not sure where that comes from. I think it's, it's sort of maybe investing in those that, um, that are around me right now is as so I think it's wonderful that you may maintain those over the years. I wish I have, but I but I haven't.

Chad Ahern 42:55

Okay, not trying I put anybody on the spot here.

Jen Werner 43:00

It's interesting, interesting to see the differences and that I think that's what's so wonderful about doing this. You know, Chad and I have similar strengths, some, some same strengths. And it's great to see just even the little tiny differences in our strengths. And then when we start to get more people involved in this, it's, it's why we opened it up to the other coaches, because you all have different talents high than we have, and listening to how those talents play out and how they look up surrounded by some of your other talents that are supporting it. It's just wonderful to see the blend. And if we're just looking at the two of us, we see it one way because that's our lens, right? So it's just wonderful to hear the differences and even having Relator at eight I you know, I feel a little bit like like Michael about having the like, if you're in you're in and if you're out you're probably not getting in and Chad and I talked a little bit about that. Like maybe that's a little bit of the Deliberative? "I'm not sure you're safe. I'm sorry, you're gonna just be on the outskirts for now." So you know, I just think it's wonderful to see the differences in in the in the talents as they play out in us. I if there's if there were kind of are we over the additional coaching ideas here, Chad?

Chad Ahern 44:16

Yeah. No, I like to move along and see if they have some images maybe.

Jen Werner 44:24

Absolutely. So we like to you know, add some like maybe some pop pop culture or even some just imagery around the talents when when we move move into this and in some of our past shows, we've had some some great ideas and examples. So some of us are really visual and so it's it's good to have like an image in mind when we think about a talent. Michael, we absolutely loved your image and would like you to share with us first, your image when you think about Relator.

Michael Stafford 44:55

So my image of Relator looks like a big set of angel wings. And there's a couple of reasons. If you think of angel wings, and they're there, they're protecting you. They're covering you. There's an intimacy to that relationship as well. But it's not just superficial. It's spiritual. It's, it's on so many levels, just the way an angel, I suppose how I would see out an angel are very, not just small angel wings, the big angel wings, as you know, and then that almost encapsulates the circle. You're in here. And we're both and we're both here. So that's the image for me.

Jen Werner 45:36

Awesome. Damian, you had some examples that we really liked, too. So of how this how you feel like it looks to you.

Damian Zikakis 45:45

Yeah. So So the example I mentioned yesterday, and I thought of a new one is it percolated overnight, I shared yesterday was, what if you've ever seen a picture of people putting sandbags in place or passing out cases of water after a natural disaster, where it's a human chain, and they're all working together to the same with the same goal. But the other the image that came to me overnight, was that of a barn raising where a community comes together with the sole goal, and they work really hard. And there's such joy that emerges not only for the recipient of the barn, but for everybody working together, somebody's cooking, and somebody's doing this, and blah, blah, blah. And so that's really, and that's what I've experienced, sort of the playground, and the friend with the lake house, is this pipe, this group of people that then disperses, but can come back together and, and pick on another goal.

Jen Werner 46:42

That's, yeah, you got deep in that in that shared emotional or physical experience, you're able to get deep with these people and do something meaningful. And I love that, that in both of these two images together, brought me to the one I had always thought of when we talk about circles. And so I'm gonna just bring it up the movie, Meet the Fockers with Robert De Niro, where he talks about is, you know, his inner circle and like, whether you're in or you're out, yeah, it's just one of those. That's, that's how I've always thought about it. So it it works perfectly, I think with the two of yours too.


I just as sort of, I just want to kind of just being that sort of nothing outside of the conversation. But being the sort of bystander, I find it's so interesting that the three different examples, Jen's image seems to encapsulate what a lot of people might initially think about Relator you know, that it "in or out", the "circle of trust", then we've got Michael with a very spiritual, very long lasting, talking about angels. So the eternal lasting of relationships. And then Damian, you came right back around with almost the practical that coming back to there being a shared goal and working together, and the relationships are built around a cause. I think it's just a beautiful demonstration through those three images of the variation in this theme. I just wanted to highlight that, because that was something that really stuck out to me as we as we think about each of those images.

Jen Werner 48:14

That's awesome. So thank you. In this in this next section, we want to really think about the role the Relator theme can play in our contributions to teams. So whether that's from a team leader standpoint, or you know, someone on the team, we want to want your ideas or opinions about the ways that perhaps this theme can get in a leader's way, or maybe even potentially, like derail a team, because we know it happens, so we're looking for, for ideas, and maybe some action steps around like, "hey, watch out for this", "this, this may be an issue for you". Or if you see this happening on your team, maybe what are what are some things we can do? So do you have any ideas or, or thoughts for our listeners around the negative potential impacts on a team for for someone with Relator? Damian, I want to start with you.


Sure up sorry about that. I plugged my computer in and the camera went off. There we go. So the risk, I think, for our team is, I think back to that story of the individual that thought that wasn't she wasn't a favorite. And and so I think that's a real risk when a leader is high in Relator, that they may inadvertently give off a message that others aren't part of the of this team. And and so I think that a solution, not the solution, a solution is to just be cognizant, cognizant of that and work hard. If you're leading a team to look for ways to include those that maybe aren't that you don't have deep relationships with. The other thing that I would say, if you don't have Relator, or even if you do as a leader, look for others with Relator on your team. I mentioned yesterday that, you know, Gallup has chosen colors for each of the domains, and the relationship building domain, of which Relator is a part of, that color is blue. And, and so a friend of another coach friend of mine, had, the phrase that I picked up on, "blue is the glue" that holds the team together. And so as a leader, if if you're not high Relator, or even if you are look for others on your team that are high in Relator, and recruit them to be part of that glue that holds the team together.

Jen Werner 50:50

Yeah, that's great. Um, I was thinking back to exactly what you said about that feeling like you're on the outs, or you're not a favorite. I was in a team that had a high Relator as as the manager and and we saw that the the people who were in, you could tell who was in and who was out. Now, when the leader wasn't there, wasn't present, we really all work together just fine. We mesh just fine. But when that team leader would would step in, it's like, they would suck the energy of those people right to them. And we could feel like, you know, those who were out really felt on the outs. And it's just interesting how, how emotional that that relationship really can feel, even for those who don't have high Relator. You know, you can you can sense it. Like when you're out, you're out. So I think those ideas for action are fantastic once. Michael, did you have anything to add?

Michael Stafford 51:52

Yeah, I was percolating on this last night as we finished our conversation. And because my background is HR I wanted to throw a lens on around how the need to have intimate or deep relationships with your team, if you have high Relator can actually sometimes get in the way of policy, procedure, legal, what's right. Oversharing may not be something that can be something that can be stood by, when you then say, Oh, well, I'm trying to form relationships with my team. Yeah, but you can say that, or you can do this. So be very mindful of that. When if you have got Relator because it can get in the way. It's it's that element of us. You know, I think for Relators, we actually feel that it's worth the risk to get to know somebody, we're willing to go there. But that may not necessarily be the right thing to do for the business.

Jen Werner 52:59

That's a great point. Yeah, great.

Chad Ahern 53:02

Michael, you brought up something yesterday that I thought was really insightful. And it actually had more to do with a individual team member, sort of not necessarily a leader, but an individual contributor who had high loyalty. And about that, that loyalty to the to the team can get in the way of bigger initiatives. And I was just wondering, I think you talked about sort of a silo mentality. I was just wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit or share the full thought on that, because I just made some quick notes that's what I'm bringing back up.

Michael Stafford 53:38

Yeah, look, I mean, I worked on I've seen it before, on numerous occasions where the silo mentality as in the team, with this Relator in it worked really well. They would be what we refer to as a high performing team, but not in the sense of collaboration, because they found it difficult to it was like, the Relator competed with other teams as opposed to support that those conversations. So it's like, what, it's where the circle was small and tight. But they weren't seeing the perspective of if we wide this circle, and embraced all of the teams, how the business would benefit from that.

Chad Ahern 54:31

Wonderful, thank you. Definitely. Yeah, definitely a hiccup. If you got people running around with Relator and just thinking about, you know, their own little pocket of people.

Michael Stafford 54:42

I think it's a it's a safety zone. It's a safety zone for people, you know, it's it's okay, it's comfortable. And yeah, we need to stretch our stretch our perspective and our strengths, you know, so that we see what their perspective

Jen Werner 54:56

Yeah, and it's, it's true. We have so many issues. issues right now in companies and businesses where you know, the teams really are siloed. And we see that that cross collaboration is really what makes the whole company successful. And everyone's successful when we can broaden that circle, as you say, and think of it, maybe we're not just our little team, but how can we make the whole company feel like our team? That's great.

Chad Ahern 55:23

So I, again, seemingly have the privilege of bring us back around to the positive side. So we've talked about some fantastic attributes and capacities of people with these talents. As you start to think about sort of best contribution, I know we've already touched on the blue is the blue, but are there other comments or other observations you have about some of the benefits that this, people with this these talents can bring to a team, whether they're in a leadership role, or maybe even an individual contributor role? Some of the listeners might not be in leadership positions, but they're thinking "I've got Relator." How do I best bring this to my team? Or how can I think about it anew? What are your thoughts on that? And I'll start with Michael this time.

Michael Stafford 56:14

I was just gonna say, Damian.

Chad Ahern 56:17

You want to hand it off, I'm not gonna stop you.

Michael Stafford 56:20

No, it's absolutely fine. What I would add is, I think people that have Relator are naturally curious. And I think if anyone out there is a Relator, listening, and I say, ask more questions, be more curious. Get to know people. Don't, you know, don't, don't don't lean back, but lean in to your relator. Because people are craving, craving connection now. I think it's a really powerful strength to be bringing into a team in that way. Team -- T-e-a-m., not t-h-e-m-e. Okay. I'm conscious of my Irish dialect.

Chad Ahern 57:02


Damian Zikakis 57:03

I think that's great. I'm curious, but but, oddly, that, you know, your comment about the spotlight really has given me pause. Because I'm curious, but my curiosity oftentimes doesn't go very deep. And I think that that's an area where I could strengthen my Relator. And, but anyway, so back to your question, Chad, about what can be done in a team setting. I think it's particularly in in the times that we're living in now where there's still a lot of people working virtually, and not feeling connected. If you have Relator, lean into it, and reach out to people outside of zoom, you know, quick check ins, text, message, whatever. And recruit others on your team that have influencing themes, whether it's Relator or not, too. Because if you if you know that this is something that comes naturally to them, it not only will be helpful to others, but it will actually give them energy and bring them joy. And so look around your team and see who has Relator or other relationship building teams themes and recruit them to participate in this nurturing of the group.

Jen Werner 57:03

I love it. That's why I love that you guys yesterday, and I'm sorry, I don't remember who said it in the pre show, but I heard the the term, you can be the cheerleader for the team. And I don't remember which of you said it, but but I saw head nods, you know, from everybody across the board, but that this is something that the Relator you know, as a team leader, you can really be the cheerleader for your team and, and really be there to support them, even without, and that was the part that I thought was key was even without having a strong connection to each team member, you're able to do that. Does anybody want to elaborate on that?

Damian Zikakis 59:15

Well, I don't know if I was one who said it or not. But but it sounds like something I might have said. You know, I think of, of experiences I've had leading teams where I was able to put that into play, particularly with people that don't necessarily have a voice yet in the team because like I remember a receptionist in this department at 27 and that was kind of a the lowest level coming onto the team. But it was in conversations with that person. We did click and and so I was a cheerleader for her because I saw things that she could bring to the team When I say cheerleader for her, I mean, I sing her praises publicly because other people didn't have awareness of of the talents that this person had. And it was awesome to see her light up as a result of that. And see other people get excited about what this person could offer to the group aside from greeting people as they came into our office. So it was just a sort of win, win, win, thing. And I experienced that over and over again with people that where I could kind of be their cheerleader.

Chad Ahern 1:00:38

That's fantastic. I love I'm sitting here taking in so much, I wish I could write this fast. But that's why we're taping this. So I could go back. Thank you so much both for sharing, just as we start to think about wrapping up this day. And we've spent just under an hour here talking about this and sharing a lot. I'm wondering if we were to summarize maybe one or two big points that you think you did either really like to re emphasize or maybe something that, you know, it sounds like both of you have been doing a lot of reflecting even as we've been conversing. And maybe there's a main point you'd love to put out there. But if, if we were to put out maybe a small segment, or, or point people to some real key points around this theme, what would they be for each of you? So I'm gonna start with with Damian, if you have maybe one or two big points that you'd like to really hit on, as we, as we conclude this episode, I'd love to hear your thoughts. And, Mike, I'll come to you next.

Damian Zikakis 1:01:43

Well, so for me, I think it's, it's actually a broader thought but it but since relators, my number one, it, it pertains to this probably as much as any, which is this notion of leaning into our strengths, and developing our talents into strengths. And even those that come so naturally to us, there's always opportunity to improve. And so that image of the spotlight will stick with me, Michael, thank you for that. And, and then the other thing, we talked yesterday, in the pre show about this notion of going deep versus versus wide, and that what stands out for me, personally, is relying on other people who have strengths that I don't have, and being aware of that, and and so if you don't have Relator, that's okay, you can either fake it, or you can you can sidle up to somebody that does, and let them do some of the heavy lifting. And, and that's great. And I've had that experience where I've been the one with Relator, you know, again, at the airport, somebody's having a problem. The problem was in my travel party, professional and personal. They'll say, "well, why don't you go up to the counter and talk to them? And it's like, sure," because it's easy for me to do. So you know. So my point is, let's rely on each other.

Jen Werner 1:03:12

Love it.

Chad Ahern 1:03:14

Excellent. Michael, your your parting thoughts, or one or two key takeaways that you think we should emphasize for others?

Michael Stafford 1:03:22

I suppose in the broader context of not just Relator leaning to each other, like what Damian is saying. And if you don't have it, I wouldn't concur with fake but what I would say is use whether you use but utilize other people who are energized in that space so that we all lift, it's like that we all grow together in that in that way. For me, as a wrap up, I suppose comment because you know, everyone's gonna listen to the entire podcast. So we want people to take away not just one one sentence, okay. But we do want them to realize that, you know, relator like any of the themes; it has its good and bad points. And we need to be aware of our blind spots, because especially with Relator we do not want to have relationships that are not being nurtured because we've taken our eye off the ball. So be mindful of checking in, like what Damien said and, and leaning into each other and supporting each other as a community and, you know, let's all get better. Together.

Chad Ahern 1:04:48

Wonderful. There's that word again, together.

Michael Stafford 1:04:51

Spoken like a true relator. Right, right.

Chad Ahern 1:04:57

It's very interesting. Both your answers were very relational... I want to get to you Damian... this is quick, but you went broad with with your answers, which I think is beautiful because it shows that you want to relate to people with any and all talents. So that's one of the things I took away from just your your broader service. Damian, you want to add something? I didn't mean to cut you off, I just want to finish my thought.

Damian Zikakis 1:05:25

That's great. I just wanted to elaborate on what I meant by fake it. And so for me, Woo is not high, right? Yeah. And it's exhausting. Yeah. And I can do it in bursts. So I can pretend to be a Woo for a little while. And then I have to crawl back into my cave, and re-energize. And then my Relator comes alive, and I go pursue relationships with those few people that I met in my Woo mode.

Michael Stafford 1:05:58

Damian, I think what you said yesterday, as well as having someone else who's a Woo do all the heavy lifting for you. And that's where we're supporting each other because they're completely energized in Woo mode. And then you're developing the relationship with Relator mode.

Chad Ahern 1:06:17

Awesome. I think that's a great place to stop. So I'm just gonna again, thank both of you for joining Jen. And I, Michael, I'm so thrilled to meet you through Jen. And, Damian, it's great to have you back again. For those of you that have listened to this whole thing, hopefully, as Michael said, you've made it to this point, I would just encourage you to subscribe and follow the rest of our podcast we're going to keep having wonderful coaches back like this. We're going to be including Damien and Michael's contact information in our show notes. So if you want to reach out to them if you happen to be listening from from Dublin and want a coach a little closer to home. Michael is your man and if you're in the Michigan area where we're Damian works out of feel free to get in touch with him. But for now, I'm gonna sign off. I'm Chad Ahern from Talent and Teams Consulting.

Jen Werner 1:07:12

And I'm Jen Warner from Jen Warner Coaching.

Chad Ahern 1:07:14

And we're gonna say thank you again to Damian and Michael for joining us and we wish everybody a wonderful day. Thank you.

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