Grab your Birkman Report and turn to the Map (if you’re using Signature) or the Grid (for expresso or legacy Preview Reports), because here is a simple and yet profound source of insight.

Look at where your Diamond is - the marker representing your Usual Style, or how you see yourself and expect yourself to operate.

Now look at where your Circle is (always inside the Square) - this marker represents what we call your Need; by which we mean, how you see other people , and what you expect of them.

Here is the big question: are the Diamond and Circle close together, or far apart?

Obviously this begs the question, compared to what?

Well, work out what 20% (one fifth) of the width of the Map or Grid would be. Are they that close or closer? If yes, that’s close.

If they are 50% (half) the width of the Map of Grid apart, that’s starting to look somewhat far apart. (Between 20% and 50% is sort of ‘averagely middling’ - which means probably that you shouldn’t read too much into this exercise.)

If they are over 80% (four fifths) the width of the Map or Grid apart, that’s really quite far apart.

So what? Well, there is both good news and bad for everyone.

Let’s start with the “far apart’s”.

The bad news is that - because “how you appear” (Usual) and “what’s really going on beneath the surface” (Need) are clearly quite different, people probably misread you on a pretty regular basis. They respond to “how you are” (or at least, appear to be) and that is unlikely to be a comfortable fit with “what you really need”.

The good news though is that you probably have a reasonable amount of ‘bandwidth’ to work with. After all, you understand all that goes with your Usual Style; but - possibly to everyone’s surprise, you also understand all that goes with your Need, too.

So, for example, if you are very Red Usual, but Blue Needs, then you surely understand the language and posture of action (“just do it”, to borrow Nike’s tagline); but you also actually understand a more reflective, measured approach to things (“let me think about that”).

It doesn’t mean you understand every perspective, but you cover a reasonable range.

What about the “close together” crowd?

For you the good news is that people don’t misread you too readily, because (at least in broad terms) what they see really is what they get. The less good news is that you may not have so much bandwidth to operate with.

This will be more marked the closer together your markers are, and the closer they are to an outside boundary of the Map.

If (for example), both your markers are in the outer Red corner, then you really are the action oriented person you appear to be; but if we ask you to be a bit more reflective because you are going to be working with some of those creative Blue types on your new assignment, you may struggle.

You might think you are working with space aliens, so little will you have in common with their point of view; or even worse, you may think you have bent over backwards to take a more considered approach to things, while all they are seeing is someone apparently hell-bent on action, regardless of any thought or planning…

Another way of saying this is that bandwidth comes at the cost of being misunderstood; and that being easily understood may indicate a lack of bandwidth.

A lack of bandwidth often equates to something of a blind spot. (Of course it also means you are probably very strong in your ‘native’ area, so it is not all bad). But the key to managing a blind spot, is first to acknowledge its likely existence (by definition you are unlikely to ever really see it for yourself); and having acknowledged it, find people who can tell you what needs to go in that space.

Take a couple of minutes now to look at your own Diamond and Circle, and try to summarise what you can learn from their proximity or otherwise, based on the above. (If your distance is ‘middling’ then you have a balance: “might be misread, a little” and “probably have at least a little bandwidth to work with”)

In the next post on bandwidth, we are going to apply this same principle to the Behavioural Components (only available if you have Signature or a legacy Preview report).