In my previous post I talked about how you can measure your own bandwidth (and the likelihood of being seriously misunderstood at times) using the Grid. If you haven’t already read that post, you might want to start there.

This time we are going to take this idea a little further, and consider the same question but using the Birkman Behavioural Components.

You will need a Signature Report for this - if you have the old legacy Preview Report from Elaura, ask us for a free copy of the basic Signature report; we can also upgrade you to the full Signature Suite for a small fee. If you only have expresso, hoozyu or Snapshot, contact us for details of how to upgrade.

Before we get started, make sure you have reviewed the material in the audio guide, so that you are clear on what the Behavioural Components are about. (If you received your Signature Report from Elaura you will also have received a link to this online resource - contact us at if you are not sure how to access this.)

Now turn to page 17 in your Signature Report; this page is all about your Social Energy scores.

The other side of the mountain

Firstly, note the mountain-shaped graphs, one each for Usual, Needs and Stress. We are going to make use of this to make a simple point, and it is this:

  • Broadly speaking, if your Usual and Needs scores are on the same side of the ‘mountain’, people shouldn’t have too much difficulty understanding you.


  • You might have difficulty understanding people at the other side of the mountain.

John Public - Social Energy

Let’s unpack that.

For this exercise, I’ll be looking at the ‘John Public’ sample report. For Social Energy, John has scores of 38 Usual and 17 Need. Both scores are on the left hand side of the mountain. (He also has a 17 for Stress, but we won’t talk about that just yet.)

John’s Usual Style is to be fairly self-contained; not anti-social, but he definitely expects himself to get on with things by himself for the most part. His underlying Need is similar; he isn’t extreme, but he almost certainly prefers an environment which allows him to work alone for the most part, and socialise with one or two close friends rather than crowds of people he doesn’t know.

People who know John are likely to “get” this. In other words, they realise that they shouldn’t make too many social or group demands of John, but can do so when it really matters.

So John is pretty easy to read in that respect.

He may have trouble however, understanding the perspective of people who are strongly oriented to the other side of the mountain. Me, for example.

If I look at my own report, I’m a 99 Usual, 61 Need.

I expect myself to be very socially engaged, and although my Need is for a less socially demanding environment than you might guess from my Usual style, still I get cabin fever very quickly if I ever have to work or live on my own (when my family are away on a trip without me, for example).

So again, broadly speaking, people “get” my need for people; but I may struggle to “get” the perspective of people who are strongly oriented to the other side of the mountain.

Seeing over the mountain

Now the fact is, the closer you get to the top of the mountain (50 on the scale) from either side, the more of the “other side of the mountain” you are likely to understand.

John’s Usual score is 12 points, and my Need 11 points, away from the ‘top’ - so both of us can probably understand the other side of the mountain to an extent. But we wouldn’t cope with living there.

If I was a 99/84, instead of a 99/61, then I would probably be totally in the dark about what it meant to “just need space with no people in it.” If John was a 9/17, instead of 38/17, likewise: he couldn’t begin to imagine what people see in meetings and parties.

What about those who straddle the mountain?

Well a 62/38 would easily see both sides of the mountain; and because both scores are relatively close to “the top of the mountain”, and only 24 points apart, they are unlikely to be too severely misread by those who can only see their Usual Behaviour.

What about a 99/9 though?

That is the big gap we talked about last time - huge bandwidth, so they will be very at home with both “group engagement” and “alone time”; but no one is going to guess in a million years that their Socially Energetic behaviour masks such an extreme need for time to get on with their own things. (I once had to tell off a team of senior professionals who simply could not believe that their boss would rather get on with her own work rather than attend their meetings - even though she had been trying to block personal time in her calendar!)

Looking at your own Usual and Need scores for Social Energy, answer these questions for yourself:

  • How far apart are your Usual and Need scores?
  • Are both scores on one side of the mountain? Or do they fall on either side?
  • How near to the ‘top of the mountain’ are each of these scores?

Based on your answers to these questions write yourself a sentence or two explaining what this might mean for you - your potential blind spots, where others may be in danger of misreading you, things to be aware of… etc.

You can repeat this process for each of the Component scores, using pages 17-25 of your Signature Report.

As yet we haven’t covered Stress scores - look out for Part 3 in this series as we go into even greater depth.