Be a Chameleon
I remember reading once that it is useful – if not necessary – to be chameleon-like in order to create rapport and to be effective in interacting with others. I had a tough time swallowing this advice, and in fact, I was offended recently when a client referred to me as chameleon-like. I didn’t take it as a compliment; I found myself questioning the person’s intent, immediately assuming they thought I was being phony. When I inquired as to what prompted the comment, my client said they have admired over the years how I was able to modify and adapt my personality to create connection with whatever person I was interacting with. This caused me to think differently about the importance for each of us to be more chameleon-like. Perhaps being a chameleon is achieving mastery in the areas of adaptability and rapport building.
I believe that a more open and positive reframe of being a chameleon is necessary for each of us if we are going to be able to make connections and appropriately respond to people who are different from us. “Color change in chameleons has functions in camouflage, but most commonly in social signaling and in reactions to temperature and other conditions. The relative importance of these functions varies with the circumstances, as well as the species. Color change signals a chameleon’s physiological condition and intentions to other chameleons.” (Wikipedia) We humans have similar experiences, yet I am wondering if we could improve our interpersonal effectiveness by being more intentional with both our changing and signaling.
I would posit that most of us are more chameleon-like than we think, and it would serve us well to think of this innate ability to adjust to the situations in front of us as both natural and respectful. However, this view requires us to reconsider our current paradigm about showing different aspects of who we are. I think that many of us think or believe that changing our colors or our stripes is being inauthentic and not being true to who we are.
But consider for a moment how limiting it can be to describe ourselves in one particular or specific way. While we have certain preferences that shape our personality and behaviors, each of us are all of that and much, much, more. I believe that describing ourselves too narrowly artificially constrains both our current reality and future potential.
Experiment this week with adopting and integrating more of a chameleon approach to all of your interactions. You might be pleasantly surprised as to the results you achieve, simply by tapping into more of who you are – by changing, if you will, your colors.