What Happens When You Squeeze a Tube of Toothpaste?

What Happens When You Squeeze a Tube of Toothpaste?

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM / Published December 2018

Photo by iStockphoto.com/TomFreeze

It’s not a trick question. Hopefully your answer was, “Toothpaste comes out.” The next question is not a trick question either. “Why does toothpaste come out?” Because, that’s what is inside the tube!

     People are the same way. They go along in a reasonably accommodating way using the strengths of their communication styles. They benefit the team (the staff, the residents, and the vendors) by doing their jobs, making positive contributions, and helping the team move forward to achieve its goals.

     Then, there is the bad day—a day when a team player feels grouchy, pushed, and squeezed. Like the toothpaste tube. What’s in there is what comes out. Quite unexpectedly, the good team player becomes defiant instead of decisive, or excitable instead of inspiring, or stubborn instead of supportive, or aloof instead of concerned.

     Why does a person go from one extreme to the other? How did he or she get from there to here? What are you supposed to do in the meantime until he returns to his team-player attitude?

     Using a common communication assessment tool called DISC, we learn there are four types of communication types (with variations and blends).

     The Dominant (“D”)—Dominant, direct, determined, demanding, decisive, and a doer

     The Influencer (“I”)—Influencing, inducing, interactive, impressive, and interested in others

     The Supportive (“S”)—Steady, stable, supportive, sensitive, sweet, shy, and a team player

     The Critical Analyst (“C”)—Cautious, contemplative, competent, correct, and an analyst

     In the chart below, you can see that each of the D-I-S-C communication styles in normal situations are terrific additions to a team, whether it be management staff or a board of directors.

The progression from being a team player to “blowing your top” looks something like this:

             Normal                  Under              Extreme
          Situations            Pressure              Stress   


D      Strong-willed               Angry                 Reckless
          Determined                 Cruel                     Rude
             Decisive                Demanding            Defiant


I            Friendly              Weak-willed         Unrealistic
             Talkative                   Loud                   Gossipy
             Inspiring                Oversells             Emotional


S         Dependable            Spectator                Sucker
              Efficient                 Fearful                 Inflexible
            Supportive            Compliant             Stubborn


C          Analytical                  Picky                    Critical
        Conscientious         Worrisome            Revengeful
           Concerned                 Quiet                      Aloof

How did they get stressed?

     The D is stressed because he has not been able to make decisions or think big. He has been micromanaged and told what to think, feel, say, and do. He hasn’t been able to debate with anyone; he has had to bite his tongue.

     The I is stressed because he has not been able to talk to people and move freely about with an unrestricted schedule. He has probably had to sit still, be quiet, and complete too much detailed paperwork.

     The S is stressed because he has had to take an upfront position, multi-task, move fast, make decisions that are not popular, and confront people.

     The C is stressed because he has had to be “on” all day—talking with people, interacting, moving around, smiling, and making people happy. He has not been able to get his paper work done because of so many interruptions.

     Each type needs a de-stressing activity to resume their normal team player behavior. Some suggestions for each of them:

     D needs a physical activity such as jogging, tearing out the kitchen cabinets, moving a flowerbed, working out, or taking the dog for a walk.

     I needs a social activity such as going out with friends after work, exercising at the gym with friends, cooking out with the neighbors, or attending a business after hours.

     S needs a quiet activity such as a long drive home with the radio off, taking a nap, “zoning out” in front of the television or behind the newspaper, or staring at the fire or the ocean.

     C needs a cognitive activity such as researching or shopping (but not buying) on the Internet, redesigning the kitchen or workshop areas in his head, reading a technical book, organizing drawers, or balancing the checkbook.

     For you, the manager, here are some tips on dealing with each type until they resume their normal team player behavior.

     Let the D have some control or choices as appropriate. He is not afraid to make decisions, so, if you can, let him. Don’t let him intimidate you with his anger. It is explosive and scary, but short-lived. Give him challenging goals and take a “hands-off” approach. Do not micromanage.

     Let the I be more flexible in his schedule if possible. He will accomplish a lot of work but resists the 8:00–5:00 routine. Let him use his people skills. Give him opportunities to be out of the office talking to people. He needs to hear himself talk in order to resolve a problem, so be a patient listener.

     Let the S have more information and time to process it. Do not throw four projects on his desk and expect him to multi-task. Tell him the way you want it done and the order you want it done in; don’t make him use his judgment. He may tell you what is wrong if you are friendly and not sarcastic.

     Let the C ask questions, then listen to his suggestions. Let him know you have thought through your plan of action; ask him for his opinion. Ask him to find a solution to a problem, to find the errors in a report, or to research a topic. Be specific, accurate, and give him lots of data. If you ask him what is wrong, he will tell you.

     When the toothpaste gets squeezed, what’s in there is what comes out! Don’t be surprised! 

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM

Florida CAM Schools

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required, (352) 326-8365, or www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.