In 1975 Paul P. Mok, an organization development and communications consultant developed and copyrighted Communicating Styles Technology. Thirty two years later Training Associates Press was determined to track down the CST Founder and get a sampling of Dr. Mok’s views concerning the technology he developed.
TA: What prompted you to come up with CST in the first place?
Dr. Mok: At the time I was assisting a number of multinational corporations in such areas as team-building, communication, sales-marketing strategy and career management, In this capacity I was on the front line of complex organizational and interpersonal conflicts, adversarial thinking and behavior and productivity issues. I witnessed on a daily basis the need for a new, common platform or language for understanding communication that would enable managers to engage in constructive problem-solving without the usual ego involvement.
TA: A way out of self serving win-lose thinking that would provide a new way to think and communicate?
Dr. Mok: Exactly. I was first introduced to the work of Carl Jung as a Harvard grad student. I believe it was in the course Personality Theory taught by Dr. Sarnoff Mednick. I revisited what I learned there and discovered a virtual untapped goldmine of possibilities that could ultimately help managers transcend their self-serving dilemma.
TA: “Untapped goldmine” because?”
Dr. Mok: Because at the end of the day Jung was a theorist, not a pragmatic problem-solver. To use the terminology he gave us in his work in the twenties he was an “Intuitor,” an individual who thought in macro, visionary terms and who could envision a framework for understanding interpersonal communication without experiencing a need to test his theories or visions.
TA: We take it you’re using the term “test” advisedly?
Dr. Mok: Quite so. At Harvard those of us in the Consulting Psychology and Counseling program were required to study “Tests and Measurements” and statistics. When I got out into the real world of corporate competition and daily interpersonal slugfests I realized it would be great if there were a simple, straight-forward, non-threatening, non-judgmental test car survey of interpersonal communication – one that wouldn’t require administration or interpretation by psychologists such as the MMPI test or the Myers-Briggs or the Thematic Apperception Test. So using Jung’s powerful Theory as a baseline or foundation and using his terminology which was non-pejorative I designed the Communicating Styles Survey and another popular version, the I Speak Your Language Survey.
TA: Did you have any idea how successful the survey and related materials would be?
Dr. Mok: No. definitely not. I had no previous experience in publishing although I came from a family of writers. I had the option of taking my survey to an established publishing company such as the Psychological Corporation but didn’t want it to be marketed as a psychological instrument. Beyond that, my wife, Violet, thought it would he a great entrepreneurial adventure and learning experience to publish it ourselves. And was she ever right!
TA: How would you account for its tremendous use on a worldwide basis?
Dr. Mok: Managers have discovered that it works. The basis of its subjective validity -the degree to which the survey takers believe the survey results accurately profile their styles – keeps increasing. Another factor of course is the extremely low cost of the training materials. Another factor which is much more meaningful than I initially realized is the relevance of CST to solving cross-cultural conflicts.
TA: Could you give me an example of that?
Dr, Mok: I was in the Far past, consulting with U.S. managers who were marketing and servicing heavy equipment through distributors in China, Malaysia and Singapore. Many of these American managers were blaming their Asian counterparts for lacking a sense of urgency, failing to set goals and priorities and not understanding the significance of the U.S. based performance appraisal systems. Initial feedback from Asian managers indicated a widespread perception that US. managers didn’t understand or respect their cultures, were imposing systems based on a lack of trust, didn’t grasp the family ties and connections that often affected business relationships.
TA: Sounds very daunting. What did you do?
Dr. Mok: I introduced CST in a series of team-building workshops. Instead of attacking their U.S. counterparts, Asian managers were able to articulate that much American business behavior was sensor-based, non-personal, and confrontational as well as often rude. During one of these workshops a Chinese manager talked about celebrating the “Week of the Dead” several days before the workshop. I asked how many of the American managers in the room had visited American cemeteries in the previous year to honor their departed relatives. None had. This led to a discussion concerning the feeler values that characterized many Chinese traditions, an understanding of which could help U.S. managers to function effectively in a cross-cultural environment. This led to recommendations that the U.S. improved performance appraisal system should be modified to cultural and local differences. Later the mid-west U.S. based headquarters decided to hire and develop more Asian managers to interface with Asian distributors. Many changes were implemented that increased harmony, teamwork and productivity.
TA: A CST success story!
Dr. Mok: Indeed.
TA: Thank you, Dr. Mok. Hopefully in the future you’ll share more of your thoughts and observations.
Dr. Mok: It would be my pleasure.