The Brilliance Series: Expressiveness

The Brilliance Series invites you to take a closer look at each of the seven Emergenetics® Attributes. Whether you are craving more information about your own Profile or interested in better understanding the preferences of others, the series will offer insights to shine a light on the gifts of each Attribute. This week, we’re exploring Expressiveness.

An Overview

Expressiveness is defined as the outward display of thoughts and emotions toward others and the world at large. One way I like to explain this Attribute is by using the metaphor of a bank account. Imagine a person has an account balance of 20,000 words that they can use in day.

Someone in the third-third typically prefers to process their thoughts externally and will likely use all of the words in their account. They might even borrow against tomorrow’s balance. Those in the first-third tend to process internally before speaking, so they may have 15,000+ words to roll over to the next day – or loan to their third-third Expressive colleague!

For people in the second-third, the circumstance will impact their expenditure. If they are passionate or worried about something, they might run through their balance in one 24-hour period. In other situations, they may keep a healthy number of words in their account.

Expressiveness also comes to life through facial expressions even if nothing is being said. For example, those in the third-third tend to be animated, actively conveying their inputs by nodding and using their hands. Those in the first-third are often reserved and calm, giving little indication of their opinions through their mannerisms.

Some words that are associated with third-third Expressiveness include outgoing and demonstrative. First-third Expressiveness is often described as tranquil and discreet.

The Inner Monologue

To give you a sense of what burning questions are being considered across this continuum, I invite you to watch this video of my colleague Lini Lingam, Managing Director, Emergenetics Asia Pacific, and me.

The Brilliances

No matter where your preference falls, there are gifts associated with each third of this Attribute. Ideally, a team has colleagues who represent a range across the spectrum so the group could benefit from all of these strengths.

In the third-third, a few of the brilliances include:

  • Acting as an energizing force
  • Speaking to anyone with relative ease
  • Breaking the ice

Some of the gifts that come from first-third Expressiveness include:

  • Acting as a calming force
  • Listening to and hearing inputs of others
  • Speak succinctly with precision

The second-third may borrow from strengths across the continuum and tend to:

  • Have a moderating effect
  • Amplify energy up or dial it down, based on the situation
  • Balance conversation with consideration


To help the Attribute shine, it’s important to consider the needs of each part of the spectrum. To boost your own energy, explore the recommendations below and consider how you could adjust your work environment to better serve your interests.

If you are looking for opportunities to motivate a person with a different Expressiveness preference from your own, think about how you can create the conditions that honor their Profile.

In the third-third:

  • Make time for discussions in person or virtually
  • Re-energize through group gatherings
  • Seek open workspaces with activity and background noise
  • Find a thought partner to talk through considerations

For the first-third:

  • Review information in advance to prepare for conversations
  • Re-energize independently
  • Find work environments that are quiet and calming
  • Use a reflective process like journaling to work through thoughts

Any of these tips may energize second-third Expressiveness depending on the situation. I recommend that people with this preference check in with themselves each day and assess what sort of environment or experience will motivate them at the time. If something isn’t working, try implementing another one of the tips above.

Flexing Across Expressiveness

If you’re collaborating with colleagues across the continuum, it’s helpful to keep a few pointers in mind so that you can work together effectively.

To support third-third teammates:

  • Provide opportunities to discuss projects and initiatives
  • Consider role playing a scenario
  • Recognize that their initial statements may not be their final take
  • Allow for interruptions
  • Demonstrate nonverbal cues

With first-third teammates:

  • Send information in advance and in writing
  • Give notice when people are going to be asked to present their thoughts
  • Use virtual collaboration tools to encourage contributions
  • Allow for pauses in conversation
  • Match rapport by choosing your words carefully

When collaborating with a second-third Expressive coworker, keep these recommendations in mind and be willing to move to either side of the continuum. By letting your second-third teammate set the tone, you can balance your approach to respect their needs.

Everyone wants to feel seen and heard, even if they may not be the first to speak up. When coworkers embrace the many gifts of the Expressiveness Attribute and create an environment where all preferences thrive, the whole group will feel more empowered to share their insights and use them to fuel a positive, productive workplace.

Explore the other entries in our series: Analytical, Structural, Social, Conceptual,  Assertiveness and Flexibility.

Get more tools to boost your brilliances and flex to honor colleagues. Take a tour of The egLearning Library or fill out the form below to talk to one our team members about Emergenetics’ training solutions!

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