What is your Color?

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Why are there still different severe accidents in the spacecraft built by a team of the top scientists of NASA? (Pellerin, 2009) This question aroused my interest in the book “How NASA build team!” Author Charles Pellerin is also a scientist and sent to investigate a mission about the rocket’s failure to lift off. According to Pellerin’s book, during his investigation, he did not find any technically severe accident that caused the accident. The cause of the accident was entirely due to communication errors and misunderstandings between the teams. (Pellerin, 2009)

Therefore, the author spent a long time researching and found that because different people have different communication modes, different communication modes have different understandings and expressions of the same thing. He established this ‘4D communication system’ to help people in the team understand different communication modes. The success of the team has an important relationship with the personal communication mode. (Wertz, 2015)

In my coaching or training, I often use this method because this can help me identify the different communication patterns of the team or trainees through simple questions and representations in the shortest time. This method shortens the time it takes for a coach to get to know the trainees, and it helps the coach express the coach’s expectations, requirements, and goals in a way that the trainees understand. It can also reduce communication errors in the process. I believe that can echo the ISTE Standard 1c and 3a. Because doing so can be more explicit about the coach’s role and ensure that people in different positions and roles can complete the communication and reduce the creation of a high-quality coaching environment.

According to “How NASA build team!” There are four types of communication they are:

Code Green; Cultivating:

In this communication type, In dialogue, the expression of personal values and thoughts is of great importance, and there are often some new ideas. It will give people an optimistic feeling. Sometimes people feel that their words are too vague, without direction, and hard to implement. But at the same time, they are very persistent and stubborn about the values they believe. (Pellerin, 2009)

Code Yellow; Including:

This type attaches great importance to the relationship between people and can act as an ambassador in the team. In the communication process, they will attach great importance to the feelings of everyone in the entire team. But people in the communication type sometimes give people a pessimistic feeling, especially when facing difficulties and being criticized. (Pellerin, 2009)

Code Blue; Visioning:

They are natural leaders. Their speech and expression are often attractive, they have a lot of imagination and direction, and they are full of courage and energy in communication. But in communication, they tend to overthink themselves and often ignore others’ feelings. Being a leader makes people feel like a dictator. (Pellerin, 2009)

Code Orange; Directing:

People with this type of communication, Have solid executive ability, good at following instructions, and work systematically. On the surface, they don’t have too many opinions on team communication, and they will pay attention to practical actions and rules. People feel that communication is relatively rigid and lacks flexibility. (Pellerin, 2009)

These four types of communication modes each have their advantages and disadvantages. Further understanding, there is a higher chance of disagreement between green and orange and between yellow and blue than other types. The reason is that the green type pays more attention to the idea and will easily lack the ability to execute, while the orange type pays much attention to the details of the action. Similarly, the yellow type attaches importance to the relationship between people and how others see themselves. In contrast, the blue type attaches more importance to their thoughts and tends to ignore the feelings of others. (Pellerin, 2009) Imagine, in a coaching section; a coach is the goal-oriented communication type. He tries to conduct an impartial review and point out one by one where there can be optimization in the process. But suppose the coach himself ignores his communication mode. In that case, his tone may ignore the other person’s feelings without knowing it if the coachee is relationship-oriented type. It’s easy to mistake the coach for criticizing him/her. Also, there is a chance to feel hurt emotionally. In this case, it will be difficult to establish mutual trust and peer relationships, and it is also easy to cause misunderstandings and lead to coaching failures. 

As a coach or team leader, through this 4D communication system, understand each person’s communication mode in the team, and communicate in a communication method that is easy for people of this type to understand and reduce misunderstandings. (Pellerin, 2009) Suppose you can achieve this part at the beginning of coaching or building a team. It will significantly improve the team or The effect of coaching and create a better team communication environment. 

Apart from identifying different communication modes, this system serves as a framework for designing coaching processes or content. I hope to have more opportunities to share with you in detail in the future. 

What is your color?


Pellerin, C. (2009), How NASA build teams, https://www.amazon.com/How-NASA-Builds-Teams-Scientists/dp/0470456485 


Wertz, P (2015) New study explores how personalities affect communication, teamwork https://news.psu.edu/story/364455/2015/08/03/research/new-study-explores-how-personalities-affect-communication-teamwork

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4 thoughts on “What is your Color?

  1. Karen

    Can someone fall into more than one category? It seems that with personality tests, like MBTI, the letters can change over time, but also that the middle two letters, are more of a preference than an exact this is what you are interpretation. How “exact” are you meant to take the color interpretations?

    1. admin

      Well, I guess it has some differences with the personality test. So far I have not found people change a or over by two colors. If people take the test, it mainly asks what people will do in his or her workplace. What we find is some people will have one color in the workplace, but have a different types when he or she not at work.

  2. K. Clum

    Interesting ideas. Thanks for sharing, Jason. I have encountered similar ideas about communication in a different kind of coding system for professional personalities in the work place (notably, the DISC assessment, https://www.thediscpersonalitytest.com/). The thing I believe these two approaches have in common is attention to the value base of the individual you’re speaking with. The quicker you can understand what an individual values most and what motivates them (efficiency? putting out new ideas? inclusive community?), the better you will understand them and the more quickly you’ll be able to move into a functional coaching relationship. This speaks nicely to the emotional intelligence needed for effective coaches.


    Really like the rocket ship perspective. It helps us understand the importance of effective communication. And the research on the various categories of communicators seems valuable. Like your colleagues, I think this highlights the importance of having a deep understanding of effective communication and emotional intelligence. I look forward to learning more from you as you apply some of these ideas in your coaching work.

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