Report Support Article Written by Torri Olanski
If you've been interpreting Birkman for a while now, you may have noticed that there are some Interests that almost everyone wants to say "yes" to. For example, it seems like everyone wants to help others, everyone enjoys being outside, and everyone loves listening to music! These are three Interests that, on the surface, most people want to and expect to have a high Interest in, yet this is only the case about half of the time. Let’s explore these three Interests and get to the core of what each one is measuring so you can have a richer, more meaningful discussion in these areas.
Let's look at three examples: Outdoor, Musical, and Social Service.
Often, individuals are surprised when they see a low Outdoor Interest score on their report. This initial reaction isn’t surprising, as most people do have fun being outside! Plus, there are many health benefits to time spent in nature. A lot of people enjoy being outside, but not all people want to work in the outdoors.
The Outdoor Interest reveals how much an individual enjoys occupational activities or projects related to physical movement and exposure to natural elements. Examples may be careers such as landscaping, forestry, fire-fighting, and transportation. Those with high Interests are people who will likely prefer field-based jobs or careers that require outdoor work. The key word here is require. For example, working outdoors on your laptop at a café in the perfect weather would not constitute work that requires being done outside. For individuals with low outdoor interests, this is likely the type of “outdoor work” that they enjoy.
If an individual is pushing back on their low Outdoor Interest, ask them the following questions:
- Do you like indoor activities and urban settings?
- Do you appreciate working in comfortable, indoor office environments?
- Do you prefer work that involves mental exertion as opposed to physical exertion?
- When you are outside, is it important that you are pursuing other activities or Interests that you enjoy?
- Might your appreciation of being outside be related to how nice the scenery is, the activity you are pursuing, or the people you are with?
The first tip to remember for the Outdoor Interest, as well as all the Birkman Interests, is that this data is related to occupational, career-related, activities. The next time someone says they have a high Outdoor Interest because they enjoy going skiing in the Alps, ask them if they’d like to be the person operating the lift.
This same concept holds true for the Musical Interest. Almost 99% of people feel an attachment to music, either because it allows them to express their emotions or take them back to a special memory or person. For this reason, at first glance many individuals are often surprised when they see a low Musical Interest on their report.
For individuals with a truly high Musical Interest, they will be motivated to work in an occupation related to or connected to the music industry. These people often appreciate involvement with the craft of music, including melodies, compositions, concerts, or supporting the musical arts. They likely have a desire to work in an industry that is connected to music or entertainment.
For individuals who may be pushing back on their low Musical Interest, ask them:
- Are you interested in the composition of music?
- Do you enjoy playing a musical instrument or being involved in musical groups or choirs?
- Do you have a desire for music to be a part of your professional career?
The second tip that is important to keep in mind is that an individual may think they have a high Interest in a certain area due to an influence from other elements of their personality.
For example, an individual may think they have a high Musical interest if…
- Their high Literary Interest makes them deeply appreciate the lyrics of songs.
- Their high numerical Interest draws them toward the precision and accuracy required when playing a musical instrument.
- Their high Emotional Energy connects them to the emotional expression that music allows for.
And finally, Social Service. For this Interest, I’ve seen many people discouraged and in disbelief by their low Social Service Interest because they dedicated most of their life to helping others and would do anything for someone in need. Now, instead of telling this person that, if you had a higher Social Service Interest you would have helped them even more, here’s a better response to their dismay.
When an individual is looking at their Social Service Interest, what they are seeing is their motivation toward personally helping or advocating for others, through means such as counselling, teaching, or volunteering. The individual with a high Social Service Interest will enjoy personally helping others even if there is no practical outcome guaranteed. Some of the occupations related to Social Service include nurse, therapist, social worker, and teacher.
For individuals with low Social Service Interests, ask them
- Are you drawn toward roles that involve helping others through tangible, practical outcomes?
- Do you prioritize the business as a whole over individuals’ personal issues?
- Do you expect self-sufficiency from others?
Most people are drawn toward helping others, but we’re all going to go about helping other people in ways that align with our personalities. For individuals who disagree with their low Social Service interest, ask them how they enjoy or tend to help and serve others. What you will likely find is that the ways in which they serve others is in more tangible ways, outcome-oriented ways that are likely related to their other Interests and behaviors.
As you can see, there are many different layers and aspects that can impact an individual’s Interests. If you are feeling stuck in a Birkman conversation, focus on the fact that Birkman Interests are first and foremost occupational Interests. They are going to impact what we want to do outside of work, but it can be important to keep in mind that the data is rooted in what types of careers an individual is motivated to pursue. Good luck and keep your conversations interesting!