CIOs adopt a variety of personas when they pitch ideas,\n says Jeff Thull, author of Exceptional Selling and\n president of the Prime Resource Group. Instead of helping to\n prove their case, these personas often create barriers to\n effective communication. \u201cWhen you add in the IT\n personality,\u201d says Thull, \u201cdiscussion can quickly\n devolve to an \u2018I\u2019m right, you\u2019re wrong\u2019\n debate.\u201dHere, according to Thull, are five personas CIOs adopt that\n can cause other C-level executives to react negatively.\n\n The Teenager\n Most of our behaviors are learned from interacting with our\n families. If you ever watched an older sibling try to get Dad\n to lend him the car, you saw a presentation that included\n healthy servings of self-justification and whining. According\n to Thull, the less sophisticated a person is about\n communication, the more he draws on these learned behaviors.\n CIOs should be careful to avoid the whiny note when explaining\n their ideas, and they need to communicate the value proposition\n for the whole business.\n\n The Parent\n The flip side of behaving like a teenager is acting like the\n parental unit. Do you remember how Dad and Mom either tried to\n bribe you into cleaning your room or threatened you in the\n thundering tones of absolute authority? CIOs need to remember\n that a) they\u2019re speaking to adults and b) they have no\n special position or authority inside the boardroom. Neither\n wheedling nor bribery nor thundering is going to work.\n\n The Professor\n A lot of IT people assume the role of professor. They act as if\n they have all the answers, and they get frustrated when the\n student (say, the CFO) isn\u2019t learning fast enough.\n Impatience with your peers is always a mistake. If you\u2019re\n trying to convince someone that a new approach or project has\n merit, present the value proposition, outline the risks\n (fairly), and then shut up and let your peers connect the dots.\n They\u2019re usually just as smart as you are.\n\n The Policeman\n If you assume an accusatory tone when speaking with your peers,\n at best they\u2019re going to feel defensive and at worst\n downright annoyed. If something is going wrong, start by asking\n a question. What do they think is the problem? Making it a\n conversation will prevent people from feeling attacked or\n lectured. Remember: No one handed you a badge when you became\n CIO.\n\n The Doctor\n If you must assume a persona, this is probably the best one.\n Prior to prescribing a course of treatment, a doctor makes sure\n the patient understands what\u2019s wrong. If your peers\n aren\u2019t aware that there\u2019s a problem, they\n won\u2019t be receptive to the cure. Someone with high\n cholesterol doesn\u2019t know it until he sees the results of\n the blood test, so it\u2019s important that CIOs have metrics\n to make their case. But don\u2019t carry this persona too far.\n Your peers will not wait months to see you or sit in your\n waiting room while you practice your putting.Margaret Locher is a freelance writer based in the\n Boston area.