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10 tips to working with different personality types

Nov 14, 2018
BY FIONA BUCKLEY

Different personality types can account for one of the biggest cause of clashes in the office. If people adopt a my-way-or-the-highway attitude, it can lead to serious difficulties in workplace relationships and cause high-level conflict and frustration across teams. If we take some positive steps to proactively deal with different personality types, all sorts of issues can often be avoided.

Here are ten tips to working with all different personalities in the workplace:

  1. Know your own personality preference. This involves possibly taking a personality test, obtaining feedback and regular reflection. An African proverb once said, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can do you no harm”. If you truly know yourself well and are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, then you should know your limitations. This is about truly developing your self-awareness at the highest possible level.
  2. Undertake and attend training to become more aware and attuned to other personality preferences that are different to your own. Being able to recognise personality types will help you adjust your own approach.
  3. You can’t change your personality but you can temporally adapt and flex your personality into other personality types when the situation calls for same. Be open to adapting when needed.
  4. Read and observe body language more closely. You can often obtain more information from non-verbal communication initially.
  5. Develop your blind spots and work on your own personality limitations. There is no such thing as a perfect personality. For example, an extrovert could have a blind spot when it comes to active listening and can be guilty of talking too much in some situations.
  6. Respect different personalities and remember that opposites attract. There is no one ‘right’ way of doing things – there are many different approaches to get to the end result and each different personality will take a different journey. This is where creativity and innovation will come alive in your office. If we were all to approach things the same way, the world would be a very boring place. Respect diversity.
  7. Be aware of ‘similar to me’ bias where you end up hiring people that are similar to yourself and only make an effort to work with people with whom you more readily identify. If we continually fall back on this approach, we become more narrow-minded in our thinking.
  8. Be patient and jump into the shoes of the other person regularly. See the project or situation from a different perspective and work on developing your empathy.
  9. Stop comparing yourself to other people. This is a hallmark trait of resilience. Personality begins when comparison ends.
  10. Challenge yourself to have that cup of coffee with the person who frustrates you the most. You might be surprised to find out you have more in common with that person than you think and the different way that you approach things is the actual issue.

Personality cannot be viewed in isolation. There is a whole host of other contextual factors that wrap around personality, such as: organisational culture, overall confidence, history between people, length of service and experience, individual coping mechanisms, resilience levels and emotional intelligence to name a few.

Figuring out how to work with our own personality and those around us is a life-long journey. 

Fiona Buckley is an executive coach and trainer. She will be teaching the course
Personality types: understanding yourself & others in the workplace at Chartered Accountants House on 6 December.