Differing Personality Styles Add Spice to the Workplace

Edmonton Counselling Resources

When you know what your core values and needs are, and feel good about them, you can perform at your highest potential in every area of life. And when you share a working, mutual understanding of others’ core values and needs, you have the basis to communicate motivate, and achieve common goals with utmost dignity, efficacy, and mutual respect.
Don Lowry, creator of True colors (2001)

People naturally tend to try to understand and predict our world. The art of identifying different personality styles has been studied and enhanced over the years. Why? Well, for business, matching the right person to the right job leads to success. Understanding personality styles improves employee performance by helping people recognize and focus on their strengths. As well, employee conflict decreases when people are able to understand and accept differing personality and work styles in their office. Today, businesses attempt to identify people that will fit well into their organization and their leadership positions through determining a prospective employee’s personality style.

The Four Types

Classifying personality types is an ancient art which began with Hippocrates who distinguished four different types of personality styles—or humors. You’ve probably heard of the following types: the Sanguine (buoyant, cheerful, optimist), the Choleric (angry, cantankerous, testy), the Phlegmatic (lethargic, indifferent, passive), and the Melancholic (dejected, gloomy, sad). Since then many researchers have studied personality types. Carl Jung, a very influential psychologist, also characterized personalities into four types: Extroverted or Introverted, Sensing or Intuitive, Feeling or Thinking, Judging or Perceiving. Don Lowry, with his True Colors system, has since adapted these types further with more user-friendly terminology and descriptions that are very applicable to everyday life. According to True Colors your personality would be typed in terms of four colors: Orange – social, Greens – analytical, Blues – compassionate, Gold – organized.

Who are You?

A person cannot choose wisely for a life unless he dares to listen to himself, his own self, at each moment in life.
Abraham Maslow

There is strong evidence to indicate that the key to success in business is to have employees focus on their strengths, according to Gregory Huszczo in his book Making a Difference (2009). Enabling people to recognize the structure and type of work in which they will likely excel through the use of these personality tests seems to be critical. For example, people with a “Gold” personality are very detail orientated and do well in a setting that requires precision. “Blues” are people-oriented, who excel when they enjoy the camaraderie of group work in a non-competitive teambuilding atmosphere. “Oranges” welcome change, are good at multitasking and problem solving. “Greens” like to be intellectually stimulated and prefer clear expectations. Even beyond a business perspective, it seems to make sense in all kinds of areas that a person excels where his talents and strengths lie.

I’m OK, you’re OK

Understanding and accepting one’s own personality and learning about other styles helps people recognize and adjust to the personalities of others. We tend often to be limited by our own narrow perspective, viewing others negatively when they differ from ourselves. And we often label them as “wrong” when they make choices different from the choices we would make. Rather than labelling others as “bad”, we can learn to appreciate these differences when we are educated about diverse personality styles. Alternative styles, offering differing perspectives may be viewed as valuable and enriching. Instead of seeing an “Orange” as “not serious”, they can be viewed as “fun loving” people that bring joy into a workplace. Understanding personality styles also has implications about how best to communicate with different people. For example, “Blues” need to be acknowledged before work orders are given. “Golds” work well when they know exactly what is expected of them, and do not appreciate surprises.

Variety is the Spice of Life

A variety of personality styles on a team stimulates diverse thinking. If everyone agrees, who would stimulate new ideas? Rigidity, lack of creativity, lack of direction can all result from too much similarity. A good leader recognizes that a variety of personality styles makes up an effective team, and will build a team with a diverse group of people. A manager with particular needs in the organization may want to hire a person with a personality style to suit those needs. For example, a leader who is high “Orange” may want a complement like having a details oriented “Green” assistant who offers more structure. But a morale boosting “Blue” could be just what your company needs to facilitate peace.

Recognizing differing personality styles has been purported for centuries as a means for helping people understand and relate to each other. Valuing diversity creates an atmosphere of growth and has implications for hiring. It feels good to be esteemed for who you are, rather than trying to conform to what others think you should be. And finding out what your personal strength and tendencies are will go a long way to enhancing your ability to reach your full potential.

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