We all have a personality style, and knowing both our own style and the style of those we interact with can help ensure better outcomes for everybody.
We've all heard of personality profiles - Jerry Clarke does it with colours, Myers Briggs does it with letters and many others do it in quadrants - but they all do the same basic thing, determine personality traits so that we can better understand ourselves and the way we relate to one another.
Who cares - you might say. I do for one and so do many professional communicators.
They understand that it’s not the thoughts they share, products they sell or services they perform that determine the success of their lives and businesses business. It's the relationships they create with people (friends, family, customers, staff and co-workers) that determine their ultimate success.
Simply, a better understanding of the predominant behaviours we naturally exhibit gives us a greater ability to interact more effectively, be more accepting of personality differences and better prepare us for communicating with people who have inherently different needs, communication skills and personality styles.
So let’s look at the 4 main types in a bit more detail - I have labelled them Innovator, Salesman, Worker and Administrator. Jerry Clarke calls them Red, Green, Yellow and Blue whilst the DISC system labels them as Driver, Influencer, Stable and Compliant. The labels are not important - it’s the behaviours that matter.
Innovators are the drivers and entrepreneurs behind every new idea and every new direction. They are usually charismatic, forceful and generally focus on results. They are more interested in what than how and they usually don’t suffer (what they see as) fools very lightly. In the positive form, they're catalysts for change and pioneers who are testing boundaries and seeking new or better ways. In the negative, they can become demanding, righteous, and may exhibit bullying behaviours to ensure they get their own way.
Salesman is, as the name suggests, the talker, the one who will convince you that everything and anything is a good idea (particularly when they benefit). They are the social party animals who are great to be with but who often let you down with unfulfilled promises or over exaggerating expected results. In the positive, they are fun, light and cheer up the room when the chips are down. In the negative, you'll probably be looking at their backs as they head out the door to the next party when things get too heavy or they have to face the responsibilities of paperwork or the burdens of life.
Workers are those steady and reliable people who are always there. They are the ones you can count on to make sure the work gets done. They’re often plodders, carers, selfless angels who put everything and everyone in front of their own needs without thought and without complaint. Sadly they are often the first to be taken advantage of or to get treated as doormats by more selfish individuals. In the positive, they bring calm and steadiness to all situations, they are emotional levellers and the friendly ear for all who require it. In the negative, they can become embittered from feelings of being used and abused and often get sick as a result of constant internalisation of their emotional pain.
Administrators are the highly detailed individuals who both have to know and have to follow rules to the letter so they feel secure. They are often incredibly neat and orderly in every aspect of work and life. They don’t particularly enjoy parties or socialising because of timidity or insecurities. They are usually much happier working alone on the accounts, writing computer programs or tinkering in their ‘shed’ (whatever form that takes). In the positive, they are the ones who make sure everything balances and is compliant with every single letter of the law which is great for finance and all types of roles where attention to detail is a key requirement. In the negative, suspicion, protectiveness and criticism become their weapons to regain order and balance within their worlds.
The benefit from knowing about these differences is;
recognising the styles gives us an opportunity to better select appropriate people (whether friends, colleagues or staff) for roles we are looking to fill.
it offers insights into dominant behavioural styles (ours and others) which enable us to better communicate.
by knowing a person’s reaction is because of style rather than intent helps us remove hasty judgements, misinterpreted perceptions and potential conflict from our interactions.
Because we are all individuals and combine learned behaviour, cultural backgrounds and teachings with emotional needs makes attempting to categorise or label everyone with one particular style a very inexact science that's prone to errors.
We like to think of these tools in the same way we regard horoscopes and weather forecasts - i.e. they are a guide to what things might happen BUT not necessarily (and invariably) not a foolproof formula for dictating what WILL happen.
If you're interested in learning more, we suggest you Google "personality profiling" and do your own research.