Embracing Personalities in the Workplace

Determining your own personality traits will take you that first giant step in dealing with others' personalities.

Determining your own personality traits will take you that first giant step in dealing with others’ personalities.

In the working environment you will encounter every type of person imaginable. Creative, structured, detailed-oriented, free-thinkers, talkers and thinkers – you name it. How do you navigate in an environment so diverse without losing your mind? First, to thine own self be true! Determining your own personality traits will take you that first giant step in dealing with others’ personalities.

Most people have a good idea if they are morning people, talkers or listeners, need a “to do” list, are goal-oriented, dreamers, and so on. However, determining which basic personality type (think of who you were as a child, say before 12 years old) best describes you, can be accomplished with a little more science.

Psychiatrist Carl Jung is credited with recognizing and mapping personality traits – there are more than 16 total combinations – in the early 1900s. Presently, one of the most common tests used to determine individual personality traits is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). * Using the MBTI, there are four ways in which people differ:

  1. Where we prefer to focus our attention – the outside world (extroverted) or in our heads (introverted)
  2. How we prefer to take in and process information – either literally (sensing) or generally (intuition).
  3. How we prioritize information in decision-making – either logical and objective (thinking) or value-based and people-oriented (feeling)
  4. How we prefer to live and work – either scheduled and organized (judging) or spontaneous and flexible (perceiving).**

Just from the above list, you are beginning to determine the basics of your personality traits. In the workplace, it is easy to label, judge or sterotype others based on traits, patterns and behaviors that we readily observe. However, only each individual can decide what their primary personality traits are. And, even these preferences are just that – preferences. Anyone can learn behavior that they don’t necessarily prefer. Most importantly, ALL personality traits have value – no one is “better” than another.

To take a free sample personality test, visit: www.personalitypathways.com. Click the link, “What’s Your Type,” and then Personality Test. After answering a few simple questions, you can obtain a synopsis of your personality trait. Now that you have a more “scientific” understanding of how you operate, you can better navigate your way through the workplace.

Need something more concrete? Show the following images to your co-worker and ask them to quickly pick from the images below the one they like best and their second favorite:



A Square – somebody who feels most comfortable with a stable environment and clear directions on what to do. They are conservative and like things that are regular and orderly. If given a task they will work on it until it is finished, even if it is repetitious, cumbersome and lonely.

A Rectangle – likes structure and regularity. But they will establish it more with organization, meetings, committees and so forth. This will have to be done the proper way, taking all rules and regulations into consideration. If given a task they will start organizing it to be sure it can be done the most systematic way.

A Triangle – goal oriented. They enjoy planning something out and then doing it. They get motivated by the accomplishment. They will tend to look at big long-term issues, but might forget the details. When given a task they will set a goal and work on a plan for it.

A Circle – social and communicative. No hard edges. they handle things by talking about them and smoothing things out with everybody. Communication is the first priority, and making sure there is harmony. When given a task they will talk about it.

A Squiggle – off-the-wall and creative. They feel best doing new and different things most of the time and get bored with regularity. When given a task they will come up with bright ideas about it.

The Square, Rectangle and Triangle are all working towards something specific and finite, and they do it in a logical and systematic way. But they might be lacking in personal creativity.

The Circle and Squiggle are creative, extroverted and intuitive. They will reach out around them into new areas and to other people. But they aren’t particularly systematic or dependable.

For even more detailed information, visit: www.supersonicsquirrel.net. Go to their “Fun Pages (personality).”

*MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Myers Briggs and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States.

**Anita Houghton. Understanding Personality Type: Introduction.www.studentbmj.com/issues/04/10/careers/366.php. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.; c. 2006.


Evelyn Ransom

Evelyn Smith Ransom is still trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up! For now, she is: a wife of 24 years to an Army colonel; a mom to two boys, 24 and 18; two girls, 17 and 13; a kindergarten teacher, an avid reader; a lover of scented candles; and an ever-developing Christian.

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