Personality Types in the Workplace: Recognizing and Working With Different Personalities
Your personality is shaped by your personal experiences, your upbringing, your worldview, and your values. It plays a pivotal role in every relationship: from choosing romantic partners, to best friends.
However, when it comes to discussing your work life, personality is rarely considered. It’s only been in recent years that businesses have tried to focus more on “culture fits” rather than hiring an entirely monotonous staff.
In the past, letting your personality shine might have been seen as a detriment to your career, but that idea has drastically changed in the modern day. More and more, employees are encouraged to find jobs that fit their personality, and to showcase their personality in the office. Unfortunately, preconceived notions about personalities are still a problem, but the best way to combat assumptions is through knowledge.
What does your personality have to do with your career? As it turns out; a whole lot! Knowing yours can help you fine-tune your strengths, manage office stress, and feel more confident. You can even learn to better deal with opposing personalities simply by learning about other’s unique traits. You can also learn more about your manager’s values by identifying their personality.
Once you understand your own personality, you can use that information to further understand your personal strengths and weaknesses. There’s no reason you should have to hide your true self in the office, especially if it can be used to your advantage. Here’s more information about defining your personality, researching it, and how to use that knowledge as an asset in your career:
Table of Contents
Discovering Your Personality
To start, you will need to learn what your personality is at this time. There are plenty of free personality quizzes on the web that can help you identify what you are. However, it’s important to remember that none of these results are final or fixed. Humans are able to adapt and change, and your individual personality can also change and evolve over time. Be cautious to not set limitations on yourself, or on others if they take the test as well. Remind yourself that these tests can help you identify weaknesses or strengths, but are not meant to define you or place limitations on your abilities.
Work Personality Types
Discovering your personality is not as easy as taking an online quiz. Although those quizzes can be fun and insightful, there’s still more to learn about yourself. It’s important to consider how these traits apply to your life, and to think of which ones might need improvement or adjusting.
Defining Temperament vs Personality
As mentioned earlier, personality tests are not meant to put limitations on yourself. However, there are some personality traits that you might find are hard to change. This is due to your fixed personality traits, otherwise known as temperament.
Temperament is often the innate traits that just come naturally to you. One common example is introversion versus extroversion: you’re either someone who recharges with a bit of alone time, or someone who recharges when you surround yourself with good friends and are in a public place. In some ways you might emulate variations or a combination of both traits, but these traits about you are most likely not going to change over time. They just come naturally to you, and you could even argue that you were simply born that way.
On the other end, there’s personality traits, or the more flexible traits that you emulate as a person. These traits often have to do with your education, upbringing, worldview, or experience. They are also much more easy to change and adjust over time.
When it comes to applying your personal strengths and improving your weaknesses, these flexible traits are the ones that you want to focus on. You might not be able to turn yourself from an extrovert into an introvert, but you might be able to work on your emotional intelligence and self-awareness to become a better, more well-rounded employee.
It’s important to note that although we may better understand ourselves, a surface-level impression of someone else does not mean we fully understand their personality. Yes, first impressions in business are very important — they can be the difference between having an excellent interview or being passed over for the job, for example. But there is a lot more to a person that we might not understand simply through a single interaction.
In fact, many people might act “out of character” to us, when really they’re simply acting on their innate traits or temperament. For example, someone who is truly introverted might appear more extroverted at a social event put on by your work. This is because they know it’s expected of them to mingle and act friendly to those they work with. Depending on the different situations a person is in, they might act differently either to fit in or to ensure that they communicate their needs accurately.
Another example you might experience is in company meetings. One person might feel very passionately about a project that pertains to or plays well off their innate traits. This person might even act out of character to better communicate that they are invested in that project and willing to work hard to get it. Although you may be jarred by their sudden change in disposition, just remember that any first impressions you had of that person might have been incomplete. You can never know a person based off of a single interaction, and understanding someone’s personality takes communication, interaction, and time.
Working With Different Personalities
Personalities are important, and they can have a major effect on how we interact with others or on how we base our decisions. However, our personalities are not a cemented box — they can be fluid and changing over time.
This is important to remember for both yourself, and when considering the people you work with on a day-to-day basis. Working with others often means you’ll be forced to work with opposing personalities, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Workplaces would be boring and ineffective if everyone thought and acted the same way.
Diversity and variety are both fuel for innovation and success. Although working with opposing personalities might be challenging, it can be the perfect formula for solving a problem or creating an ingenious new product. Plus, once you have a better idea of other’s personality traits, you can make more educated predictions or how they might react to different scenarios or circumstances.
Knowing Your Manager’s Personality Type
Of course, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome at your job might be working with a manager that has an opposing personality to yours. Coworkers you can avoid when you’re overwhelmed, but managers are more involved with your work and more involved with you as an employee.
Often times, butting heads with a manager can be a dangerous game to play. Your boss has the final say in how projects are finalized or organized, and although diversity of opinion is important, your boss’ final decision will almost always trump yours. Luckily, as you get to know more about your personality, you might be able to find ways to better handle and interact with your manager, as well.
You might not be able to discover the true defining characteristics of your boss’ personality, but you can certainly make educated assumptions if you’ve paid close attention to how they respond to different circumstances.
Of course, your manager could be the one that is unwilling to work with your personality. This can be difficult to accept, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the business. It could be that another manager is more willing to work with you, or that another department is more fitting for your personality and style of work. There will always be options available for you to explore, and if you’ve run out of options at your current employer, then you can always find a new job that better suits you.
Although personalities might clash in the workplace, having many different personalities is what makes a solid and cohesive team. Each person can bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the table, and as single individuals they may have flaws, but all together they make an effective company.
Whether you’re a team leader or simply a member of that team, understanding and adapting to different personalities is an extremely valuable strength to have in any business. Additionally, self-awareness about your own strengths and weaknesses can help you become a better employee and a better person in general.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality in the workplace. Be proud of yourself — both your strengths and even your weaknesses — and use the knowledge you’ve gained about yourself to your advantage in your career.
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Katie McBeth is a researcher and writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. Her favorite subject of study is millennials, and she has been featured on Fortune Magazine and the Quiet Revolution. She researches SEO strategies during the day, and freelances at night. You can follow her writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published April 8, 2018.