Your Personality—Friend or Enemy? (The Answer Is Yes!)

Who Are You?

Your Personality—Friend or Enemy? (The Answer Is Yes!)

One way to describe our personality is to say that it is made up of our patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. When we show up at work, we are bringing these patterns with us, and to the extent that they are useful, we can be successful. To the degree that these patterns create blind spots, cause disconnects, and keep us from succeeding, we need a means to understand them and then ways to create change.

Sample scenario #1: Demarco is a very accommodating dude. Known for his easygoing manner, he believes that getting along with everyone has the highest value. Problem is, Demarco frequently finds himself not getting what he needs at work because he does not take an assertive stance.

Sample scenario #2: Ethel has no problems letting anyone know just exactly what she thinks or what she feels. While her frank statements and candid sharing can be refreshing, she often fails to notice when others need space, or that her timing can be off.

Why will this help me at work? If you’re not aware of your personality and its patterns, then you are at risk for being less effective, for projecting your unresolved muck onto others, for finding fault and blame with those around you, and for feeling like you have no good options. When we focus on what we can do to improve ourselves, not only do we get better, but we also serve to model exactly the behavior and approach we want to experience from others. Funny how that works!

Why is this so difficult at times? The very patterns that can serve us well sometimes can be over-utilized in situations where another response would work better. However, we still cling to those patterns because of the successes they’ve brought us in the past. Demarco gets high marks for his relaxed style. Ethel’s candor is appreciated at times. If it works, why look at it differently or change it? Given various situations, we need a variety of responses to be effective, but we may not have had the opportunity to see new ways and practice them.

Your frank self-assessment:

What are the patterns that have created difficulties for you in the past?

Do “automatic responses” emerge that you wish you could temper or adjust?

Where have you received either supportive or harsh feedback about your blind spots?

My Tips: 

  • Check out one of the popular assessment instruments, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© or DISC© to have a reference point on your personality type. Keep in mind, though, that we don’t all fit neatly into sixteen boxes of personality types. These tools are a starting point, not an ending one.
  • Google “Johari’s Window.” Find a trusted colleague or friend who knows you at work to provide you with honest feedback on what your “Hidden Self” and “Unknown Self” look like to her.
  • Go on a “listening tour,” where you ask colleagues, coworkers, and (if you dare) family members something along the lines of “If you observe things that I do that inadvertently have a negative impact on our relationship, or keep me from getting what I need, would you be willing to share those perceptions with me?

Action for traction:

  • If you had a magic wand and you could modify three elements of your personality so that you could be more effective at work, what would they be? Take one element from your “magic wand” list, and without negative judgment, track how often it shows up in a week by simply observing it as it occurs.
  • Set up some reminders for yourself so that you can be more aware in the moment (e.g., “When I start fidgeting in my chair, it means that I am becoming impatient and don’t want to listen anymore”).
  • What are the specific choices you can make in terms of how to do things differently once you have that awareness? (“I can find a way to truly listen to the other and not be so impatient.”)

Baked-in benefits:

  • We have the direct experience that we are not “swept along” by our old unhelpful patterns.
  • We provide positive modeling to others to look at and take responsibility for their contributions.
  • We reinforce our own commitment to growth and change.

If you are interested in exploring this more, do work with individuals around business relationships, workplace transitions, and professional development. Please contact me for more info.

Excerpt From: Flip Brown. “Balanced Effectiveness at Work.” Apple Books.