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Understanding Different Personalities in the Workplace

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Sometimes opposing personalities work well together, and sometimes they don’t.

The workplace is one place where this reality can play out because many people work in a space where different work styles, communication skills and character traits can easily collide.

It’s important not to take conflict too personally, said Laura Davis, founder and CEO of Laura A. Davis & Associates. “Understand your co-worker’s needs based on personality style and structure your message in a way that communicates in a more understandable way for this person.”

Davis is an International Coach Federation master certified executive coach and master facilitator. She works with individuals, teams and organizations to increase leaders’ emotional intelligence, create more cohesive teams and build high trust and high performance cultures. She is an expert of the DiSC personality profile.

Personality is a sensitive topic because of the conflict that can arise from differences. How can you work with differing communication and work styles among your employees and still make the most out of each person’s unique personality?

We’ve put together four common workplace personalities and tips for managing each one. From big-picture players to analytical employees, this article will explore these various styles and provide tips for working alongside someone with a personality style different from your own.

The “I never met a stranger” employee

The “I never met a stranger” employee is enthusiastic and encourages people to work together. This co-worker has a natural skill for working with people, prefers to work in group settings and craves social acceptance. Employees with this personality style have an ability to inject creativity into problem-solving and are big-picture people with a diplomatic outlook.

The “I never met a stranger” employee, however, may be disorganized and lack attention to detail. He or she may also have selective hearing and filter ideas to hear only what they want to hear.

Managing the “I never met a stranger” employee

Be personable and develop rapport with employees of this personality type. The “I never met a stranger” style thrives on creativity, so try to be open to new ideas when around them. They also work well in social settings, so utilize this skill in team settings to encourage others and synthesize different ideas to develop a solution.

The driver

Driver employees are direct in their communication style, which may be perceived as forceful by fellow employees. Drivers add innovation and a clear focus to the bottom line. Employees with this personality style are also unafraid of challenging traditions and thrive on winning, power and authority. Drivers fear vulnerability and may be limited by their indifference and lack of patience toward others and ideas that don’t appear to contribute to the bottom line.

Managing drivers

Be direct and brief in your communication style with drivers and focus on results instead of the social atmosphere. Business is the biggest motivating factor for drivers, so focus on accomplishing a task and solving problems rather than if or how something will work. It’s also a good idea to approach ideas from a big-picture perspective rather than focusing on small details to tap into a driver’s strength.


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“Steady Eddies”

“Steady Eddies” are calm employees considered to be the anchors of the workplace. They provide support and are valued for their stability and ability to listen. They are team players, dependable employees and are respected for their empathic personalities. This personality style has the ability to resolve conflict while also working well within the confines of authority. “Steady Eddies” are motivated by stability and genuine appreciation. They may fear a lack of security, and may have trouble prioritizing tasks.

How to manage “Steady Eddies”

You should try to build an authentic rapport with this personality style in order to gain their trust. When giving instructions, add clarification as well as specific details. The stable nature of the “Steady Eddie” personality style may lead to difficulty responding to change. So if change happens, explain why, and give these employees time to make the adjustment. Patience will also be key in dealing with this personality style, so avoid aggressiveness, strong demands and confrontational communication.

The perfectionist

Perfectionist employees are conscientious individuals with an eye for precision. They are detail-oriented and reserved, while also maintaining high expectations. Perfectionists are motivated by the opportunity to help, the chance to learn and use their expertise and the chance to focus on developing a quality project. Perfectionists keep teams grounded and are thorough in gathering, analyzing and testing information. Perfectionists fear individuals who lack attention to detail, criticism and not being correct. They also run the risk of being overly analytical.

Managing perfectionists

While preparation should be standard practice, it will be vital to successfully communicating with a perfectionist. Research and ideas supported with facts and data will help the analytical perfectionist fully digest and understand what’s being communicated to them. Also focus on details and be prepared to explain how they fit into the bigger picture. Logical thinking and diplomacy are respected by perfectionists, and if you disagree with them, again, support your points with facts rather than personal examples.

Co-workers and management can also learn to observe others’ tendencies and use this information to develop their own skills to better communicate with perfectionists and other personality styles.

The bottom line

It’s important to not take conflict personally in the workplace. Understand that your employees have different needs based on their personality styles, and then structure your message in a way that will resonate best with each type of employee. Being aware of the different personality types (and adjusting accordingly) can make for a peaceful working environment.


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