Personality Traits 101: It’s Not All About You
We’ve all taken personality tests – either online or part of a corporate training program. They are a great way to see how our personality traits shape how we present to the world as well as how the world sees us.
The problem with these tests is too often we focus solely on our results. While it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses, it’s equally (if not more) important to understand the other personality types. The key to successful communications is adapting your communications style to meet the needs of the other person.
It’s not all about you.
Go beyond you
Years ago, I took my first full day personality traits course. My profile identified me as an extravert feeler. This means I’m outgoing and focus on storytelling versus data (no surprise there).
One of the exercises paired me with my opposite – an introvert thinker. I immediately cursed internally, as this was the most frustrating personality type for me. I could never understand why introverts didn’t blurt out their thoughts in meetings, and assumed their silence meant they had nothing to say.
Boy was I wrong.
So here’s the cool part of the exercise that was a turning point in my career. I was paired with a fire captain who also happened to be an engineer. Yes, this is a man who loved data and details!!!
As we worked through the exercise, which was about discussing our individual communications needs, then adapting how we communicate to meet the other person’s needs, I finally got it. Introvert thinkers do have something to say, but they prefer to formulate their thoughts versus blurting out the first thing that comes to their mind (like I tended to do).
Fast forward a couple of years. I was now the manager of communications for a large municipality and working on a project with the fire chief. Midway through the project, a team member said – “Can I say I’m shocked at how well you two work together? You are complete opposite and I thought there would be conflict. But instead you are great together.”
Can you guess who was the fire chief? Yup, the fire captain I had been paired with during my personality traits course.
We not only remembered being paired up during the exercise, but also used what we had learned about each other to make sure we were communicating in a way that met, or at least respected, the other’s needs.
Since then, whenever I conduct communications training, I always talk about personality traits. Knowing your personality style, and then, taking time to understand the other personality styles. How do they like to receive information? How do they process information? What is the best way to engage them? And what are triggers to avoid that will shut down conversation?
If you are only communicating in the style that meets your personality traits, you are not being fully heard. Think about the needs of your listener, not you!!
I encourage you to set aside time to take a personality test. There are many available online. Review your results, learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. Then set aside time to understand the other personality traits. Review the questions I listed above and try to think about your communications style and how you can adjust it to meet the needs of others.
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