Discover Yourself – Adapting to the Style of Others

One of the advantages of knowing one’s own personality type and being aware of the other personality types that might be encountered is evident in a business setting. Those in management positions have the most authority to force others to adapt to their own style – but to get the best from their workers, it actually benefits managers to adapt to others to some extent. For a productive team and a harmonious environment, it is a good idea for leaders to learn techniques to accommodate the preferences and personality types of those around them.

Today I’ll be sharing some practical tips on how managers can adapt to the style of others.

Communication Method

One big differentiator between various personality types in a work setting is their preferred method of communication. Introverted people often prefer to communicate through email, as it allows them time and space to process information and formulate a cogent response in their own time. Extroverted people, especially those who like to think out loud in a collaborative way, will often prefer to stop by someone else’s office in order to discuss an issue and get input on it. People who are highly skilled at multitasking may prefer talking on the phone so that they can accomplish some other small tasks while discussing a topic.

Of course, business necessities will always trump personal preferences. If a manager needs an answer immediately, then they are going to drop by others’ offices or call them to save time. If employees work remotely, then email will be the default. However, outside of these necessities, it is advisable for managers to be flexible. If they know that a given employee will give their best response to a query via email, then it makes sense to allow them to use that communication method where possible.

Communication Style

Another related issue is the complexities of communication style. This is an issue in which many people lack self-awareness, which is why it is important for managers to be proactive in addressing this topic. Some people, particularly those who are strongly focused on tasks, will want to know only the essential information that they require in order to complete their job. Giving these people more detail when communicating will only confuse or frustrate them. Other people, particularly those who are focused on relationships, will want to understand the part that their role plays in the bigger picture. Therefore, they will appreciate being furnished with all of the details of a situation even if it doesn’t directly affect them.

Managers who take note of the personality types of their employees can communicate with them more clearly by giving the appropriate level of detail for that personality type. A manager might choose to give a few key bullet points versus explaining an issue in depth, for example, depending on the preferences of the people they are addressing. When a manager needs to address a number of people, such as when emailing a group, then for maximum clarity they can include both: have bullet points with the essential information at the top, and then a section with additional information at the bottom. This way, the readers of the email can pick the appropriate level of communication for themselves.

Meetings

A challenge of the modern office is the dreaded meeting. Meetings are essential for conducting many aspects of business successfully, but they can be draining and are rarely enjoyed by all of the participants. When looked at in terms of personality type, this dislike of meetings is unsurprising. With multiple different personality types in one room trying to make progress all together, it is almost inevitable that there will be difficulties.

Managers have the chance to set the expectations and tone for meetings, and to moderate to make them more productive and helpful for everyone involved. The first step to a more productive meeting is to set goals clearly: is the purpose of the meeting to brainstorm, to plan, or to troubleshoot? Knowing the goal will help keep participants on track and allow different personality types to approach the topic in their own way. Also, is a meeting actually required? If the purpose of the meeting is purely to update others, for example, then this is best accomplished by sending out an email instead of gathering everyone together.

The second step is to send out an agenda for the meeting in advance. This will allow introverts to plan what they want to say, rather than forcing them to make off-the-cuff comments. The third step can be accomplished as a part of the agenda or as an in-person introduction, and that is to have a clear structure for the meeting. For example, first go around in a circle to share ideas or opinions without interruptions, and then have a free-for-all discussion session. This structure will help the more rigid team members know when to give input, and the more go-with-the-flow team members can thrive in the free discussion session.

Presenting, Teaching, and Workshopping

When it comes to presenting to a group, being aware of other personality styles can be a challenge. There are distinctly different learning styles as well as personality styles to consider, but a presenter will not always have a lot of information about a group’s styles before talking to them. Learning styles can include a preference for auditory material, written material, group discussion, or active engagement for best learning.

However, this needn’t be an insurmountable problem. Presenters already tend to use different teaching modalities – i.e. they talk to the group which is ideal for auditory learners, and they use slides which are good for visual learners. To make a presentation more accessible for other learning styles, presenters can set aside some time for group work and for practical hands-on work as well. These two new modalities will help those who learn best by talking an issue through with others or who learn by doing. Combining this approach to presenting and teaching with a personality-based approach for communication and meetings can enable managers to get the most from their employees.

To learn more about personality styles and how knowledge about them can benefit managers, visit www.discoveryourself.com.

Jungian Psychology: The Eight Attitudinal Functions

In the last post we talked about the four colors approach to personality, and how these four colors relate to eight personality types. Today we’re going to dig into the work of Carl Jung to learn more about the eight personality types and the cognitive functions that they are based on.

The Types of Cognitive Function

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung worked on the topic of psychological types back in the 1920s, and much of the field of personality types today is still based on his work. He looked at the essential cognitive functions, and proposed that there were two diametrically opposed pairs: rational, judging functions of thinking and feeling, and irrational, perceiving functions of sensation and intuition. The idea behind this distinction is that the judging functions are matters of assessment that require decision making, while the perceiving functions are related to gathering information from the world.

The Four Cognitive Functions

Jung went on to define in depth the four cognitive functions – two judging functions and two perceiving functions. The essential characteristics of the four functions are as follows:

  • Sensation – This is what you probably imagine when you think of the word ‘sensation.’ It refers to perception through our senses, such as us absorbing information about the world through touch, taste, sight, etc.
  • Intuition – This refers to background processes of our mind that we may not be aware of, such as unconscious drives or intuitions about the beliefs, desires, and motivations of other people.  It is a “knowing” of information
  • Thinking – This refers to the rational analysis of data and the applying of logic to questions in order to draw meaningful conclusions. It is related to intellectual cognition, meaning the use of logical analysis.
  • Feeling – This is not the experiencing of emotion that you might expect, but rather refers to subjective estimations and the making of decisions about value. The function is still considered rational in that it is a form of assessment, but the object of that assessment is a subjective state. It is making decisions based on feelings, and relationships.

Introversion and Extraversion

Another key aspect of Jung’s model was the distinction between introversion and extraversion (sometimes spelled as ‘extroversion’). Jung believed that these two attitudes represented the ‘direction’ in which each of the four cognitive functions could be turned.

An introverted function is one that is turned inward, meaning that it operates within the interior world of thoughts and reflection. An extroverted function is one that is turned outward, meaning that it operates in the realm of the exterior world of behavior, actions, things, and other people. People who tend towards introversion gain energy from time spent alone, are thought oriented, and like to contemplate first and act later. People who tend towards extraversion gain energy from being around others, are action oriented, and are more likely to act first and reflect later.

Eight Psychological Types

The concept of eight psychological types comes from combining the four cognitive functions with the two attitudes. Each function can be expressed in an extraverted or introverted form, and people will be led by one function and one attitude to form their dominant personality type. This gives us a total of eight psychological types:

  • Extraverted Sensation – Someone who lives in the moment, taking information from the world and acting on concrete data. They pay attention to opportunities to act and they value new experiences. They tend to notice details and work with what is available to them.
  • Introverted Sensation – A person who takes information from the world but compares it to past experiences before acting. They rely on the past to guide them and look for links between past and present experiences. They tend to have good memories and store information for later use.
  • Extraverted Intuition – Someone who isn’t constrained by the current way of doing things – they look for how the world could be instead of accepting how it is. They value meaning and look for flashes of insight that tie together ideas from different contexts, and they see connections in the external world.
  • Introverted Intuition – This person will follow their own internal framework and fit ideas and thoughts into this framework in a consistent way, though their thoughts may be hard for someone else to follow. They think about how the future will unfold and use intuition to plot future outcomes from current situations.
  • Extraverted Thinking – A highly logical person who likes structure and seeks consistency from others and the world. This person follows the rules and sets boundaries, and they use guidelines to assess whether something is working or not. They organize efficiently and according to parameters.
  • Introverted Thinking – This person is also logical and seeks consistency, but they are far more concerned with adhering to their internal framework than with external rules. They analyze and categorize, identifying inconsistencies and they achieve precision through careful definitions of terms.
  • Extraverted Feeling – A person who values harmony and connection with others, who likes acting as part of a group, and who values social ties and promotes the comfort of others. They care about maintaining the values of groups and organizations and are willing to adjust in order to accommodate the needs of others. When they make decisions they take into mind what is acceptable and appropriate.
  • Introverted Feeling – Someone who cares deeply about values and who strives to act only in ways that are in line with their personal values. They review and evaluate actions and thoughts based on their underlying truths and are willing to stand up for truth and accuracy.

Naturally, all of us have the potential to use all these different attitudes depending on the context and our training and background. But Jung believed that each person has a dominant function which they prefer to use when thinking and acting. To find out more about how these attitudes are used in practice in personality testing, come back soon as our next post will compare two popular personality assessment tools.  And you can always learn more at www.discoveryourself.com, or www.scottstedtalk.com

How Psychometric Testing Can Help You Build Stronger Teams


You may have heard about the use of personality tests, or psychometric testing, in business contexts in order to achieve a higher standard of management and team building. Today we’re going to look at what these tests measure and the ways that they can bring business benefits to your team.

Why study personality?
The theories of personality psychology may be interesting to read about, but more than this they can provide concrete advice on how to work more effectively. Psychometric testing can be used to give insights which enable people to gain self-understanding, letting them be more aware of their personality style and strengths and weaknesses. From this information, people can learn better strategies for interactions with others based on the specific needs of each personality type.

In a business context, psychometric testing can bring distinct benefits to your team. You can adapt your management style to bring out the best from each member of your team by finding the correct motivation and communication style for them. And by sharing the insights into personality that you gain with your team, they can interact with each other in a more effective and productive way as well.

Types of personality tests
As complicated as humans are, there are many different ways to measure and define personality. In academic contexts, personality is most frequently analyzed in terms of the degree to which a person displays the ‘big five’ personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Another style of psychometric testing which is popular among the public and in some business contexts is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) system, which is based on the theories of Carl Jung. The MBTI assigns personality to a pole from each of the dichotomies of sensing/intuition, feeling/thinking, introversion/extroversion, and perception/judging.

The Insights Discovery profile system that we use at Discover Yourself is also based on the work of Jung, but with greater detail than MBTI and with profiles that are optimized to provide information for management contexts. Each Insights profile will give concrete advice on communicating with, managing, and motivating the person, as well as information on how the person would manage others.

The benefits of personality testing
The advantage of personality testing is that it gives you a set of tools with which to think about yourself. Do you interact best working alone in a small team or do you thrive in a large group? Do you prefer a high level of organization with rigid structures, or are you more comfortable in a flexible situation where you can respond quickly to new information? Do you communicate most effectively in a written, visual, or oral form? These are the kinds of insights that you can clarify with personality testing.

When it comes to personality testing in business, the creation of a space in which people can express their preferences is a tremendous boon. Perhaps a team member finds phone calls stressful and would prefer to be emailed when possible. Or a manager likes to be looped in on all relevant emails by their staff, even if they are not directly involved in the discussion, so that they can maintain an overview of their team. In the work world there are rarely opportunities for members of teams to frankly discuss their personal preferences, and personality testing enables and supports these conversations to give your team confidence when interacting with each other.

Understanding personality test data
If you are considering using psychometric testing to gather information on your team, there are a few key issues to remember. Most important is the understanding that results from psychometric tests are descriptive, not prescriptive. This means that personality data can describe the ways in which a person will tend towards thinking and interacting with others, but does not provide strict rules about how a person will always behave. Each person is different, and while personality testing can be used for broad general information about personality types, individual differences will always be present. This means that personality tests should be used as guidelines and inspiration for experimentation with new communication styles, and not taken to represent a fundamental and unchangeable part of a person.

Further, psychometric tests like MBTI and Insights rely on people’s own judgment of themselves and their self-reporting of these judgments. Therefore the results will only be as accurate as a person’s honesty and self-insight. This is in some ways a strength of the format, as it stems from the belief that people know themselves best. But in some testing scenarios, there is also the opportunity for people to bring in the insights of their colleagues or friends to give them information on how they are perceived by others as well as how they perceive themselves, which can improve accuracy and the applicability of the test results.

Personality data and your team

Once you have personality data about your team, you can use this to optimize and improve your team interactions. Some people erroneously believe that there is one personality type that is best suited to business, or that a team needs to be made up of similar personalities in order to be successful. But this is not the case: a team benefits from a variety of personality types interacting. You can benefit from having both outgoing, social and communicative extroverts as well as thoughtful, interior-focused and introverted members for different tasks. As a manager you can assign roles based on differing strengths, such as assigning your extroverts to client management or networking tasks and assigning detail-oriented conceptual work that needs to be performed by one person to the more introverted members of your team.

Finally, consider the value of understanding not just personality types in isolation, but also knowing how these types will interact with other personality types. With detailed personality profiles like the Insight, you’ll see information on the opposite types of a given personality as well as advice on how that personality will interact with managers and with other colleagues. Being able to predict how your team members will interact with others will allow you to assign duties in a way that maximizes your team’s chances of success.

Find out more about psychometric testing and how personality data can help you to build a stronger team at Discover Yourself: http://discoveryourself.com/

Changing The Way You Approach Cool And Detached People

insights-colour-quadrant-cool-blueIt’s important to be self aware for not only your benefit, but also for the benefit of the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis.  It may shock you to learn that when you’re at your best and doing your best work, others may be seeing you at your worst.  Perception is reality, so it’s important to have a grasp on how others perceive you.

In starting off the next four blogs on the Insights Colors, I want to start with Cool Blue energy.  People with a high level of Cool Blue energy, are introverted and have a desire to know and understand the world.  Does this sound like you or someone you know?  If this sounds like you, you like to think before you act and maintain a detached, objective standpoint.  You value independence and intellect.  You prefer written communication in order to maintain clarity and precision, which allows you to analyze the information to your heart’s content. 

Qualities in energies are both positive and negative; it just depends on who perceives them.  Cool Blue is, by definition, detached and takes its time to think.  Imagine how an opposite such as Fiery Red or Sunshine Yellow might perceive Cool Blue if they don’t know the energy’s analytical tendencies; they might view this energy as uncaring and, well, cool!  Meanwhile, Cool Blue cares deeply about the issue at hand and is doing some deep and profound thinking while gathering as much information as it can to make an educated decision.  In this example, Cool Blue’s opposites see Cool Blue at its worst when it is actually at its best.  Eventually Cool Blue will present its findings and will blow away Fiery Red and Sunshine Yellow’s misconceptions, but think about how much time and energy could be saved if the opposite energies understood Cool Blue’s process.  It’s not that Sunshine Yellow and Fiery Red are wrong in their actions, but had Cool Blue been self aware and been able to explain how it processes information, Cool Blue energy may have been given ample time to think and prepare for when the time came to make a decision.  In other words, we can’t control how other energies treat us, but we can help them to understand us so their perception of us isn’t too far off base.

If miscommunications like the example listed above are all too common in your company or organization, learn more by connecting with me, Scott Schwefel, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Share this blog with the people you wish understood you a little better!     

Understanding Different Personalities

small_2137737248

Personalities are an interesting thing.  Everyone has one, yet everyone’s personality is uniquely different.  We know this; it’s common sense, yet it’s difficult to apply this in the work place when we come across a coworker with a personality that doesn’t mesh with our own.  Learning how to deal with personalities so completely different than our own is important for success in our careers, but also necessary to ensuring a happy life; and a productive and harmonious work environment, after all, we spent most of our waking hours with our coworkers, shouldn’t we have great relationships with them?

Two personalities that may encounter friction in the work place might be, as defined by Insights Discovery, earth green energy and fiery red energy.  Each personality has their strengths and weaknesses, but two personalities that are exact opposites may have a more difficult time understanding why they do the things they do.  For instance, earth green energy has a tendency to be more introverted than people with fiery red energy.  While fiery red energy does their best work thinking out loud and taking action to solve problems, earth green energy is doing their best work when they are quiet and thoughtfully considering how to solve a problem.  This may not seem like it would present a challenge, except for when red energy thinks green energy is daydreaming, rather than taking action, and green energy thinks red energy is taking action too quickly, without considering all the ramifications.  

Consider two employees on the same team in a company, one leads with red energy and one leads with green energy.  During meetings it may appear to green energy, that red energy thinks she is running the show even though the two employees are supposed to be working together.  Red energy talks nonstop and, not wanting to interrupt, green energy can hardly get a word in edgewise, and possibly is given no time to think through all the possibilities, and how people’s needs are being met. From red energy’s perspective, green energy is just sitting there reflecting, while red energy is coming up with some great ideas and taking immediate action. If green isn’t going to engage, then red better take action!  And on it goes…

Think how much more collaborative and productive these employees would be if they understood how each other worked through problems, and leveraged the best of both personalities together.

If this sounds like some meetings in your company, it might be time to explore how understanding personalities will benefit your team members.  As a keynote speaker and facilitator on Insights Discovery, I deliver this information in a fun, easy to understand and remember way, making it easily applicable back in day-to-day life.  For more information on Insights Discovery, follow me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter