This is a guest post by Kerry Bezzanno.
Ever wonder why people do what they do? Has your own behavior ever driven you crazy? Like, why deadlines may be the infernal bane of your existence no matter how many times you swear to yourself—clenching your fist to the sky à la Scarlett O’Hara— “I’ll never pull another all-nighter again!”
Human behavior—especially our own—has been perplexing us since antiquity, but gaining a bit more awareness about what makes you (and others) tick may just give us some much needed insight to make tomorrow a better day—for both ourselves as consultants and our clients.
Knowing the quirks of our own personality—and the inherent traits associated with other personality types—can help foster a better understanding of not only how we, ourselves, work and communicate but how others do as well. This can:
- Provide important clues (and solutions) for navigating the trickier aspects of client relations, particularly if you have to work with teams or committees.
- Help reduce or circumvent conflict and open up avenues for finding areas of compromise.
- Provide us with hints as to how we can manage our projects better, handle and manage stress as well as demonstrate stronger leadership.
What tools are available?
One way to gain greater self-awareness is to take a personality test. And the Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator (MBTI®) is one tool that can help shed light on how you tend to lead and make decisions, communicate with others and approach work based on your personality type.
There are several free online versions of these tests you can try for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®:
The basics of personality type (MBTI®)
- Introversion vs. Extraversion—where we gain and use energy (i.e., interacting with people or needing alone-time)
- Sensing vs. iNtuition—how we gather information (e.g., focusing on facts or considering theories)
- Thinking vs. Feeling—the way we make decisions (e.g., with our head or heart)
- Perceiving vs. Judging—how we relate to the external world (e.g., living spontaneously or preferring schedules with firm deadlines)
Together, these four pairings can be combined to make up 16 different personality types (e.g., INFJ, ESTP, etc). Although everyone has the ability to behave in ways that display any of one of the above personality type preferences, such as being more sociable or reserved depending on the circumstance, we tend to favor being one way over the other, in general, because it comes more naturally. Just like the way people are either right- or left-handed—it feels comfortable. It is also important to note that no particular personality type is better than the other, and that each brings with it a range of natural strengths that are valuable.
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How it can affect our work
Our personality type can impact how we work, communicate, make decisions as well as lead and manage others. Some examples of the way our type preferences can influence how we approach our work include:
- Wanting to talk through a strategic problem with a group of colleagues to develop solutions (Extraversion) versus reflecting, first, on information gathered before contributing ideas to the team (Introversion).
- Thriving in group discussions and brainstorming meetings with a team (Extraversion) versus requiring time for contemplation and working in a quiet setting (Introversion).
- Having a tendency to rely on, and trust, facts and figures (Sensing) versus noticing the bigger picture and the meaning of patterns while contemplating theories (Intuition, which is represented by the letter “N” in assessments).
- Approaching decision-making from a more analytical and logical standpoint (Thinking) versus a people-oriented and values-based perspective (Feeling).
- Relying on logic, reason and objective analysis (Thinking) versus demonstrating compassion, empathy and consideration for others (Feeling).
- Going with the flow and being more spontaneous (Perceiving) versus preferring to adhere to schedules and deadlines (Judging).
- Being flexible and adaptable while gathering information and keeping options open while working on a project (Perceiving) versus starting early and being systematic and methodical in getting a job done (Judging).
Understanding personality type to improve communication
Having self-awareness and being flexible are key when it comes to improving your communication as a consultant, particularly when it comes to client management. It is important to recognize how you relate to others and communicate, approach decision-making as well as manage projects and people. In turn, be aware of how others do the same—and adjust your style accordingly in ways that facilitate mutual respect, cooperation and getting the job done.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- Identify and gain a better understanding of your own personality type preferences (through taking personality tests and learning more about your type).
- Ask questions, listen (to the specific words used) and watch the body language of others to acquire more insight into the personality type of those with whom you’re working and engaging.
- Modify and adjust your behavior to try to accommodate another person’s work style or preferred way of communicating.
- Focus on developing broader skills for stretching outside of your comfort zone when it comes to your personality type (e.g., if you’re introverted, be mindful of finding ways to network that work for you and engage in more public speaking, etc).
Learn More About Your Type:
- Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey
- Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabel Briggs Myers with Peter B. Myers
- Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesen
- The Art of Speed Reading People: How to Size People Up and Speak Their Language by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger
If you know (or once you learn) your personality type, let us know in the comments! Do you think the results are accurate, and what does it tell you about yourself?
Kerry Bezzanno is a Solo PR PRO Premium member and principal of Modcom Strategies, Inc—a Canadian-based PR firm specializing in strategic communications planning, media relations, content design and production, message development and speechwriting. During her award-winning career, Kerry has worked with over 80 organizations across the private, public and non-profit sectors. This has included various provincial and municipal government departments, as well as First Nations Chiefs and Councils, in areas such as oil and gas, education, environmental monitoring, land development and social services. She is also a certified MBTI® practitioner.
Image Credits: Head image courtesy of antibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. “MyersBriggsTypes” by Jake Beech – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –(https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MyersBriggsTypes.png#/media/File:MyersBriggsTypes.png)