How Diverse Personalities Can Be Better Understood In Your Office

Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, looking to change careers, or in a leadership position, one of the most important factors to consider is the culture of your workplace. In fact, according to research from Deloitte, “94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.” It’s easy to understand why.

A positive workplace culture boosts morale, prevents burnout, decreases conflicts, and improves collaboration. It also keeps everyone engaged and inspired. As a result, productivity soars, and turnover is less likely to occur.

While there are several ways to build a more positive culture, it ultimately comes down to the personalities of the people within the office. Just take a moment to think about the people you’ve worked with. Did you ever have the honor of working with a micromanager, a bully, or a critic? How about someone who’s always negative or unable to control his emotions? I doubt you were effective in that role. Even worse, I bet you dreaded working with these types of individuals — meaning that showing up to work each day took real effort.

Understanding the various personality types within your organization is key to improving its culture. Better yet, it can make you a stronger teammate.

Recognizing Personality Types

I feel TypeFinder has a clear definition of what personality types are: “Personality typing is a framework designed to describe individuals according to their unique personality styles: their approach to managing energy, processing information, interacting with others, and organizing their lives.”

Personality typing can be traced back to the studies of psychologist Carl Jung. The theory of personality was later continued by Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers. The goal of personality typing is to highlight people’s differences while showcasing their individual strengths and tendencies.

If you want to learn what your personality type is or have your co-workers join you in a typing exercise, there are more than enough personality tests available. The most well-known are Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Big Five, DiSC, and StrengthsFinder. Some of these may charge you for an assessment, but many sites offer free options as well. Many offer team assessments to bring together the different types under one roof.

Will these assessments always be 100% accurate? No — in fact, some experts recommend that you consider the result you were given, as well as other high-scoring options, to determine which one most closely reflects your outlook and habits. Nonetheless, these assessments can concretely help you identify your and your teammates’ strengths, preferences, and behaviors. Knowing these things will help you better collaborate with others; if you’re a leader, this knowledge can assist in motivating and managing your team.

I would like to add one final note here: I suggest you don’t use personality testing when hiring. Besides prolonging the hiring process, some candidates may be able to “trick” the test to give the result they think you want. More concerning may be some legal concerns, such as violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instead, you could have new hires take a personality test as part of the onboarding process, which is something I’ve done in the past.

Beyond onboarding, you could also take personality tests as a part of a career development effort or use them for a team-building activity. Our team, for example, took an Enneagram assessment before our biannual meeting and discussed the results and how we could help address each other’s needs.

Taking the test is just the first step. Here’s what you should do next to become a better and stronger teammate.

1. Develop your own self-awareness. 

I’ll be honest: It’s not always easy to admit and embrace your shortcomings. But self-awareness should be the first move you make when it comes to working with teams because it gives you a chance to know yourself better. If you can’t understand your own motivations, how can you possibly embrace others’?

For example, according to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, my type is ENTP. This type is often referred to as the debater because we have a tendency to be curious and innovative. Not bad for an entrepreneur, right? The problem with ENTPs is that we often love playing devil’s advocate. As a result, others might perceive us as pushy, rude, or dismissive of their ideas.

Knowing this, I’ve had to work on my tone and body language to let others know that I’m not hating on their ideas or feedback. I just want to challenge them and their ideas so we can find the best solution possible.

2. Prioritize time with your teammates. 

Granted, taking a personality test won’t make you an expert. But it can let you know the most common types of personalities that exist within your organization. Those dominant tendencies and outlooks naturally shape your culture.

Of course, the only way you can match these personality types with your colleagues is by actually getting to know them. I get that time can be an issue, but it can also serve as an excuse. There are always opportunities to prioritize time with each of your teammates, like inviting a co-worker to lunch or having a quick chat during a break.

When you get to know your teammates better, you can identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their preferences. These one-on-one interactions also give you a chance to ask what their needs are and exchange feedback.

For example, if you have an employee who’s an introvert, don’t put her on the spot during a brainstorming session. A better alternative would be to conduct a brainwriting session so her voice can be heard while respecting her habits and preferences. It’s how you’ll get the best work out of her — and build the best camaraderie among your teammates.

3. Use individual strengths and preferences to your advantage — but don’t be afraid to shake things up. 

In school, English was not my forte. That meant I had to work my tail off in college to ensure I got a good grade. One way I achieved that was by working with my classmates who excelled in English, partnering with them on projects and studying with them before an essay-writing exam.

At the same time, I had no problem speaking in front of a crowd, which carried over nicely into my public speaking career. If one of my quieter writing buddies had to work on a group presentation, he would team up with me. He would structure the argument, based on our research, and I would present it to the class.

The same idea can be applied to the workplace. Whether you’re assigning tasks or collaborating on a project, people want to play to their strengths and preferences. Do you have a coder who works best at home? Grant him the autonomy to work from home as often as possible. Do you have a salesperson who loves talking to others? Find opportunities to let her spread her wings at conferences.

At the same time, shake things up to prevent getting in a rut. Consider rotating positions or asking your teammates to take on new responsibilities. It can help everyone develop new skills, show off previously hidden talents, and gain insight into the diversity of the entire team.

Understanding personality types isn’t a magic bullet, but it can help you discover more about yourself and your teammates. Better understanding your teammates’ preferences and motivations can strengthen your communication with them and help you avoid conflicts. Personality typing can ensure that a diverse group of people not only is productive and successful, but also respectful — and that’s exactly the culture you want.

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Source: How Diverse Personalities Can Be Better Understood In Your Office

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Stop Telling Chronically Ill People to ‘Stay Positive’

Have you considered listing all the positive things happening in your life?” my therapist asked me.

I winced a bit at my therapist’s words. Not because I thought gratitude for the good in my life was a bad thing, but because it glossed over the complexities of all that I was feeling.I was talking to her about my chronic illnesses and the way it impacts my depression — and her response felt invalidating, to say the least.

She wasn’t the first person to suggest this to me — not even the first medical professional. But every time someone suggests positivity as a solution to my pain, it feels like a direct hit to my spirit.

Sitting in her office I began to question myself: Maybe I do need to be more positive about this? Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining about these things? Maybe it isn’t as bad as I think?

Maybe my attitude is making all this worse?

Positivity culture: Because it could be worse, right?

We live in a culture steeped in positivity.

Between memes spouting messages meant to uplift (“Your life only gets better when you get better!” “Negativity: Uninstalling”), online talks extolling the virtues of optimism, and countless self-help books to choose from, we are surrounded by the push to be positive.

We are emotional creatures, capable of experiencing a wide range of feelings. However, the emotions that are deemed preferable (or even acceptable) are far more limited.

Putting on a happy face and presenting a cheery disposition to the world — even when going through really tough stuff — is applauded. People who push through hard times with a smile are praised for their bravery and courage.

Conversely, people who express their feelings of frustration, sadness, depression, anger, or grief — all very normal parts of the human experience — are often met with comments of “it could be worse” or “maybe it would help to change your attitude about it.”

This positivity culture transfers over to assumptions about our health, too.

We’re told that if we have a good attitude, we will heal faster. Or, if we’re sick, it’s because of some negativity we put out into the world and we need to be more conscious of our energy.

It becomes our job, as sick people, to make ourselves well through our positivity, or at the very least to have a perpetually good attitude about the things we’re going through — even if that means hiding what we’re truly feeling.

I admit that I have bought into many of these ideas. I’ve read the books and learned about the secret to manifesting good into my life, to not to sweat the small stuff, and how to be a badass. I’ve attended lectures about visualizing all I want into existence and listened to podcasts about choosing happiness.

For the most part I see the good in things and people, look for the silver lining in unpleasant situations, and see the glass as half full. But, despite all that, I’m still sick.

I still have days where I feel most every emotion in the book except for the positive ones. And I need that to be okay.

Chronic illness can’t always be met with a smile

While positivity culture is intended to be uplifting and helpful, for those of us dealing with disabilities and chronic illness, it can be detrimental.

When I’m on day three of a flare-up — when I can’t do anything but cry and rock because the meds can’t touch the pain, when the noise of the clock in the next room feels excruciating, and the cat’s fur against my skin hurts — I find myself at a loss.

I’m grappling with both the symptoms of my chronic illnesses, as well as guilt and feelings of failure associated with the ways I’ve internalized the messages of positivity culture.

And in that way, people with chronic illnesses like mine just can’t win. In a culture that demands we face chronic illness inauthentically, we’re asked to deny our own humanity by concealing our pain with a “can-do” attitude and a smile.

Positivity culture can often be weaponized as a way of blaming people with chronic illnesses for their struggles, which many of us go on to internalize.

More times than I can count, I’ve questioned myself. Did I bring this on myself? Am I just having a bad outlook? If I’d meditated more, said more kind things to myself, or thought more positive thoughts, would I still be here in this bed right now?

When I then check my Facebook and a friend has posted a meme about the power of a positive attitude, or when I see my therapist and she tells me to list the good things in my life, these feelings of self-doubt and self-blame are just reinforced.

‘Not fit for human consumption’

Chronic illness is already a very isolating thing, with most people not understanding what you’re going through, and all the time spent in bed or homebound. And the truth is, positivity culture adds to the isolation of chronic illness, magnifying it.

I often worry that if I express the reality of what I’m going through — if I talk about being in pain, or if I say how frustrated I am at having to stay in bed — that I’ll be judged.

I’ve had others say to me before that “It’s no fun to talk to you when you’re always complaining about your health,” while still others have remarked that me and my illnesses were “too much to handle.”

On my worst days, I started to pull back from people. I’d keep quiet and not let anyone know what I was going through, except for those closest to me, like my partner and child.

Even to them, though, I’d jokingly say that I wasn’t “fit for human consumption,” trying to maintain some humor while also letting them know it may be best to just leave me alone.

Truthfully, I felt shame about the negative emotional state I was in. I’d internalized the messages of positivity culture. On days where my symptoms are especially severe, I don’t have the ability to put on a “happy face” or gloss over the things going on with me.

I learned to hide my anger, grief, and hopelessness. And I held onto the idea that my “negativity” made me a burden, instead of a human being.

We are allowed to be authentically ourselves

Last week, I was lying in bed in the early afternoon — lights off, curled up in a ball with tears quietly running down my face. I was hurting, and I was depressed about hurting, especially when I thought about being bed-bound on a day I’d had so much planned.

But there was a shift that happened for me, ever so subtle, when my partner walked in to check on me and asked me what I needed. They listened as I told them all the things I was feeling and held me as I cried.

When they left, I didn’t feel so alone, and even though I was still hurting and feeling low, it somehow felt more manageable.

That moment acted as an important reminder. The times when I tend to isolate are also the times that I actually need my loved ones around me the most — when what I want, more than anything, is to be able to be honest about how I’m really feeling.

Sometimes all I really want to do is have a good cry and complain to someone about how hard this is — someone to just sit with me and witness what I’m going through.

I don’t want to have to be positive, nor do I want someone to encourage me to change my attitude.

I just want to be able to express my full range of emotions, to be open and raw, and have that be totally okay.

I’m still working on slowly unravelling the messages that positivity culture has ingrained in me. I still have to consciously remind myself that it’s normal and perfectly okay to not be optimistic all the time.

What I’ve come to realize, though, is that I am my most healthy self — both physically and emotionally — when I give myself permission to feel the full spectrum of emotions, and surround myself with people who support me in that.

This culture of relentless positivity won’t change overnight. But it’s my hope that, the next time a therapist or a well-meaning friend asks me to look at the positive, I’ll find the courage to name what I need.

Because every one of us, especially when we’re struggling, deserves to have the full spectrum of our emotions and experiences witnessed — and that doesn’t make us a burden. That makes us human.

Angie Ebba

Angie Ebba is a queer disabled artist who teaches writing workshops and performs nationwide. Angie believes in the power of art, writing, and performance to help us gain a better understanding of ourselves, build community, and make change. You can find Angie on her website, her blog, or Facebook.


Source: Stop Telling Chronically Ill People to ‘Stay Positive’

How To Stop Toxic Comparison & Combat the Envy-Inducing Effects of Social Media – Tara Swart


Wouldn’t you like to be immune to comparison? To devote your energy to making your own goals happen rather than enviously poring over the details of other people’s successes?

We live in a world in which comparing ourselves with others is easier than ever. Social media means we’re constantly invited to measure the curated high points of other people’s lives against the everyday ups and downs of our own reality.

From a neuroscientific point of view, this can be harmful for two reasons. First, it’s distracting and energy intense. Social media requires you to make a lot of decisions: what to like, how to comment, what content to post and how to frame it. These low-level decisions add up and deplete your cognitive resources for the times when you really need them in your own life.

Second, overuse of social media can trigger your ‘lack’ thinking mode, whereby you activate your brain’s negative pathways as a result of focusing on everything you don’t have and others do. Research into teenage behaviours shows that negative body image and self-objectification are directly related to social-media usage.

The good news is that there is plenty you can do to inoculate yourself against the urge to compare yourself, whether online or in real life, with friends you perceive to be more successful or happier. By focusing on modifications that harness the power of neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to change for the better – you will be able to build your resilience. Remember, nobody is born confident; it is something you can work at. Here are some ideas for how to do just that:

Think abundantly. This can help you reframe others’ successes as inspiring rather than threatening. Tell yourself there is enough to go around for everyone (partners, great jobs and money). Thinking abundantly translates into liking, commenting and engaging on social media, spreading the love around, focusing more on the positive responses you give to other people than you do on your own feed. This emphasis on giving is a good way to counteract the narcissistic tendencies social media can fuel.

Switch your self-talk. You know that negative voice inside your head? Ask yourself what its underlying message is. It will usually speak to your deepest insecurity, whether that’s “I don’t have what it takes to be successful” or “Change is dangerous. I’d better stay where I am”. Take this exact message and find its opposite: “I am successful” or “Change is exciting”. Repeat this aloud, and with feeling, whenever you remember.

The greater the positive emotional charge you can give your affirmations, the more likely it is your brain will take note of them. This is because emotionally charged thoughts activate a ‘value tagging’ system in the brain that tags not only what is important to you deep down but also creates a sense of your place in the world, such as your identity in life (I belong) or your purpose at work (what I do is meaningful).

Hold on to good feelings. Wellbeing and resilience have been linked with the ability to sustain positivity and savour happy moments after they have passed. In 2015, researchers at CIHM in the University of Wisconsin-Madison used brain scans to demonstrate that those who were able to maintain those good feelings had sustained ventral striatum engagement.

This area of the brain is part of the basal ganglia, where our internal reward systems are found. You can work on enhancing this ability yourself by making a point of noticing your successes. Write down your greatest achievements of the past year and past five years, with a line or two on what you learnt from each of them. I recommend writing a miniature version of this list every night too. Note down the compliments you get. Print out pictures of yourself you like. This will help remind you that there is plenty you are doing that is good.

Get used to fake stress. Boost your natural mental and physical resilience by trying intermittent fasting (this could be as simple as only eating between 12 noon and 8pm most days) or having a regular ice-cold shower followed by a sauna. Training yourself to endure temporary hardship has been found to improve immunity (fasting) and build the brain’s fight or flight response (cold-water immersion), rather like the way allergies are sometimes treated through controlled exposure to the allergen.

Let unhelpful thoughts move along. Regular mindfulness meditation will help you to allow unfriendly thoughts to pass without clinging on to them. This way, you avoid veering off down an inadequacy-inducing rabbit hole of comparison, a huge waste of brain energy that comes at a great cost to your confidence.

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Positive Thought – I Do Not Care About That But I Do Care About You — thesecretblind

I do not care if your eyebrows are not on fleek. I do not care if the spot that you think is huge, is there. I do not care if you have dribbled mayonnaise all over your top from your lunch. I do not care that you have some spinach between your teeth. I do […]

via I Do Not Care About That But I Do Care About You — thesecretblind

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