Understanding Different Personality Types: Communicating Effectively in the Workplace

“You have to get along with people, but you also have to recognize that the strength of a team is different for people with different perspectives and different personalities.” — Steve Case

What's your personality type? Photo by Victoria Nevland via Flickr.
What’s your personality type? Photo by Victoria Nevland via Flickr.

Do you feel that you have a hard time speaking to your boss or colleagues? Maybe your boss sets undeniably high expectations? Or maybe you feel that your colleagues are inappropriate and obnoxious, or maybe they just talk too slow and do not get to the point fast enough?

Whatever the reason, understanding that we as humans are inherently and genetically different and we all think differently is key to a successful workplace. When we understand the people around us, we become more effective entrepreneurs, business leaders, and friendlier colleagues.

What Are Personality Types?

Personality type by definition is the psychological classification of different individuals with specific behavioral tendencies. Organizational and industrial psychologists use science to study human behavior in the workplace. These psychologists can use personality tests to assign people to certain parts of organizations or companies based on behavioral traits and personality criteria or scores.

Now that you know that these personalities can actually be measured, let’s take a look at some personality types. Some of you may be familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, which has 16 different personality types — though, for the purpose of this article, I’ll be discussing four personality types that Alison Mooney has divided people into.

Four Personality Types

  • The Playfuls – Energetic, funny, loud, enthusiastic, extroverts who love speaking to people. They are best at networking and socializing. They are also unorganized, forgiving, and easily distracted. They are innovative, full of ideas, creative, and tend to work fast.
  • The Peacefuls – Just as the title says it, they crave peace and order. They are easy going, patient, diplomatic – always avoiding confrontation with others. They are very grounded, and are emotionally stable. They balance out companies who are on the move or fast-paced, and are best at building a working team.
  • The Powerfuls – Authoritative presence, productive, decisive, take control, do not give up easily, internally strong, get to the point, work hard and accomplishing their many goals.
  • The Precises – They value structure, order, and compliance. They are organized, procedurally strong perfectionists. They put work before play and generally stop working only after they have done everything right.

In order to run a successful and engaging business, all personality types should be considered. Each one utilizes different strengths and weaknesses and should be valued consistently. Some of us offer insight, such as the Peacefuls, and some offer analysis, planning, and critical thinking, such as the Precises.

How to Interact With Each Personality Type

  • Playfuls typically want fondness, attention, and approval.
  • Powerfuls typically want credit, loyalty, and appreciation.
  • Precises typically want quiet, space to work alone, and sensitivity.
  • Peacefuls typically want respect, value, and harmony between people in the workplace.

Example Scenario: Playfuls vs. Precises

Playfuls like attention, and precises like to work alone in quiet. Playfuls are extroverts, and precises are introverts. These two are completely opposite of each other.

One way you can work with an introverted person is give them the space they need to work. Small talk may not be productive in working with them.

In Dr. Laurie Helgoe’s book, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, she demonstrates that an introverted personality enjoys speaking in depth. Introverts find this stimulating and glorifying. Instead of small talk, try sparking a conversation that isn’t about the weather. Introverts do not like the “barrier” that small talk creates between people, and would like to know about you as person rather than the weather.

Playfuls, or extroverts, are the opposite of precises, and like to be surrounded by people. Playfuls generally feel very comfortable making direct eye contact when speaking to someone. Extroverts also like to feel they are part of the team, and that their hard work is not going unnoticed. Extroverts love socializing, and letting them have social freedom during work hours helps them with prioritizing and productivity.

Again, extroversion and introversion are very different. They follow a continuum rule — if you’re high in one, it usually means you are low in the other. Anyone who feels they are a mixture of both introversion and extroversion is called an ambivert. Ambiverts equally favor all elements of introverts and extroverts, such as solitude and socializing.

Start by Knowing Your Personality Type

When you understand what personality type you are, you can understand yourself and what communication styles are most effective for you. And when we understand our colleagues’ personalities, we can work better with them, develop closer relationships, and create a friendlier, more cohesive work environment.

Find out your personality type with this personality test. I scored 69% Extroversion — what is your score?

How do you feel about the four personality types listed?

Are you a mix or solely one personality type? Let me know your thoughts below!