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Personality Types:Using Personality Assessments to Identify Your Strengths (and Understand Your Co-workers)

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Color-coded post-it flags, prioritized lists, and down-to-the-minute schedule (including estimated times to walk to meetings): exactly how I like to work. My co-worker, on the other hand? The complete opposite. She’s creative and spontaneous, but works on a million things at a time, doesn’t keep a to-do list (gasp!), and rarely remembers what status meetings happen on what day. I showed up to work one day to find her sitting at my desk – she couldn’t remember where hers was. Exasperated (although laughing), I asked, “how DO you function like this?!” “You know,” she said. “I think the reason we work so well together is because I know you are a Judger and I accept you for it. Someday you’ll learn that I’m a Perceiver and you’ll understand how I work, too.” My co-worker was (oh, of course!) referring to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a common personality assessment that identifies behavioral preferences. One of the dimensions indicates how people relate to their external environment: a Judger strives for structure and organization, while a Perceiver appreciates flexibility and spontaneity. There are no right or wrong results – that’s why it is called an assessment, and not a test! Personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs help you to understand why you behave the way that you do and your preferences in interpersonal interactions. On some level, you probably innately know what you like to do and how you like to work; personality assessments give you structured terms to identify your “type” and help you play to your strengths (and understand your blind spots). You can use them to gain insight into what personality traits complement, trigger, strengthen, or challenge you. The Myers-Briggs is just one personality assessment that you can take. Here are a few of my favorite assessments and included free links for you to try them out yourself:

Myers Briggs Type Indicator

  • Overview: Arguably the most widely used personality assessment in the world, Myers Briggs measures preferences along 4 dichotomous dimensions.
  • Results: Sensing vs. feeling indicates how you take in information, thinking vs. feeling indicates how you make decisions, extraverted vs. introverted assesses from where you draw energy, and judging vs. perceiving describes how you relate to the external world. Your result will be a 4 letter combination of preferences (i.e. ESTJ).
  • Suggested use: Great for team building, use it to explore workstyles with your coworkers.

Enneagram Test

  • Overview: The RHETI Enneagram identifies your type as one of 9 points in a diagram and provides an explanation of motivations, indicating corresponding fears, desires and needs.
  • Results: Your result will be a numbered type 1 through 9: the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger, or the peacemaker.
  • Suggested use: A great tool to explore your own personal motivations and compatibility with other types.

DISC Personality Test

  • Overview: DISC assesses 4 personality styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. All people exhibit these four styles in varying degrees of intensity.
  • Results: Your profile will show how high or low you measure on each style. Dominance measures how you respond to problems and challenges. Influence measures how you influence others to your point of view. Steadiness measures how you respond to the pace of the environment. Compliance measures how you respond to the rules and procedures set by others.
  • Suggested use: Since it changes based on your environment, see how you act differently at the office by taking the assessment twice, once envisioning your work-self and once with your weekend-self in mind.

Taking personality assessments also provides you with ideas on how to manage when confronted with different or difficult working styles. Here’s a tip: always take the time to read the analysis of types other than your own results. As you read, you’ll learn to recognize how the descriptions match other people you know. You’ll learn to understand and reflect on behavior that contrasts with the way you would have done it. That manager who always returns your work with edits of serial commas and consistent double spaces between sentences? She’s probably a Sensor-someone who is very detail-oriented. Put in the extra effort next time to double check font sizes before sending your next document for review. The co-worker who greets absolutely everyone he passes in the hallway? Probably an Extravert-someone energized by interacting with others. Make the detour to pass by his desk and chat for a few minutes in the morning. He’ll appreciate the thought. After reading about her Myers-Briggs profile, I had to admit my co-worker was onto something. We still don’t see eye to eye on everything, and I still remind her about our check-in meeting every week. But I am learning to appreciate the value in her impromptu brainstorming sessions – and a spontaneous happy hour is good for everyone now and then, right?

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