Individual Leadership

Communicating with different personality types

Written by Dylan Gerstley

3 Min Read

We all bring our lives into the workplace, no matter how hard we try to check ourselves at the door. Understanding employees and colleagues as individuals, who each have their own unique skills and life experiences, is critical to getting the most out of collaboration. By interacting with established personality types, we can begin to polish our communication for the most effective results.

Take the test and respond accordingly

Decades of research into human personalities has given us obtainable access to helpful personality tests and matrixes. Some of the most popular include the Myers-Briggs, the Birkman Method, DiSC, and CliftonStrengths. At Siegfried, we use the Fascination Assessment to find out what values our employees can offer based on their unique abilities.

By using these tools, you can better understand your team’s, and your own, strengths and weaknesses. An effective and efficient team is comprised of a variety of personality types. This offers the opportunity for each individual to be placed in a role that matches up with their strengths, while limiting their weaknesses. These weaknesses can then be covered by another team member’s strengths, creating a strong, multitalented team that can conquer an array of projects with aplomb.

Understand the nuance

Even though personality tests and matrixes are helpful tools to understand how an individual is approaching a situation, they are just that: tools. Because each individual is the result of their unique experiences, it’s important to recognize the nuance that comes with that. Personality types are a guide to interaction rather than a mandated way of doing things.

Conversely, as an individual yourself, you bring your own unique experiences to the table. In leadership roles, it’s often more advisable to remain as objective as possible to eliminate any emotional decision making. But each situation is different, so use your best judgment in dealing with a difficult situation by calling on all you know, and not just relying on a set personality archetype.

By using the personality test results as a starter for a conversation, you can give your team the opportunity to share more about themselves that may jar with what the test says. It’s imperative to avoid stereotyping employees, and instead use the test results as a chance to learn more about each other.

Take a load off

There’s more to employees than their job titles and responsibilities. As mentioned above, we all have our own lives that impact how we act at work. To truly connect with employees and colleagues to understand their unique situation, spend some time away from the office without focusing on work.

A coffee catch up hour, a trivia or game night, or a Netflix club are all great ways to spark some authentic human interaction. The social bonds created through these structured events will create organic team chemistry as everyone grows to know each other and become more familiar with the different communication styles across the group.

By taking the time to know your employees and colleagues better, you’ll be more equipped to meet their needs and exceed expectations at work. And you will also be better prepared to navigate difficult or sticky situations because you have put in the time and effort to truly know your team.

Lead by example

Blending personal and professional can be a tricky balance to strike, but by sharing genuine thoughts and feelings from your life as a leader, you help your team feel more at ease sharing their lives. Being authentic about the challenges you are facing helps others become more comfortable with their own vulnerability, while leading to stronger emotional connections.

And as always, the simple rules of respect apply to all, regardless of personality type. Actively listen, lean into what others are going through, and strive to create greater connections that benefit all.

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