Friday, July 24, 2009

Personality's Role

One of the top 10 best things I’ve ever done for myself is to take this personality test:

I discovered much about my personality type (INTJ), which gave me insight into why I relate to the world with such high levels of frustration. Reading the description of my type, enabled me to articulate why I see things as I do. It helped me realize that other types (99% of the population) do not process information in the same way. That was an ah-ha moment for me. I was holding the entire world to the same standards, assuming that everyone could see the obvious direction they should take, but then inexplicably, decide to take a ridiculous course of action.

Reasonableness is not a possession of all people. That was a new concept to me.

Let me illustrate the benefits by telling about conflicts that I have had with coworkers. My boss announced at staff meetings some new procedure. A system builder by nature, I immediately began contemplating how this would affect each department. I voiced several concerns, questioning what we should do in this or that case. He had not thought that far ahead, and was irritated that I would automatically find fault with the announcement. I was thinking, "How can he ignore the obvious ramifications of this decision?" He was thinking, "How can she presume to know how it will affect the entire organization?" Later, this would all be explained to me by understanding personality types. Concepts are easily understood by INTJ types, and we can quickly grasp the inter-workings of business. My boss was another type entirely; a type that needs to implement an idea before it can be fully understood.

Another trait of INTJ types is that we have low tolerance for slackers. I shared responsibilities with another woman in the office. She was always at least 15 minutes late for work. Once she arrived, her first order of business was to socialize with each and every employee. By the time she made her way around to me, asking how my evening had been, I was furious. Even though she slacked at her own work and distracted others from their work, the supervisors tolerated her because she was nice. I mean "nice" like a basket full of fluffy kittens. Nice has little value to an INTJ type because we live inside of ourselves, and put a moderate value on friendships. Well, I determined that I would not fall victim to the distraction, so when she approached me, I blasted her. "Do you even realize how late you are?!?! I have been working for an hour, doing your work, while you chit chat with everyone. It is time for you to go to your desk and get some work done!" She was crushed and spent the entire day trying to figure out how she might improve my mood. Every few minutes she would peek in on me and ask if she could run to the bakery for me, buy me lunch, or be a shoulder to cry on. I insisted that what I needed from her was work, but she was so preoccupied with my mood, that she could not think to work. Well, I finally discovered that some types are people-oriented and intensly people-focused. These types make wonderful event planners because they are natural hosts and care-givers.

Once I identified this difference, I changed my approach. Instead of scolding her when she asked how my evening had been, I pushed myself away from my desk, slouched in my chair in a relaxed pose, and with as much exuberance as I could muster said, "I watched a movie with my husband, went to bed early, and got some much-needed rest. Thank you for asking." It took less than a minute to have this conversation, but it was enough to satisfy her. To my relief, she proceeded to her desk and actually spent the day working. I never would have figured out on my own that some people need to know that all is well with the folks around them before they can focus on their duties.

Lessons learned: Know thyself. Accept that you are unlike others, and they are unlike you. The sooner you realize how foreign you are, the sooner you will begin to develop skills that allow you to manage the differences.

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