Understanding How Your Personality Affects Others

In my last post, I introduced the Big Five personality model. If you took the assessment, I hope the results didn't surprise you. In this post, I'll discuss how your personality affects your work with others, your boss and your co-workers.

The 5 factors are N, E, O, A, and C.

Let's recall what N stands for.

N - Need for Stability: People who are high in N (N+) tend to be reactive and prefer low stress environments. People who are low in N (N-) tend to be very calm, even in stressful situations.

If you are N- and your boss or associate is N+, your calm could be interpreted as not recognizing or caring about a problem that your they are very concerned about. In this case, you should be sure they understand that you are concerned also and that you understand the impact the problem may have. Tell them what you plan to do about it.

If you are N+ and your boss or associate is N-, and you express a high degree of concern over an issue, you may be seen as being alarmist or over-reactive. If this is the case, have a discussion with them about where they believe the issue sits in priority with other issues and activities.

Be aware that if your entire team is N+, stress within the team can take a toll on performance and team health. It may be good to add some N- staff to the team.

Let's recall what E stands for.

E - Extroversion: People with high E (E+) like to be in the thick of the action and are outgoing. People with low E (E-) tend to be reserved and like a quiet environment.

If you are E- and your boss or associate is E+, be sure to communicate to them that you prefer to know the agenda prior to a meeting, and that you like to know ahead of time if you are expected to lead a conversation. In one on one meetings, it would be good to let them know that you are E- and that your desire for solitude is not personal. It's just your personality.

If you are E+ and your boss or associate is E-, be sure to take their personality into account when preparing for meetings with them. Give them an agenda ahead of time and let them know what will be expected of them. Keep meetings brief and focused.

Be aware that teams with most members low in E tend to under-communicate within the group and with others. You can help by asking about who else needs to know about the result of a discussion or meeting.

Let's recall what O stands for.

O - Originality: People high in O (O+) love new ideas and tend to enjoy artistic endeavors. People low in O (O-) prefer familiar environments.

If you are O- and your boss or associate is O+, you can be seen as a great asset in carrying out repetitious tasks that they would hate. Play to this strength.

If you are O+ and your boss or associate is O-, and you push new ideas on them before the ideas are vetted, they may tire of all your ideas and see you as a dreamer and not a doer. You should be selective of what ideas you push for, and you should do enough vetting of your ideas before pushing them too hard..

Be aware of having a balance of O+ and O- on your teams, so that new ideas are generated, yet progress is made on more mundane tasks.

Let's recall what A stands for.

A - Agreeableness: People with high A (A+) tend to accommodate the needs and desires of others over their own needs. People with low A (A-) tend to put their own interests ahead of those of others.

If you are A- and your boss or associate is A+, you will find little resistance to your ideas and opinions. Be sure to take the time to understand what they really think. They will have opinions, even if they don't share them readily with you. In the short term, you will get your way, but in the long run, they will resent your pushiness.

If you are A+ and your boss or associate is A-, you may find that you seldom get what you need or want. Put your thoughts, logic, and arguments in writing, so that they can be more readily digested and comprehended.

Be aware that team members with extremely low levels of A can be very damaging to the team. Be sure to make them aware when they steamroll others, and coach them to become more curious about the needs of others.

Let's recall what C stands for.

C - Conscientiousness: People with high C (C+) tend to focus on a goal or goals. Those with low C (C-) tend to like spontaneous pursuits and can get distracted easily.

If you are C- and your boss or associate is C+, learn not to resent their discipline and focus. Rather, use it to your advantage. Sit down with them and discuss priorities and ideas for efficient ways to get the work done.

If you are C+ and your boss or associate is C-, you might become frustrated with the lack of discipline in the team. Try and use your talents to help the team stay organized and on track. With time, you will be seen as a very valuable team member.

As you read through the scenarios, I'll bet that at least one of them felt familiar. I hope that you are able to take at least one tip away from this article, and that it helps you work better with your boss or co-workers.