Thinking Extrovert seeks Feeling Introvert for meaningful business relationship

Our personalities play a key role in how we relate to each other at work. And, says John Hancock, the secret is not to try to change other people's traits, but to learn how to deal with them...

By John Hancock

Newspaper advert stating: 'Thinking Extrovert seeks Feeling Introvert for meaningful business relationship'There are different personality types in the world and in the workplace and there is no way in which you can change that fact — indeed the world would be considerably more boring and the workplace less creative and effective if we were all the same. You see, there will always be a tension when different types work together but, where they each understand the other's personality type, the relationship tension can be productive rather than destructive.

Negative tension arises when we try to deal with others in the manner that we would prefer to be dealt with ourselves, failing to consider how the other party might like to be dealt with; whereas, when we learn to frame our communications and dealings in a manner that will be acceptable to the recipient's personality type, any tension becomes the harnessing of two skill sets to achieve the same objective. The trick is to understand what different personalities are, and then to work out how to communicate and work with them.

Various systems exist to help corral and categorise personality types. One of the most famous comes from psychoanalyst and one-time friend of Freud, Carl Jung, who identified patterns of personalities in the 1920s. He broke personalities into four groups, which are broadly summed up as — Thinking Extroverts; Feeling Extroverts; Feeling Introverts; and Thinking Introverts. These formed the basis for the Myers Briggs personality tests used commonly today.

How to identify the different types
Jim Catterall, Managing Director of Results Enhancement, has written extensively on this topic, and has summarised the different character types discussed above. As even his summaries are lengthy, I have picked out the key points of each below:

Thinking Extroverts want to get to the point quickly and are not interested in you as a person, simply as a solver of their problems. Come prepared with all necessary supporting material.

Feeling Extroverts are creatures of emotion and need to know about you in order to put your proposal in a context they can understand. They need to feel that your idea is different and for you to hear their opinions on it.

Feeling Introverts are gentle people who like predictability and peace and wish to make others feel comfortable. Take time to become acquainted before talking business and try not to be abrupt or rapid.

Thinking Introverts are slow paced and analytical and require provable evidence before they will act. You'll need to be organised and clear in dealing with them and never rush them — they'll simply decide not to act.

Another system, "Social Styles" from Wilson Learning Corporation divides people according to their levels of Assertiveness and Responsiveness with varying degrees of each trait present in everybody.

The understanding of personality types has a lot more use in the organisation than simply how to get on with one another although that, in itself, is no bad thing. It can make teams many times more productive and help to ensure that the round pegs in the organisation are placed into the round holes where all of their energy can be devoted to the task, rather than trying to overcome the bad fit of a square peg in a round hole. Such systems as the ones outlined above create a consistent set of references with which people's personality types can be categorised. However, whatever system is used, the key is not to try and change people but to deal with them as they would wish to be dealt with.

How can it work in practice?
Without trying to condense the content of several books into one article, let's look at a typical example from a typical workplace situation. A boss who allows his PA to organise things and then feels the need to take the credit himself or, worse still, undermine the PA and her work, may be a "Thinking Extrovert". He thinks rather than feels (calculating) and is extrovert rather than introvert (more comfortable projecting himself than looking into himself); he has a high level of assertiveness (would feel threatened if he couldn't be perceived as being right) and a low level of responsiveness (does not consider how his actions might affect others).

Such a boss may be happier being able to talk about someone else setting up his technology in the context of them both having different and complementary roles in the team that he leads; having those skills in one of his team members can then be testimony to his recruitment and leadership skills and not a threat to his credibility.

The important thing is how you use any understanding of people that you can acquire. Nevertheless, you may find that exploring one of the systems further will provide your organisation with a competitive edge. As explained above, one article cannot condense the wisdom from several large volumes of well researched work, but it can suggest that you try to understand the people that you work with, not to subjugate your needs to theirs but to learn how to phrase and express yourself in a manner that ensures they will hear and understand the message, and not be pre-occupied with the manner of its delivery.

Communication is not simply about how we broadcast information; it's also about how our target audience receive it.

Find out more!
John Hancock is an award-winning freelance journalist specialising in business, finance & investment, technology applications and travel subjects. He also writes and edits business and investment books as well as creating corporate profiles and histories

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