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Patterns of personality:The Key to effective communication and career fulfilment

Published:Sunday | April 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Glenford Smith, Career Writer

Here's an interesting question for you: Who at work reminds you of any of the following fictitious people?

John: Loves to talk, be around others and enjoys being the centre of attention.

Janet: Rarely speaks and prefers to be left alone.

Peter: Disorganised, indecisive and spontaneous; leaves things for the last minute but is a master improviser and somehow manages to get things done just in time.

Pauline: Highly meticulous planner; highly disciplined and prefers things to be organised and predictable.

We'll assume you have a few people in mind. Now, if you haven't noticed already, start to pay keen attention to how these individuals interact, generally.

Chances are you may find that people like John and Janet experience frequent conflicts. They generally might not see eye to eye. The same may be true of people like Peter and Pauline.

impact on work relationships

So what does this mean? How is that helpful to you?

The dissimilarities represent fundamental differences in personality. Understanding this difference in yourself and others can make the difference between antagonistic and enjoyable work relationships.

It can also make the difference between exceptional job fulfilment or unbearable career angst. It all depends upon how much your job suits your personality.

Your personality comprises a characteristic pattern of behaviours, attitudes and thinking. It influences how you perceive the world. It causes you to interpret experiences in predictable ways. It also controls how you interact with people.

One scientifically respected framework of personality types is called the Big Five model. It is also called the OCEAN model, which provides a useful mnemonic corresponding to the five dimensions of personality. These are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

According to this system, John demonstrates extroverted preferences while Janet is introverted. Pauline's tendencies correspond to the conscientious personality, whereas Peter is the opposite - undirected.

The Big Five personality framework is just one of several that you'll find useful. Visit and to learn about two other powerful personality models.


Improve your knowledge of personality types and immediately enjoy the following advantages:

1 You'll know to choose a job or career which harmonises with your personality. This enables you to play to your strengths while intelligently managing your weaknesses.

Also, if you're a manager or entrepreneur, you will know how to match employees to positions that maximise their natural strengths.

For instance, it would kill an extrovert to have to sit alone in a corner office all day doing an accounting job month after month. The same is true if you assign a confirmed introvert to a job as entertainment coordinator at a hotel.

2 You'll enjoy greater respect and support from your co-workers who will feel that you understand them. You see, not everyone thinks like you and sees the world like you do, so learn to appreciate each co-worker's unique personality.

Someone with a disagreeable personality might seem boisterous, antagonistic and unnecessarily confrontational for example. As a gentle, peace-loving soul, you'll just need to practise adaptability and learn to accept this person. Hint: You won't change him or her.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of a new book, 'From Problems to Power: How to Win Over Worry and Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities'.