People who work in PR need to have a personality. It’s a basic requirement really, isn’t it? But what sort of personality do you have? What about your team mates? If understanding a little bit more about how different people tick, do you think you’d work better together?
Amy on our team is a big fan of these things and she’s written some words about how important it can be to understand personalities. The best thing of all is that you can find out which boxes you tick yourself, for free, via the links at the bottom!
A little known fact about me is that I love personality tests. I think they’re fascinating.
There are absolutely loads of personality tests out there - some of which are guff, and others that are really interesting and actually make a lot of sense. The Myers-Briggs (or 16 Personalities) separates personality types into sub-categories within Analyst, Diplomat, Sentinel, and Explorer. The IQE is supposed to reveal a person’s natural strengths. And let’s not forget about Buzzfeed, because who doesn’t want to know which kind of cereal they are?
My personal favourite, though, is the Enneagram. The Enneagram is defined as ‘a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people conceptualise the world and manage their emotions’. According to the test there are nine ‘types’ of personality. Each different type therefore has a different way of seeing and responding to the world. The test highlights the unhealthy levels, healthy levels, and flourishing of each type, then positions them in relation to the other eight types - we don’t live in a vacuum after all.
Knowing stuff like this can really help when it comes to working as part of team. I truly believe that by identifying not only your own personality type, but the personality types of your colleagues, you can gain an effective tool for ensuring you’re getting the best out of each other. The Enneagram might just be a fun survey to spend half an hour of your life on, or an interesting psychological study, but if we harness what we learn about ourselves from it then there’s no reason why the Enneagram can’t enhance our personal and professional development.
If we can recognise the different personality types of our colleagues, I think we put ourselves in a much better position to understand and adapt to the way they work and communicate. Having this objective knowledge takes us out of our own subjective bubbles and shows us that we’re all seeking similar things, setting similar goals, and working to the same end - even if we express these in very different ways. Being able to understand where each personality type is coming from at the most basic level creates a greater channel for positive reinforcement and empathy amongst us. I don’t work in HR, so I don’t even have to say that.
I’m a type two, wing one - the Helper/Companion. According to the Enneagram, my basic want is to feel loved and my greatest fear is to be unwanted. At healthy levels, the Enneagram says I’m caring and interpersonal - demonstrative, generous, good natured. At unhealthy levels it says I can be people-pleasing, possessive, and neglect my own needs in the pursuit of helping others. There is little I disagree with there. It’s also right in identifying that I’m relationship focused and lead with my feelings.
Being able to identify these tendencies in myself genuinely does help me in real life. In terms of work, I’m told that ‘type twos thrive in environments that allow them to make new friends and help others. They enjoy building strong, working relationships and using their skills and abilities to serve those around them’. According to another site, as a type two I feel energised at work when I’m asked to help with a personal problem, when my hard work is appreciated by my boss, and my peers listen to and affirm me. All of which are true!
On the contrary, I’m told that work drains me when I’m ignored or criticised frequently, my efforts aren’t valued, or if my peers are cold and unwelcoming. I would argue that it’s just as helpful to recognise these qualities in myself as it is to recognise when I’m working to my best. By knowing why I might be feeling drained by my job, I can check to see if there’s a genuine problem or if my emotions are just getting in the way of being able to see the situation clearly.
It’s all the more interesting to see how different personality types feed off each other though. Some personality types work well together, and others don’t, there’s no getting round that. Each different type of personality, however, brings out different aspects of the other eight, and can support or supplement these aspects as they’re brought to light.
I truly think we can build stronger teams by using a test like the Enneagram to understand how different types of people work. Knowing that someone like me feels the most productive at work when there’s opportunity for collaboration, and that I work most effectively when my work is recognised and appreciated, means that the rest of the team at Clearbox can work to get the best for the team by getting the best out of me. The same goes for the personalities of other team members, and so on, until the team has the right people, in the right places, doing the right jobs, in order to achieve the best we can.
You might be predisposed to think this kind of thing is nonsense, but if you’re intrigued, you can find out your own personality type by taking this ten minute quiz. Alternatively, you can create a bowl of pasta and Buzzfeed will tell you what your best trait is(mine is my integrity, if you’re wondering…)