Here at the Science of People, we think a lot about personality. Not only is personality a fun way to learn about yourself and your friends, it can also make you a more effective team member and leader.
Understanding personality allows you to form stronger relationships with your team and work more efficiently because you know how each person prefers to think, act, and communicate. Armed with that knowledge, you can tailor your interactions with your colleagues to match what makes the most sense for their personality. Check out our video to find out how:
The Building Blocks of Personality
Everyone has five main personality traits.The easiest way to remember them is by the word OCEAN
- Openness describes how favorably a person views new ideas, novel experiences, and change.
- Conscientiousness determines whether someone is detail-oriented or big-picture minded.
- Extroversion is based on whether individuals get their energy from other people or by being alone.
- Agreeableness reveals how driven people are to cooperate and be liked by others.
- Neuroticism measures how emotionally stable someone is.
I want to help you identify the personality traits of your colleagues. Get out a piece of paper or open a note-taking app and write out the word OCEAN vertically like it’s listed above. I’m going to explain the high and lows of each trait so you can figure out who on your team fits each.
We’re going to start with openness. Ask yourself these questions to determine the highest open person on your team You can think about friends and family too but, try to stick with colleagues for this activity:
The person answered these questions is the highest open person you work with.
Someone who is low open prefers tradition and routine. So, think about the person who loves doing things the exact same way. They start their day checking their email and then they work on their main project then they go to lunch then check email again etc. If you made them do the project before the email their brains would explode. Low open people are focused on things staying the same and are change averse. Who fits that description on your team?
Write down the person on your team who is your highest open and the person who is your lowest open.
Highest Open: _____________
Lowest Open: _____________
Now let’s get into conscientiousness. Your highest conscientious person is someone who loves to-do lists and routines. They’re highly organized and they always have an agenda. Who is the highest conscientious person you work with?
Your low conscientious colleague is someone who prefers big ideas. To-do lists and things that are detail-oriented are actually going to be overwhelming for them. They talk in vague, big-picture ideas but this isn’t a bad thing. Low conscientious people tend to be great at creating strategies because they’re able to look past all the little details involved in projects and see what needs to be done in the long-term.
Think of your highest and lowest conscientious people on your team.
Highest in Conscientiousness: _____________
Lowest in Conscientiousness: _____________
Next up is extroversion. This is probably the trait that you are most familiar with. The highest extrovert you work with is the person who loves chatting. They stop by your cubicle, they want to go out to lunch, they love planning happy hours. They’re the ones who plan office birthday parties. Many extroverts even have lots of little games and pictures at their desk to capture your attention lure you in for conversations. Bringing treats to share with people at work is another thing they’ll do to engage people in casual conversations. Think about the highest extroverted person you know.
If you have a low extrovert on your team, often called an introvert, they might keep to themselves a little bit more so they might not be as chatty at the office. Depending on how social their job is they also might actually need downtime after work so they might or might not go to the happy hour or office birthday party. If they go, they’ll often only stay for a little bit of time because they have to go home to recharge. If you catch them eating lunch alone, it’s probably not because they’re antisocial or something is wrong; they likely needed few minutes to themselves because that is how they process.
Identify the high extroverts and introverts on your team.
Next one is agreeableness. Agreeableness is how you work on a team. The highest agreeable person you work with is the person who says yes a lot, is very empathetic, and loves being a team player. If you say “Hey! Want to do this?” A high agreeable will respond with “Sure, I’ll try it!” Who is the highest agreeable, the most cooperative person you work with?
If you have low agreeable on your team, they’re a little trickier. They are data-driven and highly analytical. They want to see stats, charts, and facts to back up every claim and if you tell them something that you heard on the news or the radio, they’re first instinct is to google it to verify. If you have a low agreeable person, keep in mind that they are going to want written information with lots of data to back it up before they are willing to say yes. Think about the highest and lowest agreeable people on your team.
High in Agreeableness: _____________
Low in Agreeableness: _____________
The last trait is neuroticism. Neuroticism is how your colleagues worry. Think about if something bad were to happen at the office, maybe a frustrated email from a client comes in or the office has to close early or the copy machine breaks. In scenarios that are problematic but not extremely so your high neurotic person is going to be the most freaked out. They’re going to be like “‘Oh my gosh! What are we going to do? The client is going to drop us and our reputation is going to fall apart. We’re not going to be able to fix it!” They worry the most and they are worried for the longest.
On the contrary, the lowest neuroticism responds to difficulties by saying ‘It’s all going to work out just fine.” Low neurotics aren’t really worried about things happening in the moment or in the future. They can be a good balance for high neurotics because having someone who worries and someone who rarely gets stressed out by problems means that when you work together you can find a balance. Think about the highest and the lowest neurotic person on your team.
High Neurotics: _____________
Low Neurotics: _____________
I think that everyone should play with their colleagues, they’re friends, their co-workers, their families because it helps you honor where people already are. The point of personality science is not to change people to make them more like you but to figure out who they are and what are their natural tendencies so you can truly accept them and honor what makes them unique.