Dealing with Different Personalities

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in an organization just agreed with each other and have the same ideas all the time?  Frankly, no.  In this article, we explore the importance of variety in an organization and learn how to deal with these differences.

As a leader, learning to deal with different types of people is a highly important skill. When opinions clash, you’ll have to learn to analyze, synthesize, or reject ideas in a positive way. You’ll have to learn to deal with different. Here’s how you can do just that.

Build a culture of respect

Start off on the premise of respect. From the onset, communicate the importance of having different ideas, learning how to widen our perspectives, getting out of our comfort zones, and listening to others’ opinion. Remember that you’re a role model for your team. As your team learns to listen to each other, you’ll notice that they’ll start being more open to ideas, no matter how different they are.

Know each of your teammates personally

You can’t use a cookie cutter approach if you want to be an effective communicator.  For instance, you’ll have to use different approaches with someone who’s very shy and someone who’s very obnoxious. Getting to know your team individually will help you discern the right approach to use.

Learn the different personality types

People are complex and can’t be pegged down to a particular stereotype. But there are general guidelines you can use that help you deal with different personalities.  You can usepersonality tests like Strengthsfinder, which is available online or in print. Used in a lot of organizations, Strengthsfinderassesses your top five strengths.  Leaders will find this particularly helpful in motivating and engaging different personality types.

Give effective feedback

Feedback is important in making improvements and setting boundaries. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know to give encouraging yet honest feedback. Try to see which one works best for the person you’re dealing with:

  • Feedback sandwich – for people who can’t deal with negative feedback. Start off with the positive (I really like the work you’ve been doing), continue with the potentially offensive feedback (but I’d really appreciate it if you could come to work on time), and then end with another positive comment (I’m sure you’ll understand knowing how important this project is to you, as well).
  • Feedback forms – some people can’t take face-to-face confrontation and would rather see comments on paper.
  • Direct feedback – there are those who prefer no-nonsense and very frank criticism. These are the types who feel that work is work, no hard feelings.

The word “different”brings with it negative connotations.  Differentmay make you uncomfortable, but it’s also a fact of life. You and another person may be very similar, but you’ll always have your differences.

Differences may separate us, but they can also teach the value of listening, compromise, empathy, and flexibility. Different can actually be good if you know how to deal with it.