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We’re All Different … And That’s A Good Thing!

We’re all different … and that’s a good thing!

Have a glance at the words below:


If you were to pick a few that might be used to describe you, which would you chose?  If you had to pick more than one, two or three, what would you go for?

It’s likely that you and I would pick different words.  Certainly, if we asked people, in your firm, say to pick two or three words to describe themselves, it’s very likely that we’d see lots of different combinations.

In fact, there are something like 56 different combinations and if we were to get even pickier and ask people to prioritise then the possible combinations are more than 300!

The differences would reflect people’s different personalities and their preferred way of doing things, how they see the world and engage with it.

Psychologists have been interested in personality preferences for over 100 years, going back to the work of Freud and Jung.  Their initial work has been developed over the years and a variety of personality psychometric instruments have been developed; questionnaires that help us pinpoint differences and similarities between the way people think and behave.

You may well have completed such a questionnaire in the past.  Usually, a report is produced offering a personality profile.  Sharing the results and comparing similarities and differences between team members can be very informative.

Which is why we often use them in our interpersonal skills and business skills training, particularly in team sessions.  In fact, the words above are the priorities that the DiSC personality assessment focusses on.

These instruments look at personality preferences, and it’s important to recognise that it is not about competence or ability.  If you were asked to handwrite something, you would immediately exhibit a preference for using your left or right hand.  This would depend, fairly obviously, on whether you were right or left-handed. The ability to choose to use your preferred hand would mean that you would be able to write the note more easily, more quickly and likely more legibly than if you were asked you to use your non-preferred hand.

It unlikely, though, to impact on the content of what was written.

If we are aware of our preferences, then we can, and probably do, put ourselves in situations where we can do our best more easily – when we have a choice that is.

This became more apparent during the pandemic where some people with a preference for introversion might have relished the opportunity to work alone; some people with an extroversion preference might have sorely missed the hubbub of the office.  People who prioritise stability might have found the constant change exhausting; those who enjoy challenge might have found uncertainty invigorating.

Not right or wrong, just different.  Knowing ourselves, knowing that what works for us, and that isn’t necessarily what works best for others, is very powerful.  When we can work in a way that suits our preferences, we might get more done. Equally if we have to step out of that preference, out of our comfort zone – and we recognise that – we are likely to be able to rise to that challenge more easily.  We can put in steps to help us adapt.

Knowing how others work, and that it might be different from us, is also very powerful.

Just as knowing if someone is right or left-handed when playing sport can be a game changer, knowing someone else’s personality preference can be hugely advantageous if we want to get the best out of the relationship.

For example, knowing whether your boss is someone who likes to take decisive action based on a big picture briefing or someone who likes to be fully appraised of the detail and wants time to consider it before deciding.  Adapting your style to theirs can improve your relationship and save much angst.

Self-awareness is the key and being aware that other people are different.  Diversity of approach and thought is to be welcomed and can be a real business advantage.

But it can also be a challenge.  We all tend to approach others in the way we would like to be approached ourselves to, ‘Treat others as you would like to be treated’.  The saying should be rewritten. ‘Treat others as they would like to be treated’ works much better!

Nicky Clough, September 2022

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