Mastering the four personality styles
I’m a people watcher. I love watching the interplay-and conflicts-that arise due to different personality styles.
It is especially fun to watch people like Mack and Bill at meetings.
Mack is a pragmatic New Yorker with no patience for anything that gets in the way of making a decision. Just give me the facts is one of his catchphrases.
Bill is a southerner through and through. As an amiable he is more interested in how it would affect his workers. Adding fuel to the fire is his need to answer any question with a drawn out w e l l .
After a few minutes of frustration on both sides I step in.
How do I talk to two people with entirely different needs?
Bill and Mack speak different languages. I’m not talking about languages like Swedish and Russian. I’m talking about how they process information and make decisions.
First I identified their personality styles so I understood how to address individual needs. In this case Mack is looking for facts and data in a concise form. Bill is looking for emotional information in detail.
Once I know how they think and what they need it is relatively easy to match their style. With a little practice this becomes second nature.
It’s not just for salesmen and managers…
People often avoid learning communication skills because they don’t feel they need it for their jobs.
“I’m an estimator not a salesman.”
“I’m not is customer service.”
“I’m just a worker bee.”
They miss the point that this is a skill that will improve every aspect of your life.
- Is your husband driving you nuts with excessive details (get on with it already!)?
- Do you find it irritating that your friend makes flighty decisions based on emotion but no facts?
- Does your boss drive you crazy by coming up with wild new plans but never following through
- Does your coworker cut you off mid explanation and tell you to get to the point?
Chances are good that this conflict is a direct result of different personality styles. Each style has different needs, both in the amount and the type of information. Once you learn to understand this you can figure out more effective ways to communicate.
For example: my wife is a pragmatic and I am an analytical. I’ve learned to give her an executive summary. If she needs more info she will ask for it.
We’ve learned to accept and accommodate each other’s styles and needs. Over time we’ve come to appreciate our different approaches and how they complement each other.
She has likewise learned to accept my need for data. She knows I need to research things before I decide. While her quick decisions are usually right there have been several occasions where I have saved us from making serious mistakes.
Four personality styles
Most people don’t fall completely into one category, but they do tend to have one overriding tendency. One of the easiest ways to visualize the differences between personalities is to put them on a graph. The vertical axis is their decision making criteria (data or feelings). The horizontal axis is their assertiveness.
- Traits: Systematic, organized, and deliberate. Analyticals need facts and data. Logic prevails over emotion. They like systems and procedures. Analyticals are slow to make decisions (paralysis by analysis) but decisions are extremely sound. Dependable workers they tend to be independent and not work well in teams.
- Typical careers: programmers, engineers, and accountants.
- Goal: intellectual recognition
- Keyword: Thinking
- Favorite question is what?
- Pro: precise, methodical, organized, rational, detail oriented
- con: critical, formal, uncertain, judgmental, picky
- Bottom line: want things done right.
- Traits: Tends to be leaders. Often called drivers they are practical and focused on results. Pragmatics are direct, to the point, and do a lot in a short time. They are decisive, driven, and results driven. Pragmatics have compassion for the truly disadvantaged but no patience for “lazy whiners.”
- Typical careers: manager, lawyer, banker
- Goal: find practical solutions to problems
- Keyword: results
- Favorite question is how?
- pro: persistent, independent, decision maker, effective, strong willed
- con: aggressive, strict, intense, relentless, rigid
- Bottom line: produce results in a practical manner.
- Traits: Dependable, loyal, and easy going. They like things that are non-threatening and friendly. Amiables hate facts and details because they are cold and impersonal. Warm, sensitive, and wishy-washy. Amiables are rarely leaders but tend to make great followers and team players.
- Typical careers: HR manager, social worker, physical therapist, counselor
- Goal: create harmony and cooperation
- Keyword: feelings
- Favorite question is why?
- pros: cooperative, dependable, warm, listener, negotiator
- cons: undisciplined, dependent, submissive, overly cautious, conforming
- Bottom line: things need to be done harmoniously and they need to be personally involved.
- Traits: Outgoing, enthusiastic, and high energy. Extroverts are great idea generators without follow through. They enjoy helping and socializing. Talker, overly dramatic, impulsive, and manipulative. Money motivated. They tend to direct and control not ask and listen.
- Typical careers: politician, musician, sales
- Goals: making things happen by turning ideas into action
- Keyword: action
- Favorite question is What if?
- pro: enthusiastic, persuasive, outgoing, positive, communicator
- cons: ego centered, emotional, exploitive, opinionated, reacting.
- Bottom line: things done with a sense of drama and style.
Conflicts due to personality styles
Amiable vs. Analytical
Pragmatic vs. Extrovert
The challenge with these personality style interacts is the type of information needed. Amiables and extroverts make decisions based on emotions and feelings. Analyticals and pragmatics need cold hard facts.
Analytical vs. Pragmatic
Extrovert vs. Amiable
The conflict comes from the amount of information needed. Analyticals and amiables need an endless supply of information. Pragmatics and extroverts need just enough to make the decision (anything more and they have already moved on).
Amiable vs. Pragmatic
Analytical vs. Extrovert
The conflict is much worse with these match ups. In these cases you have a mismatch with both the type and amount of information.
So how do I apply this to my life?
Start with the people closest to you. These are the people you know best and interact with the most. This both makes it easier (because you know them so well) and increases the impact on your life. Once you have mastered this start applying it to other people you meet. With practice and time this will become automatic.
Once you have identified their personality style you need to start addressing their needs. Remember the basics:
- Analyticals and pragmatics need data. Emotions and feelings count but are data points.
- Amiables and extroverts focus on emotions and feelings. Cold hard facts have little meaning to them.
- Analyticals and amiables need time and information to make decisions.
- Pragmatics and extroverts make quick decisions. Don’t overload them with information unless they ask for more.
Is this manipulation?
All you are learning to do is be more considerate. You are essentially giving others what they want most and dealing with them on their terms.