Work styles, personality, temperament… all sounds like a bunch of psychological mumbo-jumbo to many people who are looking for a job today.  Many have the attitude of “I just want a job…I can make any situation work”.

Whereas this outlook is understandable when you just need a job, the fact is that your relationships with your work cohorts and the type of work you do are of vital importance to your success and happiness.

Anyone who has ever spent 8-9 hours of their day in a horrible work environment can attest to this.  Like many, I am guilty of accepting a job strictly because I wanted the job, and I ignored all the warning signs during the interview process….signs that were screaming at me about the obviously bad fit between me and my potential new manager.  I spent a year of misery before I could walk away and look for other opportunities.

As The Snelling Blog introduced yesterday, a person’s temperament is their basic, inherited style; it is not learned.  Personality is acquired on top of temperament.  Two people can have the same temperament, but (due to various environmental and lifestyle factors) they can have different personalities.  The importance of understanding your own temperament and personality, and the ability to be able to recognize other people’s helps everyone become more effective in the workplace.

You need to know yourself. Take one of the many online personality/temperament tests.  This can be an eye-opening experience for you, and will help explain why you do the things you do and why you do (or do not) get along with certain people.

Most of the time, our inability to get along with others is due to nothing more than a misunderstanding.  For example, the Idealist (Phlegmatic or NF) comes across as quiet and reserved.  They are not talkative because they are mad at you or because they do not like you.  They are not talkative simply because that is nature.

You can use knowledge of your own temperament and personality to help you in choosing your job, in targeting certain companies and in forming friendships.  Certain people are simply not cut out to be a good surgeon – myself included – or teach pre-school.  Taking a temperament test can often include suggestions concerning potential career choices.

Now, as stated in The Snelling Blog, no one is simply one temperament.  That is too black and white, and life is not black and white.  There are so many factors that affect a person’s reaction to external events.  However, by understanding the four different types of temperament, you will be able to identify personality “misses and matches” between you and your work cohorts.  This in turn will help you find effective ways to interact with all types and combinations.

In most cases (and I have never successfully met anyone who has), you cannot change your basic temperament style.  So embrace it.   You can influence your behaviors and (over time) your personality, but biggest mistake most people make is to mimic  behaviors that are not natural their own. It is usually not successful and it is often a painful experience (for everyone involved).

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.