Personality Style at Work: The Secret to Working with (Almost) Anyone

Personality Style at Work: The Secret to Working with (Almost) Anyone

by Kate Ward


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Personality Style at Work: The Secret to Working with (Almost) Anyone by Kate Ward


Named a “Best Career Book 2012” by FINS Finance

Personality Style at Work provides you with the insight and tools to understand your style and to adapt it to others’ preferences. Implement the concepts in this book to ensure that you will be a better communicator, team member, and leader.”
—ELAINE BIECH, author of The Business of Consulting and editor of The ASTD Leadership Handbook

“Kate has done a tremendous job using the Personality Style Model to help us each be the best we can be every day.”
—LOU RUSSELL, CEO/Learning Facilitator, Russell Martin & Associates, and author of IT Leadership Alchemy, The Accelerated Learning Fieldbook, Project Management for Trainers, and 10 Steps to Successful Project Management

Personality Style at Work is a fresh and timely approach to the interplay of personality styles in the workplace. You may not need this book if you are a hermit, but it is a must-read for anyone working on a daily basis with other people!”
—SHARON BOWMAN, international trainer and author of Training from the Back of the Room

“Kate Ward presents a simple, useful model for looking at how personality style affects performance. A great fi nd for anyone interested in improving their everyday interactions.”
—GEOFF BELLMAN, consultant and author of Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results

About the Book:

The most important business skill isn’t a skill at all. It’s your personality. And only when you develop a keen understanding of your personality style—and the styles of the people you deal with—will you reach your full potential as a business professional.

Personality Style at Work reveals the proven personality style model used by HRDQ, a trusted developer of training materials—giving you one of today’s most valuable tools for leading others, contributing to teams, effectively communicating with coworkers, and making better decisions.

This groundbreaking guide helps you achieve positive results in virtually any workplace situation. Whether you’re a high-level manager, a salesperson, a customer service professional, or an entry-level employee, you’ll learn why others behave as they do in specifi c situations and how to use that knowledge to turn every interpersonal encounter into a win-win scenario.

The HRDQ model has been administered to more than one million people—and it has generated remarkable results. It is based on four principal personality styles:

  • Direct: High assertiveness, low expressiveness
  • Spirited: High assertiveness, high expressiveness
  • Considerate: Low assertiveness, high expressiveness
  • Systematic: Low assertiveness, low expressiveness

Which one describes you? Knowing the answer is the first step to achieving consistently positive and productive personal interactions—which is why Personality Style at Work includes an assessment that you can take to identify your style.

Armed with this valuable self-assessment, you can adapt your behavior to create more practical, harmonious working relationships. Personality Style at Work opens the door to a whole new way of interacting with others in a way that benefits you, your coworkers, your customers, and your entire organization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071791601
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 05/04/2012
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 709,805
Product dimensions: 6.70(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Kate Ward has more than 20 years of experience in training development. She has authored dozens of programs, first for CareerTrack and then for TreeLine Training as Senior Instructional Designer. Ward runs her own company, which offers innovative training solutions for today’s business needs. She lives in Louisville, CO, with her husband and two sons.

HRDQ is the creator and developer of the HRDQ Style Model. The company has been a trusted leader in the training and development field for more than 30 years. Its soft-skills learning resources are designed to initiate lasting change and improvement for individuals at all levels, from frontline employees to high-ranking executives.

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The Secret to Working with (Almost) Anyone


The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2012HRDQ
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-179160-1



What Is Personality Style and Why Does It Matter?

Perhaps the best way to both illustrate and explain personality style (at least as humans experience it) is through a simple and probably familiar slice-of-life vignette.

You're riding an elevator down to the third floor in a standard office building. The elevator is carrying a full load of your colleagues, who are headed to their own meetings or out to lunch. Suddenly, the elevator stops between the fourth and fifth floors, and it won't budge. Someone, perhaps the office jokester, immediately rolls out a tension-breaking quip. "So, I guess you're all wondering why I called this meeting," the funny man says with a deadpan, business-as-usual tone. Everyone laughs as a few more captives offer jokes of their own; then the personality types of the individual riders begin to emerge.

One person reaches for the emergency phone to call for help. Someone else suggests a game to play while waiting to be rescued. Another person, partly in jest but with a worrying bit of real possibility, offers a rough estimate of how long it might take for people to use up all the oxygen in the elevator. A fourth person asks if everyone is OK and offers gum or perhaps water from an unopened bottle of water just purchased in the office lunchroom vending machine.

This scenario—getting stuck in an elevator with a bunch of strangers or colleagues—is so common that you may have an immediate connection to the story or even have a similar story of your own that you could relate. Perhaps you've even wondered about two key questions that the story illustrates:

1. Why do people react so differently to the same situation?

2. Why do people exhibit the same behaviors again and again, no matter what the situation?

Answering these questions is the purpose of this book, and the answer is found right in the title: personality styles. So what is personality? The precise answer to that question might fill a moderately large academic library. Here is the definition from the American Psychological Association:

Personality is the unique psychological quality of an individual that influences a variety of characteristic behavior patterns (both overt and covert) across different situations and over time.

In other words, personality is the consistent pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that makes a person unique. Personality isn't a reflection of intelligence, and it's not a measure of skills or abilities.

If you are a parent of more than one child, you can attest to the fact that each child is different. Often your children's personalities are apparent practically from the moment they are born. One child is happy and never fussy from the day she's born. Your second child seems to have been born with a mandate to try to sleep as little as possible and cry at every possible opportunity. Does any of this sound familiar?

Or, observe how your friends interact with others. Do some of your friends perpetually worry about something, while others seem to be unfailingly carefree and fun-loving? This is another example of how different personalities are apparent in everyday situations. While some scientists believe that personality is set from birth, others believe that outside influences shape your personality over time. This nature versus nurture debate is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. Whether you believe that personality is wired from birth or that life experiences fundamentally change your personality, this book will help you because its focus is on using observable behaviors to recognize your own and others' personality styles. Personality style is the way a person acts when he or she is able to do things his or her own way. Most people are consistent enough in their behavior to allow you to predict their behavior. With that knowledge, you can change your behavior in any given situation to minimize misunderstandings and improve communication.

Key Developments in Understanding Personality

As noted, this is not the first book to consider the development of personality and how personality styles affect our lives and our relationships, and it's certainly not meant to serve as a reference tool or textbook. For that, I recommend Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research by Howard S. Friedman and Miriam W. Schustack (Prentice Hall, 5th ed., 2010). Explorations of personality and the source of its development in humans can be traced at least back to the Greek physician Hippocrates more than 2,400 years ago.

Hippocrates (c. 460 BC–c. 377 BC) was a Greek physician who suggested that our personality was affected by the balance and flow of various bodily fluids (humors) through the body. Hippocrates also associated each personality temperament with one of the four elements (fire, air, water, and earth; see Figure 1.1).

Hippocrates believed that people with a higher concentration of yellow bile were choleric. These people tended to have more energy and to be more bold and ambitious than others. Those with more blood tended to be more sanguine and exhibited optimistic, impulsive, and pleasure-seeking characteristics. Phlegmatic people were thought to have an abundance of phlegm and could be spotted because they were calm, quiet, and kind. Anyone with high levels of black bile, Hippocrates labeled as melancholic, since people with this personality were usually independent, introspective, and more apt to be perfectionists (see Table 1.1).

While Hippocrates' science and labels were incorrect, he was right about the four basic temperaments found in human nature, and so this theory has endured for 2,400 years. In fact, it wasn't until 1926 that William Moulton Marston refined and described precisely the four humors that Hippocrates described.

Carl Jung (1875–1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher whose work was influenced by Hippocrates' four humors. He was the first person to label and describe the concepts of introverted and extroverted personality types. These were paired with four functions—feeling, thinking, sensation, and intuition—to create eight personality types. Jung's work, in turn, influenced many others, including Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, who developed The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

William Moulton Marston (1893–1947) published a book in 1928 called Emotions of Normal People. Prior to the publication of this book, most research into personality and behavior had been focused on the criminally insane. Marston thought that an understanding of personality was important for everyone, so he focused his attention on observable and measurable behavior that anyone might notice and interpret. Based on his research, he suggested that behavior should be categorized into four basic styles based on two separate personality dimensions.

He defined one dimension as the individual's perception of the environment around him—that is, whether it was favorable or unfavorable. The other dimension he defined was the individual's perception of his own power within the environment, or whether the person viewed himself as more powerful or less powerful within the environment.

Over time, these dimensions were further refined and different names or labels emerged. The research team at HRDQ called these dimensions assertiveness and expressiveness. The assertiveness dimension is the degree of effort you make to influence others, while the expressiveness dimension is the degree of effort you make when revealing your emotions to others. When put

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Introduction xiii

Part I Understanding Personality Style

1 What is Personality Style and Why Does It Matter? 3

2 The Two Dimensions of Personality: Assertiveness and Expressiveness 17

Part II How to Recognize Your Own and Others' Personality Style

3 Recognizing Personality Styles 35

4 When Styles Collide 57

Part III Personality Style in the Real World-a Style for Every Situation

5 Styles and Communication 79

6 Managing and Leading People of Every Stripe and Color 99

7 Working on Teams 125

8 You Can Get Along with Your Boss 149

Part IV Using Personality Styles to Advance Your Career

9 Plant Where You'll Bloom 177

10 Bloom Where You're Planted 201

What's Your Personality Style? 225

Notes 229

Acknowledgments 233

Index 235

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