The Different Personality Types at Work
If you’ve ever noticed you work particularly well with one of your colleagues, the likelihood is that you’ve linked up with a personality type that complements your own. Conversely, you might struggle to be productive with other members of your team - perhaps they work best in silence, need a tidy desk to get anything done, or prefer a chatty environment to stimulate their productivity levels. In fact, a 2019 study by Oxford University's Saïd Business School found that workers are 13% more productive when happy.
Learning how to readjust your communication style, or even office space, can be an invaluable tool in reaching your own potential, as well as your colleagues’. So whether you’re looking to improve your own office relationships, or learn how to manage a variety of personality types - we’ve got all the information you’ll need.
What Personality Type Am I?
There are countless ways to categorise personality types, and no definitive answer can be applied to anyone. But we can fairly comprehensively classify people as either extroverts or introverts, thinkers or feelers.
Whether or not you rely on judgement or perception, sense or intuition, all play a part in defining your personality type within the framework of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
The MBTI is a particularly famous theory, the essence of which states that ‘much seemingly random variation in behaviour is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgement.’ Because of that, the MBTI can be used in a professional context to provide insight into how people work - both alone and together.
The Different Personality Types
Familiarising yourself with the styles of different personality types can be a helpful way to gain insight into, and improve, our professional relationships - both with ourselves and our colleagues.
Once you’ve decided on your preference in each category, your personality type can be expressed as a code with four letters, for instance:
ENTJ personality types would typically be driving organisers, planners, vision focused, decisive, strategic, and logical.
ISTJ personality types are likely to be quiet, serious, dependable, practical, realistic, and loyal.
ESTP personality types usually exhibit tolerance, pragmatism, energy, spontaneity, flexibility and are good at problem-solving.
Obviously, these have implications for the development of your interpersonal and office relationships. For example, your line manager may work best with abstract data and not specific detail, you may be a person who prefers to work alone rather than in groups, or your colleagues might be extroverts, so learning how to adapt your behaviour to align with different personality types in the office is an important skill.
We know that our physiological systems are highly responsive to positive social interactions. In fact, in a 2010 study, Gable and Gosnell found that the brain releases oxytocin in response to social contact - which is a powerful hormone linked to motivation to help others in the workplace.
That’s why factors like managerial practice, customer focus, decision making, teamwork, and communication can all be considered vital elements of our working lives - if we find the right professional balance, so do our bodies.
How Different Personality Types Work Together
In an ideal world, we’d enjoy the company of everyone we work with. And whilst that might be true for a lucky few, we can’t get along with everyone all the time. . Learning how to deal with this comes with time and experience, but it might be helpful to discover more about personality type compatibility, and how certain people can work better together.
If you’ve got a working relationship that feels strained, there are steps you can take - and a few things to avoid doing - which might make things a little easier at work. Conversely, if you get on a little too well with a colleague (perhaps they’re a matching personality type), you might need to learn how to put boundaries in place to make sure working together remains productive and professional.
Dr Charles Seashore has written extensively on personality types, where he argues ‘At work, at home, and in our communities, our satisfactions are increasingly tied to our skills in building relationships with a wide variety of people, not just those who share our particular perspective.’ Which is to say, investing our time in nurturing a variety of workplace relationships is time well spent!
Building Professional Relationships
Although you might not naturally gravitate towards every one of your colleagues, there’s no reason not to pursue a good repartee with them nonetheless. The key components of building strong professional relationships are:
Trust - feeling able to rely on your colleagues is essential
Acceptance - accepting and understanding each others’ roles
Self-awareness - being able to define your needs and wants
Open communication - asking questions and getting to know each other
Self-regulation - keeping long-term goals in mind in the face of emotion
Empathy - making the effort to understand the feelings of colleagues
Social skills - teamwork, conflict resolution, problem solving, are all vital parts of establishing and maintaining interpersonal dynamics
To put that into a more digestible context - your approach to work might be a little more laissez-faire than one of your team members, but you can stave off any potential awkwardness by taking extra care to be especially punctual and professional in any joint projects.
In fact, a 2017 study carried out by Geue argues that when relationships in the workplace are characterised by cooperation, trust, and fairness, the reward centre of the brain is activated. This encourages future interactions that promote employee trust, respect, and confidence, with employees believing the best in each other and inspiring each other in their performance.
It comes as no surprise, then, that a 1998 study by Dunbar and Dunbar found that when individuals experience social isolation in the workplace, the region of the brain that is activated is the same as if physical pain had been experienced.
This is part of the reason why learning about conflict resolution is so vital in a professional environment. Sometimes, even when you’ve done the work to adapt to working with a different personality type, conflicts still arise; it's human nature!
With this in mind, team leaders should work to minimise negative interactions between employees by proactively mediating and resolving differences, fostering a culture of open communication that prioritises trust and relationship building. As Bolden and Gosling found out during a 2006 study, it is crucial that the needs of both employees and employers are met, otherwise businesses can be impeded by counterproductive and destructive workplace practices - like poor conflict management.
Some of the benefits of building healthy workplace relationships include:
Increased career satisfaction
Improved confidence and productivity
A feeling of moral support
Higher retention rates - which is particularly important for employers
Making a mindful effort to offset any anxiety or difficulties you may encounter between different personality types stands you in great stead in a professional context.
How Offices Can Cater to Every Personality Type
Managing different personality types shouldn’t just be up to individual employees, though. Modern offices have an important role to play in creating environments which suit a whole spectrum of characteristics. In fact, there are a number of facilities and processes businesses can put in place to ensure their offices are flexible spaces suitable for everyone using it.
Pay As You Go
For example, by offering pay-as-you-go options for those who prefer to switch up their workspace more regularly, we’ve circumvented the requirement to sign a long-term lease - allowing Bruntwood customers the flexibility modern workers have come to expect.
Exercise at Work
Additionally, amenities like gyms and changing rooms allow our customers to integrate activity into their daily routine, so fitting in a workout at lunch has never been easier. This means that prioritising wellbeing, both mental and physical, can only ever benefit employees and employers alike - whatever their personality type.
Choose Your Space
Whilst dedicated quiet rooms might not suit everyone, we recognise that for some of our customers, they’re totally necessary. From individualists who prefer solo work in a quiet environment, to extroverts who know that if they’re allowed to talk, they won’t get any work done - quiet rooms can work for a number of personality types.
Similarly, breakout spaces play an important role in an agile workplace, giving workers the option to have impromptu meetings or ideation sessions without worrying about booking rooms. So too do collaboration spaces, which form a vital part of our vision for a modern working environment, where conversation and ideas can flow without interruption.
Strong ties between coworkers provide opportunities to facilitate innovative thinking. According to a 2015 study by Wang, Fang, Qureshi, and Janssen, the strong ties developed by social interactions assist innovators in the search for inspiration, sponsorship, and support within the workplace. We all have preferred working conditions and businesses are recognising the benefits of catering to their employees’ individual needs, in order to create productive, inspiring workplaces and ultimately benefit everyone.
At Bruntwood, we understand the value of a diverse workforce. With each different personality type comes varied strengths, perspectives and experiences - all of which contribute to a vibrant professional environment.
There are clear benefits for both employees and employers to learn how to navigate a myriad of personality types, so our professional environments absolutely must reflect this diversity. We’re proud of the efforts we’ve made to accommodate every personality type in our spaces, and invite you to come and find the best option for you.