“I can’t stand it when she …”
“He’s always …”
“She never …”
Sound familiar? These are quotes you might hear everyday from co-workers and friends. They all have one thing in common. They are shortchanging both the person complaining and the person being complained about.
If you are having a difficult time with someone on your team (or your boss, or someone else on your volunteer committee, for instance), consider shifting your thinking to these ideas:
Opposite personality types give you new perspectives
If you are a responsible, structured, organized SJ personality type (Gold), the people who partner with you probably rely on you to research a time-tested, proven way to accomplish a task and persevere all the way to the end to see it gets done. A “forget the rules, just get it done now” SP personality type (Red) might shake you up a little with their bold, risky and rogue suggestions, but taking a few of those suggestions might allow you to overcome a challenge or finish earlier than you thought you could. A conceptual, option-generating, forward thinking NF or NT personality type (Green or Blue) might offer a plethora of ideas that might, if you are willing to test them out before pronouncing that they would never work, make a task easier or make a project run smoother. And these opposite types can benefit from that database you carry in your head of solutions that have worked for others in the past and are 90% likely to work now.
Their strengths can free you from your weaknesses
I work with someone who is a Green (NF), same as I am. However, she has a very strong Judging preference and I have very strong Perceiving traits (read more about Judging vs Perceiving preferences at work here). When we partner, I make no bones about it – she’s taking the lead on planning and
nagging reminding duties. I tell her up front that I will drive her crazy, and that I give her full rights to stop me when I follow a crazy tangent come up with a new idea midway through the project.
In return, I can effortlessly generate idea after idea and respond completely in the moment when an unexpected challenge comes up without being ruffled. We complement each other, in large part because we are transparent with each other about our weaknesses.
If you allow and even expect your opposite to be strong in their area and assert yourself in your own strengths, it shores up your weaknesses and highlights your superpowers. Together, you succeed – with more satisfaction for each of you and far less stress.
They can solve what you can’t – and vice versa
There’s nothing like being a playful Otter (tendency toward Extraverted and Perceiving preferences) and hearing tales of woe from a mournful Beaver (tendency toward Introverted and Judging preferences). The ideas for overcoming Beaver barriers come hard and fast. You feel victorious and they look at you like you’re a miracle worker. Or they look at you like you’re insane. It depends on how much faith they put in you, really.
Same two options if you are a hard-charging “just get the job done and consequences be damned” Lion (tendency toward Extraverted or Thinking preferences) or a peaceful “let’s just get along and find a way to work together” Retreiver (tendency toward Introverted and Feeling preferences). If they perceive you as credible and successful, they are likely to give the least risky idea you put forward a try. If not, they will immediately dismiss your ideas as the rants of an idiot.
By the same token, when another personality type’s dreams crash and burn, a Beaver is likely to take over the chaos and return it to some semblance of order. The Beaver feels a sense of having done the right and responsible thing, and the partner is relieved that things are going well again. Or is wildly resentful. It depends on how critical and controlling the Beaver is, really.
The next time you have to work with someone who drives you crazy, how about picking up on their personality type cues and finding a silver lining to that dark cloud? An appreciation of their opposite personality type strengths might be just the thing to get you both on the road to working in harmony together.