If your household contains more than one person, it is pretty fair to say that you are not all alike. Personalities differ and no one is better than another. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. I’ve given many workshops on the four basic personality types and how best to understand and interact successfully. As a teacher, or as a parent, understanding that our kids are not clones of us nor of anyone else. Life will go more smoothly if the adult adapts to meet the needs of others’ personalities. Unless you are totally narcissistic then you should stop here.
My visual mind has color coded these types as Orange, Blue, White and Red. The Oranges are spontaneous, fun loving and sometimes flamboyant.
The Blues are very neat, organized and schedule oriented. These might be the engineer types. Totally practical.
White is an easy going, go along to get along. These are the worker bees. Their laid back manner makes them very likable but can be passive to a point.
The take charge, bossy types are the Reds. These folks make good leaders and are not interested in the details. They prefer to get to the point and don’t bother with non-essentials.
Most people have a little bit of each color but one or two will be more dominant. I was the oldest girl with one older and three younger siblings. It wasn’t long before I earned the nick name of Sarge! I am not patient with the laid back types nor with the frivolous, fun folks. Those folks waste my time when I just want to get it done!
In my family I learned to recognize that my husband is an Orange and as long as I can make a boring task seem like fun we’re good to go. He is the fun guy to be in any group. The Oranges love to tell a good story and feel that all the details are essential to understanding what he wants to relate. But I, being task oriented just want him to get to the point.
My secondary trait is in the blue field, so I want to get things organized, filed, labeled and color coded. I like to stick to the scheduled plans and then as the bossy one, I’ll take charge.
The poor oranges who don’t abide much by schedules are driven nuts with the likes of me and and the White who doesn’t make any waves. That is not because of lack of caring about the project at hand but because they like to keep the peace.
When I was training and supervising student teachers I liked to take them through a little personality test in order to identify their own dominant traits. Know thyself before judging others and learn to form more effective groups in the classroom.
The fun began when I grouped them for a small group activity by their dominant trait. The task given to them was to create a lesson plan to introduce fractions. They had to complete the outline in 15 minutes.
I prowled around the room listening and recording some of their comments. The Orange group was animated, loud and full of creative ideas and never got the task done because they were having so much fun generating ideas.
The Blue group quickly organized a good clear sequence of steps to accomplish the goal. They wrote it up and were finished long before the time was up.
The White group chatted quietly, threw out a few ideas and kept the plan quite simple.
The competitive, argumentative group was, you guessed it, the Reds. They did not settle on a plan because each one aggressively pushed for their own idea. They were all the controlling type.
In the debriefing when the time was up, it became apparent that each group was somewhat dysfunctional because they needed the balance of the different types to function efficiently as a group with a goal to be reached. Every good group needs idea people, organizers, good workers and leaders. None is superior because each lends their won expertise.
This is a good paradigm for understanding the personal traits of the members of our family or coworkers. I once had a boss that was the easy going White type that could not make decisions quickly. Knowing that he needed time to process what I might be proposing, I usually went in with a quick summary of what I wanted and said I’d be back later to discuss the details and his ideas. This worked every time. If I had pushed for an immediate decision I would have met a brick wall.
In a future blog I’ll explain the importance of an “Advance Warning System” to reduce push backs and outbursts. Understanding how others view the world and trying to present ideas in ways that match their needs is only fair (and that too is a topic for another day) and gets more done with less stress all around. It takes all kinds working together harmoniously to get a job done. Know thyself and Know thy kids!