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Personality Matters

It might have missed my radar growing up but I never took a personality test until recently, it might have been to do with a course I was on. I might have not paid attention to the results, and just took it with a pinch of salt kinda 'good to know' attitude. But things have changed since then.

In coaching, it is important to be aware of personality traits, particularly, at the start of a coaching relationship. This is not only for the benefit of the coach, in understanding the client's personal goals and experiences. But also for the client, as this often provides some useful insight into individual traits or characteristics that influence behaviours in the workplace.

Generally speaking, there are 3 main personality types - Ambiverts, introverts and extroverts. These have broad traits at the highest and most general level often subsuming lower or narrower levels of specific traits. In the workplace, these personalities will be obvious to a lesser or greater degree and can have an impact on their career development. Ambiverts possess both introvert and extrovert traits, also known as introverted extroverts and can switch between the two.

In the workplace, introverts tend to be misunderstood and overlooked particularly where the organisational culture emphasises outspokenness and engaged interpersonal dynamics which leads to the mainstreaming of extroversion as the norm. Introverts, therefore, are misunderstood, overlooked and often times don't feel like they fit in.

Managing or engaging introverts can help remove those barriers, some steps include making the first move (they won't), introducing them to others (i.e in large groups), let them speak (without interrupting), accept that they are comfortable on their own and they prefer one-to-one settings and smaller groups as a means to building relationships. Also, they have leadership potential because they tend to be more reflective and are great decision makers.

However, personalities present only a piece of the puzzle to understanding who you are. Your personality is not the same thing as your identity. Personality awareness can answer some real questions, how you perceive the world, and make decisions. Personality is the way you in which you portray or live in your identity. Identity is who you are and is a whole other discussion too.

In the context of my coaching, I confess - when I took the test a few years ago, my results showed that I was an introvert and advocate, at a score of 75%. This makes total sense as to why I chose this career path and why my professional ambition is to help others step into their full potential. And interestingly enough, most of my clients are introverts or ambiverts. So there is that element of shared empathy which brings value to the relationship. However, that being said, I feel I am more of an ambivert these days. I am moderately comfortable with groups and social interaction but also relish time alone, away from the crowds.

I've discovered that the personality test, I encourage clients to take provides an 'a-ha' moment. It helps to focus our conversations, eliminates a lot of questioning from me, provides a firm foundation to build our relationship. I've learned that having that knowledge to hand has positioned them well at work - given them a renewed sense of confidence and assertiveness. Being an introvert doesn't mean you are invisible, or have nothing to contribute. Introverts choose their moments, they might shy away from situations that don't serve them but they are effective contributors where necessary in the right conditions.

Whatever your personality type is? It is what it is. Focus on what you are good at and what you love doing, you don't have to act and behave like everyone else. And for good measure, just remember that Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Spielberg and JK Rowling are famous introverts. As a Christian, it is a 'good to know' piece of evidence, it doesn't define us or affects our identity. And it shouldn't deter us from who we are called to be.

If you know your personality type, please share it here. It'll be interesting to know the range of personality types of my readers.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

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