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Managing Personalities in the Workplace

Dealing with different personalities and communication styles can be challenging – which is why we dedicated Monday the 4th of April to understanding the psychology of people in the workplace.

Expert in Management Training, Jill McCrum from JEM Management Training, delved straight into the content by getting us to complete a Personality Style questionnaire. After plotting the results on a line graph, we were able to identify our dominant personality style within the workplace, based on the highly interesting psychology concept -the Insights Discovery Model®.

The Insights Discovery Model is a tool used in psychology to describe how people approach their work and relationships. It is a basic four-colour wheel, with each colour indicating a personality. (Diagram courtesy to JEM training.)

  • Traits of Cool Blue: analytical, likes procedures, organised, thorough, attentive to detail
  • Traits of Earth Green: builds long term relationships, good listener, calm, team player, supportive
  • Traits of Sunshine Yellow: friendly and engaging, adaptable, imaginative, approachable, buoyant, extroverted
  • Traits of Fiery Red: confident, determined, result-focused, extroverted, bold, driven

Although your personality can be a mix of two adjacent colours, studies have proven that people show very few / minimal traits of the colour which is directly opposite (green is opposite to red, blue is opposite to yellow).  This was a very interesting concept, and once we were able to understand our personality style, it was time to determine that of others.

There are three questions to address when determining someone’s dominant personality style:

  1. Are they introverted or extroverted?
  2. Are they task or people-oriented?
  3. Which personality style are they not?

Following a break for morning tea, Jill covered the priorities, motivation, fears, strengths, and limitations of each personality style. As an activity, our attendees were organised into groups based on their personality colour and given the task of creating a flyer for an upcoming social event. True to their nature, the yellows created an enthusiastic and inviting poster for a “Christmas in July” event but didn’t provide any organizational details; greens created a poster for an Easter Egg hunt for the whole family but forgot to add a date; and blues created a more formal poster advertising a Sundowner Whale-watch cruise, mostly showing the date, time, and location.

Similar interactive sections followed, helping us to gain insight into the priorities of each personality style. As a summary:

  • When dealing with blue personalities: give them details and get it right
  • When dealing with green personalities: show them you care
  • When dealing with yellow personalities: involve them
  • When dealing with red personalities: be right, be brief, be gone!

Dealing With Difficult Personalities:

Difficult behaviour can be caused by the need for power and control; fear (of failure, humiliation, rejection, etc.); poor self-esteem; limited coping skills; frustration, anger, or desperation; need for attention.

After our lunch break, Jill covered the 9 types of difficult behaviours encountered within the workplace, describing the likely personality style to exhibit the behaviour, their motivation, the impact on others, and the strategies to manage this behaviour.

As a very general overview:

It is important NOT to:It is important to:
Let their behaviour get to youLet them have their say
Argue back or tell them to calm downTalk WIIFM (what’s in it for me)
Tell them what to doFocus on results

Fiery Red personalities tend to exhibit steamroller, explosive, controlling or manipulative behaviours.

It is important NOT to:It is important to:
Let their behaviour get to youUse searchlight (open, awkward) questions
Explode at themDocument discussions
Provide them with ammunitionBe assertive and consistent

Sunshine Yellow tend to exhibit sniper /gossip, explosive, and shirker (irresponsible) behaviours.

Earth Green can exhibit shirker or people-pleaser behaviours.

It is important NOT to:It is important to:
Take advantage of themWrite down their commitments
Explode at themGet them to summarise and set clear time frames
 Talk consequences

Cool Blues may exhibit downer, manipulative, or stubborn behaviours.

It is important NOT to:It is important to:
Show excess enthusiasm or optimismBe patient and talk WIIFM
Argue with themCriticize themGive ultimatumsAsk for their inputShow them someone they respect who is doing things differentlyProvide feedback on the impact of their behaviourProvide options and choices

Overall, the workshop provided by Jill (JEM Management Training) was an interactive, in-depth, and interesting session. Human personalities are at times difficult to determine and deal with, however, our attendees have walked away with critical skills necessary to optimize not only the workplace but also their personal interactions.

We are very grateful to Jill for her energy, time, and knowledge, and look forward to running more workshops with JEM Management Training in the future.

Find Jill McCrum’s professional profile on LinkedIn:

To explore the Insights Discovery Model® further, visit:

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