By Dean Evans, Business Coach
I’m forever reminded of a comment my behavioural profiling mentor once offered up when I was first learning the ins-and-outs of human behaviour some 5 years ago.
So much so that I still smile when I think of his little quip; “people are fascinating… or other words that start with F”.
Like many before you, your mind is probably beginning to run towards a particular word, which just goes to support another of his famous teachings that people are more predictable than you think. But you have to know what to look for…
To be totally open with you, I love the profiling work I get to do with clients. And regardless of whether it’s business, sporting, personal or private circles, there is one common principle I’ve come to appreciate across all of the relationships we seek to navigate in our lives.
And that one common principle is this…
There are no personality clashes.
Does that shock you? Are you shaking your head in strong disagreement? Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself “that’s fine to think BUT you don’t have to work with Jackie and put up with the way she behaves every single day!” And you might be right in assuming I don’t know Jackie… or Johnny… or Jennie… or Jeffery.
In truth, it’s not personality that causes conflict, chaos and clashes in our relationships – because personality is flexible. You’re never the same ‘you’ when you’re interacting with those around you. Rather you develop enough flexibility in your actions to present the best version of you to that individual in order to build and maintain a functional relationship that serves both you and them.
So, that begs the question…
If there are no personality clashes, what really causes the kind of clashes that disrupts workplaces, damages friendships and destroys relationships the world over?
The answer is our values.
Let me explain…Personality may be flexible; but your values are fixed. If honesty is important to you then it doesn’t become less important in certain situations. It is important in all situations.
But the best example for demonstrating my point is through the value of discipline. Let’s say you work in close quarters with a colleague and you both regard yourself as having high levels of discipline in the work you do. You demonstrate your discipline by staying back late to tidy up the loose ends in preparation for tomorrow so you can get straight into tomorrow’s tasks.
Your colleague demonstrates their discipline by leaving work every day at 5:15pm sharp to go home and be a mother, father, wife, husband or partner because enjoying dinner together as a family is important to them.
Who’s right? And who’s wrong?
The answer is neither…
But the potential for you and your colleague to ‘clash’ over time is significantly enhanced if you both remain firmly inflexible in the way you choose to work. Yet a tiny adjustment in how you work would reduce the risk of a clash.
Because you can change your personality – thus your behaviour – but you can’t change your values.
What’s the lesson?
When you’re in the grip of a potential clash with your colleagues, instead of asking the question “why are they doing that?” ask the better question of “what do they value here?”.
When you know what people value it’s much easier to find a resolution to those pesky personality clashes for good.
Now, there’s a workplace worth working towards…