The Four Basic Temperaments
We need not look very far to find an "A" personality in our midst. They are the ones that are always "looking for a better way" or "building a better mouse trap". They have an entrepreneurial streak and don't mind taking risks in order to receive the rewards that can go along with them.
The "A" personality is usually very independent, direct, and to the point. They will probably tell you to "get to the bottom line" or give them the "executive summary" to read. They don't like routine and often delegate routine chores to someone else.
The "A" Personality enjoys change, and one of their biggest fears is falling into a routine. They are very focused on what they are doing and are almost always relatively insensitive to others that might be around them. If they tell somebody something, or explain it, they'll say it once and expect that everybody listening understood because they're ready to move on.
"A" type personalities are often found as business owners, managers, sales people (especially straight commission), or any position requiring a very "direct" person that typically "takes charge" and forges ahead. They are very decisive and persistent in getting what they want and need.
The "B" type loves to party, travel, and be part of groups, and is often the center of attention. They love excitement and are often impatient and demanding as a result of being a "high energy" type. They love the limelight and the "hype" and often do very well in sales, advertising, marketing, public speaking, party planning, travel, and other positions where they can have a "good time" while working.
The "B" personality is as supportive of others as they are direct in their approach. Most people enjoy being around them or watching or listening to them "perform". Many radio and TV personalities, actors and high-profile speakers are often "B" personalities. It is very important for the "B" personality to be liked by others and can be easily hurt if they think someone doesn't care for them. They may take it very personally.
A good example of a "B" personality was the part Bette Midler played in the movie "Beaches" where her character was a big success in movies and on the stage. An outstanding line from the movie was, when having her best friend over who she hasn't seen in years, she takes her on a whirlwind tour of her elaborate apartment then says: "... enough about me, let's talk about you. So, what do you think of me?"
Certainly, most "B" personalities are not that "strong", but it does provide a good mental picture of some of the characteristics to look for in the "B" type.
This type often does well in sales as they tend to be very talkative and outgoing with people and are normally quite persuasive.
If you want to picture a typical "C" type personality, think of your accountant, an engineer, or a computer programmer or analyst. The "C" thrives on details, accuracy, and takes just about everything seriously. They are usually very neat, dress fashionably, and are very calculated and precise in just about everything they do.
The "C" doesn't like "hype", rather, they want facts... information from which they can verify the details and make a decision. They are very consistent in everything they do because everything has an order or procedure; thus they can be predictable at times and often very dependable, however, don't expect them to make a decision when you want it, as it will only come after they have checked all the facts and are satisfied that everything is correct.
They are deep, thoughtful, and usually very sensitive. They enjoy knowing how and why things are the way they are rather than taking anything at face value. They often make good customer service people and sales people, especially if the product to support or sell is something "technical" or involves numbers. They are loyal and patient and can leave customers with a good feeling that they're somebody that really cares. However, managers may need to make sure they don't spend too much time with details if the objective or expected outcome doesn't warrant the investment of their time and expertise.
The typical "D" personality doesn't like change, preferring instead, to have a set of guidelines from which to follow and they won't mind doing the same thing over and over. They are usually more motivated by security and benefits and are likely to get the "gold watch" if the company can provide the security they seek.
"D" types are very supportive of others and are often the type that others turn to when they have a problem. Their compassion level is usually quite high and they often seem very happy and content with themselves and life in general. They are usually punctual and consistent. They add "balance" and support in the workplace and may be the champion of the "under dog".
Where personalities may clash is where opposites are working with each other or one working for another in a business environment. However, opposites often attract on a personal level.
Opposite Corners are Opposite Personalities. The "A" and "D" personalities are opposite of each other. The "A" likes change, is impatient, and a risk-taker. The "D" dislikes changes, is very patient, and thinks the "A" is crazy for taking so many risks preferring instead to be very steady and seek the security of knowing what you have and what you can count on.
The "B" and "C" personalities are opposites as well. The "B" loves the glamour and the hype, the "C" insists on knowing if there is any "substance" behind it all. Where the "B" can be messy, the "C" is neat and orderly and doesn't thing "by the book". The "B" is Extroverted, the "C" is Introverted.
Opposite personalities can compliment one another if they try to understand the other's perspective. Perhaps this is why opposites often marry and lead a very full life, since each makes up for the other's weaknesses and each brings important characteristics into the relationship.
However, opposites can be bad, especially if undetected and not properly managed in the work environment. We have seen many examples where a client will call us complaining of turnover in the Sales department, for example. They need a better way to "test" sales people because the ones they hire never seem to last long.
After testing their sales staff, we sometimes find that their personalities should be very good for the job they are doing, but when we test their manager or supervisor, we find that they are being managed by an Opposite Personality who expects them to do things in a way that is incompatible with the sales people's personality.
An example you'll see us use often is Oscar Madison and Felix Unger from the old TV show, "The Odd Couple". It isn't hard to imagine the friendly, outgoing "B" type Oscar being a top sales person. He makes friends and builds relationships wherever he goes and seems to do the work of 2 or 3 other people.
If the neat, precise "C" type Felix is his manager and is always demanding that every blank on every sales report is filled out, neatly, and on-time every time, it isn't surprising to see that this won't work out for long. Nothing is "wrong" with either person, they just need to have more insight into each other's personalities and find reasonable middle ground from which to work. However, if the manager is inflexible and demands perfection in everything they do, it isn't surprising to see a lot of turnover in the people that would work for him, especially if the ideal candidate for the sales job was a "B" personality.
Almost everyone has been in this position at one time or another. Even though two people may have opposite personalities, we also have a factor called "Adaptability" in our human nature, and when presented with a better understanding of what is needed, especially in understanding other people, many people can adapt and the results are often almost immediate. Ask yourself, "could this be a problem in my company?"
We've tried to present you with a very general overview of the 4 basic personality types here to illustrate the differences, yet highlight how every company has a need for all 4 personality types within the organization. The key is having the right tools to accurately identify these traits and know how to position the various types in the organization so they have the best chance of personal success and compatibility with managers and co-workers.