How to work with a sceptic vs. a promoter

Skeptic vs. Promoter Personality Traits

Whether a person tends to be a skeptic or promoter personality has to do with how they react to new ideas and information. Understanding this trait can help you hire, train, and manage your employees more effectively.

What does it mean to be a skeptic?

A skeptic is someone who needs to ask questions, collect evidence, and see proof before they accept something as true.

What are the characteristics of a skeptical person?

A few signs that a person has the skeptical personality trait:

  • They don’t take things at face value.
  • They tend to look for the story behind the story to find out what’s really going on.
  • They ask a lot of questions and follow up on any answers that they don’t understand or which don’t seem quite right.
  • They’re cautious about promoting new ideas, concepts, and products.

How to work with a skeptic

Learning to embrace the skeptical personality trait in your employees will help you tap into their unique capacity for questioning and thoroughness.

How to train a skeptical employee
  • Skeptical employees may not always be ready to jump on the bandwagon of a new process. They’ll want to hear the background behind any changes and may be lukewarm about moving forward. Providing information up front can help get skeptics on board.
  • If the employee doesn’t seem 100% sold on a certain procedure or task, acknowledge their concerns and ask for their buy-in. You might say, “I can see that you’re not sure whether this new software is going to work for our team. Can you please try using it for this whole next week, and then we’ll check in about how things are going?”
How to motivate someone who tends to be skeptical at work
  • Don’t expect your skeptical employees to be promoters. Skeptics are natural investigators, not cheerleaders; their opinion tends to hold more weight once they’ve formed it, but they’ll express that confidence differently than promoters do.
  • Give them the information they crave. A skeptical person hates walking into a situation blind; they want to know the background behind decisions, procedures, and new initiatives.
How to give feedback to a skeptic
  • While many skeptical people are open to feedback from managers they trust, in the extreme, skeptical people may also question feedback in general. Have examples and data on hand to back up your feedback on performance.
  • Sometimes, skeptical employees can kill new ideas with doubts and questions, especially in brainstorming sessions. Be honest if you see this pattern with a skeptic on your team. You may need to say, “I appreciate the insight, but for this first stage, I’d like to keep throwing out ideas for what might work instead of considering the downsides.”

What is the opposite of a skeptic personality?

While a skeptical employee might have a million questions when they hear a new idea, the promoter will have a million ideas about how to bring it to life. Let’s talk about promoters and how they operate in the workplace.

What does it mean to be a promoter?

Promoter personalities are much more accepting of new ideas and information, especially if it comes from a trusted source. They’re willing to take things on faith and move forward.

Promoters operate differently based on their overall personality type and the degree to which they possess this particular personality trait. Someone who is a mild promoter may start a new project with optimism about how it’s going to go; someone who is a strong promoter will continually be hyping the latest thing they’re passionate about.

What are the characteristics of a promoter?

A few signs that someone tends to be a promoter personality type:

  • They’re quick to get excited about ideas they like, with few questions asked.
  • They share their enthusiasm with others and love connecting people they know to things they care about.
  • They’re generally more trusting and optimistic; where the skeptic says “Why?”, the promoter says “Why not?”
  • In the extreme, their tendency towards “hype” might rub certain personalities the wrong way.

How to work with a promoter

Promoters can be a huge asset to your workplace, especially when it comes to getting employees and clients on board with change.

How to train a promoter personality
  • People with a promoter’s mindset can be easier to train because they accept and run with new processes and ideas more easily.
  • You may want to loop promoters into your training process, as their enthusiasm for new ideas can be contagious.
How to motivate a promoter
  • Motivators need the realism offered by skeptics, but they also need space to dream big and try out new ideas. If you yourself tend to be a skeptic, think about how you can offer a counterpoint without dimming the promoter’s natural enthusiasm.
  • Promoters tend to enjoy connecting people and ideas. If their workloads don’t tap into this trait, you may want to suggest employee resource groups, committees, and other outlets for their enthusiasm.
How to give feedback to an employee who is a promoter
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of positive promoters on team morale. Thank the promoters on your team when they use their energy and influence to bring others on board with your team’s mission.
  • Sometimes, promoters can jump on board with new ideas too quickly. Encourage them to slow down, ask questions, and consider the downsides when it’s necessary.

Which is a better worker: skeptic vs. promoter?

It depends! There are certain roles that may more naturally suit one personality trait over another; for example, journalists need to be skeptical to keep digging until they hit truth, while creative agents live to hype their clients.

But even those roles have room for variation. Healthy workplaces embrace a balance, with skeptics slowing down the process to make sure things are done right and promoters pushing things forward and casting a vision for the future.

Of course, you should also take all of the personality trait descriptions into account when you’re considering the unique personalities of the people on your team.

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