Using Your Personality Type to Improve Your Work Life This Year

Darrell 1 week ago 7 comments

It’s been said before, but let’s say it again: as you progress through adulthood, you are likely to spend a heck of a lot of time at work. Whether you’re someplace for just a short bit of your life or you’re on a passionate professional path, if you’re like most people, you probably want to make the most of your time and do the best you can, even if it’s just for a sense of personal satisfaction. (Yeah. A fat paycheck wouldn’t be bad either.) So we decided to help with that as we progress into the New Year.

We decided to look at some of the things that different personality types might do to increase their impact at work and to make their jobs more fulfilling. And while this list is designed to provide suggestions tailored to your personality type, you may find something that is relevant to your job in some other sections. Nothing says you can’t borrow from other personality types.

Analyst Personality Types

Architect (INTJ)

Maybe do more of this: Explore teamwork. The independence usually displayed by Architect personalities may make you wonderfully effective as you reach various goals. You’re independent but not necessarily a loner. Let that shine. If you don’t work alone, you might reach out to your colleagues even more. There are valuable things to gain from a team approach. Look for the value in others. Be curious, and make everybody you work with a pleasant research project. And we know how you feel about research.

Maybe do less of this: Pushing your standards on others (unless it’s part of your job description). Architects often have strong standards, and consequently, you can sometimes make strong demands of yourself. If you work for someone else, they probably appreciate that about you. But remember, not everybody is you, and other people have different styles that push different buttons and pull different levers at different intensity levels. That doesn’t necessarily make them less effective…just different.

Logician (INTP)

Maybe do more of this: Listen more carefully. Your curiosity makes you a good listener – but maybe not always. Your mind is often jumping from subject to subject and scenario to scenario. Your supple brain can be useful. But that flurry of mental activity might sometimes keep you from getting the gist of what is important in a conversation – especially if it involves human resource issues and other “softer” subjects. Maybe you could be more curious about those things?

Maybe do less of this: Overthinking. Yes. There might be 47 ways of looking at the companywide distribution of vacation weeks. If planning vacations is part of your job, brainstorming can be valuable. But if it’s not, most of your colleagues probably don’t have the time or interest in a laundry list of options. You’re free to ruminate all day when you’re on your own, but try to simplify things when working with others. Less is sometimes more.

Commander (ENTJ)

Maybe do more of this: Relax and breathe – for the sake of others. Commander personality types are often serious people. “Serious” carries with it the idea of reliability and a need to be effective. Stay serious. But there may be times when you could consider taking the intensity down a notch – at least if you work with other people. If teamwork is important to you, take a moment and consider which people may need you to relax long enough for them to catch up to you. Real leadership, whether formal or informal, often involves helping others get up to speed. And sometimes, it may just be a matter of letting them finding their own way.

Maybe do less of this: Judging others. As a Commander, you’re probably a people person, so you would likely not judge others out of mean-spiritedness. You generally like people and want the best for them. However, what you don’t like is incompetence. This can make you a little judgmental and impatient. Taking a more tolerant stance doesn’t necessarily mean that you just accept flawed work. But rather than falling into the trap of chastising others, maybe respond by taking a mentor’s role and encouraging them onto a better path.

Debater (ENTP)

Maybe do more of this: Readily accept feedback. You don’t mind feedback if it makes sense to you. Debater personality types generally have an interest in learning more and working better. At the same time, you have a penchant for arguing your case, and you might not always give feedback a full enough hearing before deciding whether or not it makes sense. If you feel resistance to feedback, try to delay judgment longer than you’re accustomed to. Learn to ask for a few minutes and consider whether your resistance is perhaps more reflexive than you might want it to be.

Maybe do less of this: Challenging things. You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t analyze things and look for alternate perspectives. Be you. Pointing out flaws in others’ thinking may even be part of your job description. But consider whether you might need to pick your battles more carefully. Not everything needs to be challenged, and not everyone enjoys jumping into a verbal fray as much as you do. Consider that, sometimes, being cooperative may be more important than being right.

Diplomat Personality Types

Advocate (INFJ)

Maybe do more of this: Practice a Zen approach. Often Advocates take the J (Judging) in INFJ extremely seriously. And what’s wrong with a little order, especially around the workplace? But that can leave these personalities in a world overpopulated with impractical “shoulds” and expectations. If you identify with this, try observing the workplace with Zen-like objectivity, and see how things are rather than how you think they should be. Then meet your tasks and your colleagues where you find them.

Maybe do less of this: Assuming that everyone will find their own way. Almost paradoxically, Advocates can also feel that it’s intrusive to tell someone how they should do something. That’s because they value respecting others’ potentials. Advocate personality types can practice egalitarianism to the extreme. But sometimes people need guidance, and if you’re a colleague, it can be helpful to offer it to coworkers who are struggling. (Always ask.) If you’re in a leadership role, being more involved with the professional development of those you lead can be crucial.

Mediator (INFP)

Maybe do more of this: Be assertive. Mediators are often good-hearted, sensitive people. But these personalities can project their own sensitivity onto others, causing them to hesitate to ask for what they need or want. They may fear appearing offensively pushy, and they certainly don’t want to be that person. The problem is that people sometimes mistake kindness and gentle attitudes for weakness. It may be tempting for some to take advantage of that perceived weakness. You can be a nice person and still display strength by asking for what you want or need. (Not sure how to pull that off? Check out “How Not to Be a Pushover…Even If You’re a Mediator.”)

Maybe do less of this: Coming from an emotional place. Your empathy is your superpower – nonetheless, even superpowers need to be reined in occasionally. Emotions (yours and others) can be tricky in the workplace. There’s nothing wrong with expressing emotions on the job, and we’re totally against repressing them. But the thing about emotions is that they’re sometimes fleeting, and they don’t always come from an objective place. So perhaps step back and explore an emotion before responding from that place, so you don’t end up regretting a rash reaction.

Protagonist (ENFJ)

Maybe do more of this: Explore other roles when you can. Your passion for your work and your drive to perfect your results can lead you to be too focused on one aspect of your job. People with your personality type tend to be pretty selfless. So, in deference to the work, it may not occur to you that others might see you as a one-trick pony if you don’t expand your skills and exposure on the job. Depending on the dynamics of your workplace, this could prevent you from advancing to positions that you are well-suited for. Maybe become a little more of a Renaissance person on the job.

Maybe do less of this: Avoiding necessary conflict (emphasis on “necessary”). The reason we emphasize “necessary” is because Protagonist personalities can be uncomfortable with conflict. You may be tempted to avoid clashing with others at times. That’s certainly a good instinct. But, as you probably know all too well, sometimes opposing forces collide at work, and an argument can’t be circumvented. It would be nice if they didn’t, but… Sometimes hashing out difficult subjects is for the good of the company or the workplace (once again, emphasizing “necessary”). Obviously, you’re not going to search out opportunities to get into a verbal confrontation, but there may be times when standing up for something assertively can get a little heated. But, maybe, stand up you must.

Campaigner (ENFP)

Maybe do more of this: Pay attention to details. As a Campaigner personality type, you’re more of a big-picture, there’s-a-fairer-way-to-do-that kind of worker. Smaller details are probably not at the top of your list of personal priorities. But they are important, and one missed detail can derail a task or a project if you’re not careful. Make it a mindfulness exercise, so you can become aware of as many details as you can. (You don’t have to obsess over them. Just know what they are, and respond if you feel that there is something you need to do.)

Maybe do less of this: Losing focus. You have many great ideas, and you’re always eager to share them with others – especially if they’re about making someone’s life better. However, these potentially great ideas can serve more as a distraction than a valuable offering. When you dwell too much on the many possible scenarios, you may find yourself not giving your all to those things that are present in front of you. Once again, we call on mindfulness. Make it a habit to bring yourself back to the here and now.

Sentinel Personality Types

Logistician (ISTJ)

Maybe do more of this: Create friends and allies at work. You probably keep to yourself at work, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A lot of concentration happens in solitude. But you may find that things are a lot easier – and a lot more enjoyable – if you have somebody you can count on and who can count on you. It’s not about becoming the life of the party. You will undoubtedly remain who you are, with the preferences you’re comfortable with. But maybe if you picked up a few friendly comrades along the path of your work journey, you might find that things run a little more smoothly.

Maybe do less of this: Being pushed by the currents of influence. Logistician personalities are typically loyal, but it’s almost to a fault if they’re not careful. Sometimes it’s important to look at what genuinely feeds your soul rather than what the authorities and influencers in your life think is essential. Don’t worry. It’s probably not in your nature to take too radical of a turn, no matter how much you entertain your own desires and ideas. But maybe focus on those things just a little more?

Defender (ISFJ)

Maybe do more of this: Keep an eye on your work-life balance. Some part of you probably thinks that you should be able to do it all. That part is wrong. Nobody can. Give yourself a break…and some rest…and some fun…and some… You get the idea. When was the last time you felt comfortable just relaxing? Are you getting enough exercise and rest? How are your stress-management skills? Schedule some “me time” into your week. You may feel like you’re AWOL when you take care of yourself, but a few well-placed breaks could make your outstanding work even better.

Maybe do less of this: Clinging too tightly to ideas and notions. You hear it everywhere: “Change is inevitable.” Flexibility has become one of the more important skills in most workplaces. Defender personality types offer consistency as a valuable gift to the workplace. But don’t let that consistency become rigidity. Things move fast these days, and you might find yourself left behind if you don’t flow with the currents of change.

Executive (ESTJ)

Maybe do more of this: Get to know the people who work with you. It’s not that Executive personality types aren’t interested in people. It’s likely the opposite. But you can also get lost in your goals and let the people you work with become like nameless, faceless chess pieces that are there primarily to lead to your success. Okay. That may be a little over the top. Your behavior is not necessarily nefarious. It’s just that reaching that goal becomes so darn important, and you don’t necessarily care how those you work with reach it. But if you take the time to get to know the colleagues in the trenches with you, you may find treasures otherwise missed.

Maybe do less of this: Forgetting to stop and smell the roses. It’s a little hackneyed to say, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” But it’s also essentially true. The value of appreciating the road to your goals is that you learn so much about yourself and others. These lessons can be applied to your professional development and personal growth. Getting results is a desirable thing. But what if you could get results and more? What’s amazing about the work you’re doing today?

Consul (ESFJ)

Maybe do more of this: Communicate interpersonal matters clearly. People with your personality type tend to get tangled up, trying to meet goals while also wanting to keep everybody safe and happy at the same time. This can become messy, and your intentions can become unclear to others when you are trying to be both “Consul, the friend and protector” and “Consul, the objective professional.” Communicating more clearly can remove some of the confusion and help others better understand your attempts at balancing both results and goodwill.

Maybe do less of this: Being the rules police. Unless, of course, that’s your job title. But if it isn’t, be careful not to push the standards that are so important to you onto other people. Doing so may alienate those you work with, and you work better when everybody is on board and getting along. That doesn’t mean forsaking the things that you value. It just means worrying less about how others respond to them.

Explorer Personality Types

Virtuoso (ISTP)

Maybe do more of this: Work on longer-term goal-setting. Your spontaneity is something to embrace and value. You are great at shaking off the doldrums with your novel perspectives – people with your personality type like experimenting in the moment. It likely resonates with you more than a lot of planning and strategizing. But aiming at a target that is further down the road can help you stay aligned with more steadfast goals and provide a clearer vision. The whim-of-the-day can be stimulating, but it may need some balance. Take some time to think about the (meaning your) future.

Maybe do less of this: Forgetting to ask. Like spontaneity, your independence is a good thing. It can help you be more proactive as you take things on without being burdened by an entourage of supervisors and coworkers. But it can also place you outside of the loop. A balance between independence and collaboration may be the key to a smooth and successful work life. It might help to check in with others occasionally and discover what’s going on with them. Yeah. They say it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. But that may have a very limited appeal among those you work with.

Adventurer (ISFP)

Maybe do more of this: Trust but verify your instincts. Adventurer personalities see the world in their own unique way. Fresh perspectives should always be welcomed, don’t you think? But fresh doesn’t always mean effective. If you’re working with other people, seek feedback before going too far on your own. Even if you work by yourself, the feedback of others can be valuable. Your sensitivity could make receiving others’ opinions desirable, intimidating, or both. But, regardless of any apprehension you might have, it can pay to allow a more objective perspective to help you gauge your ideas’ usefulness.

Maybe do less of this: Elevating “how” questions too far above “why” questions. Your practical creativity is a valuable part of who you are in life and probably at work. You’re usually brimming with fascinating ideas. But you may want to take a look at the reasons for those thoughts. “Interesting” and “novel” may not always be enough. You might benefit from blending more “why” questions into your “how” take on things as you’re approaching a task. Maybe putting your desks in a circle in a shared workspace would be novel and even a little fun. But it may also be very distracting, so why would you do that?

Entrepreneur (ESTP)

Maybe do more of this: Practice empathy. You’re usually a likable person who gets on well with other people. It’s not that you don’t value people, but sometimes the work gets a hold on you, and you may not pay quite enough attention to the feelings and needs of others. However, Entrepreneur personality types are very social. You probably have a real knack for networking. You may want to safeguard your relationships by cranking up your empathy, especially if there is a team involved. Emotional intelligence is very likely somewhere in your interpersonal toolbox. Don’t be afraid to take it out and apply it generously.

Maybe do less of this: Bulldozing. The combination of your Extraverted enthusiasm and your Thinking, no-nonsense approach probably makes you quite a doer. If something needs to be accomplished, you’re the person to look to. Bravo. But if you work with others, make sure that they aren’t feeling overwhelmed by your energy. Not everybody comes from the same place, and some people need more time to process things before acting. That doesn’t necessarily have to change your approach. But a little added sensitivity and patience might be warranted.

Entertainer (ESFP)

Maybe do more of this: Push your curiosity into new realms. Here and now. That’s where Entertainer personalities are most comfortable. And being so in the moment can be a good place to be. But then there is always the pesky future to deal with. Preparation and planning a career path can be helpful. Where do you want to be in two years? Five years? Ten years? You could benefit by letting your curiosity explore future realms more. Have fun speculating about where your path might lead – and then maybe make solid plans to help guarantee that success is there waiting for you when you arrive.

Maybe do less of this: Ignoring mundane details. You like things a little more free-form and unstructured when you do anything, including work. More people could probably use your flexibility on the job. You likely divide your world into two neat categories: interesting details and boring details. Interesting details might be the little things that enhance a whole thing’s beauty. Boring details might include money matters or time issues. But mundane details are important and can be vital to success. Appreciating that might help you focus more on some of the necessary but tedious aspects of work.

(And if that doesn’t help, get close to more detail-oriented people. Believe it or not, some people love that stuff and are more than happy to help.)

Time to Act

Whether our suggestions were exactly tailored for you or inspired you in some other way, it’s all pretty useless if it remains a collection of our crafted words on the screen of your device. So the question becomes, “How do I make these thoughts useful?” That’s where goal-setting and planning come in.

We encourage you to take any of the ideas here and map them out using a lot of specific actions and a lot of deadlines. Create measurable goals that let you know when you’ve undeniably carried out what you intended to. The evidence should be clear beyond a doubt because of metrics or some other carefully considered and clear outcomes. A good goal will be challenging but not too challenging. Be realistic. If you’re not familiar with a system like SMART goals, maybe take a moment and start there.

Look at you, setting goals and all.

We wish you the best year at work that you’ve ever had. But that’s up to you. We’re here and we’re pulling for you.

Further Reading

  • To continue your work-life journey, check out more of our articles or our tools and assessments on professional development and success.
  • Need some inspiration for your everyday life? Explore our ideas for every personality type on how to make this your year.
  • Are you ready for our most in-depth advice on how to use the strengths of your personality type to live your best life? Our Premium Profiles are for you.

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