How Important are Personality Diversity Tools in Learning about Yourself?

In Converation with the Safety Collaborators Podcast

Episode 029

May 31, 2023

Personality Diversity Tools

[Listen at approximately 00:12]

Do personality diversity tools truly benefit individuals in better understanding themselves and others? Or do they oversimplify the complexities of human behaviour, leading to inaccurate assessments and judgments?

The concept of personality assessment and comprehension has a long history, with roots dating back to the days of Hippocrates when he observed his students and posed questions such as:

  • Why do individuals exhibit varied behaviours? 
  • Why do some people naturally gravitate towards group settings? 
  • Why do some individuals find solace in daydreaming while others explore the properties of herbs and their combinations?

Has our understanding evolved? 

In today's era, with advancements in neuroscience, there is a wealth of research supporting and challenging existing perspectives. This ongoing dialogue contributes to a deeper understanding of ourselves and others, emphasizing the importance of finding common ground and fostering harmonious interactions instead of conflict or disagreement.

We often affirm, 'We are all different, and that is fabulous'.

We All See The World Through Our Own Lens

[Listen at approximately 01:54]

Can you imagine a world where everyone is the same?
It would be an incredibly dull place to live.

But just because you're different doesn't mean you're intentionally difficult; you see the world through your unique perspective. It's important to understand that we all have our own lenses through which we observe the world. Even in the same room, two people can look at and describe a wall differently, influenced by our individual perceptions of colour and sound. The beauty of these differences adds complexity, sometimes frustration, and a great deal of joy to our lives.

There are times when this diversity may not always bring immediate joy, and that's where these tools become invaluable. They are not only helpful in work situations but also in your family, friendships, and communities. They assist in a variety of environments. Coaching sessions often incorporate these tools, whether one-on-one or within teams, making the process enjoyable and exploratory.

Let's consider the scenario of two individuals growing up in the same household; this isn't about personality diversity but rather your physiology, specifically the gut biome. How you eat and the functioning of your "gut brain" play a significant role in how you react and show up in the world. It's important to note that information from your gut travels to your brain, influencing your mood and overall well-being.

That's why what you ate three days ago can affect how you feel today.

Imagine the interesting findings of Dr Tim Spector, a legendary figure in this field. He studied identical twins extensively and discovered they were physiologically identical in every way except for their guts, which often exhibited contrasting characteristics, emphasising the importance of personalities.

Remember, you are not difficult; you are simply different. 

Using Personality Diversity Tools

[Listen at approximately 04:10]

We utilise a tool called eColours, which helps you understand and manage your behaviour and communication style more effectively. It focuses on self-awareness and empowers you to enhance your team performance. By improving your understanding, communication, and collaboration with others, you can transcend your perspective and contribute to the team's success. Furthermore, as you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, including your triggers and sources of excitement, you become better equipped to educate those around you. 

Why do we use questionnaires? 

One of the most significant reasons is their ability to catalyse meaningful conversations. In addition, they provide you with quick insights into yourself, sparking valuable self-reflection. 

"With my years of experience using tools like DiSC and eColours, I have witnessed the joy and surprise on people's faces when they gain valuable insights. During feedback, I often ask individuals to share their thoughts on where they believe they fall within the assessment's model. Most assessments typically have four quadrants or categories, such as red, green, yellow, or blue, or the D, I, S, or C designations. It is fascinating how individuals tend to express their preferences; more often than not, their self-perception aligns closely with the assessment results. This realisation makes them smile as they receive their percentages and learn more about themselves." 

Remember, you already have a sense of who you are.

Sharing this information is not meant to be a massive surprise but rather a validation of your unique identity. The conversation can naturally expand into discussing leadership, teamwork, and how you navigate different situations. It's an enjoyable and valuable dialogue that encourages vulnerability, acceptance, and self-validation. 

Using personality diversity tools allows you to learn about yourself and those around you, uncovering these intriguing differences.

Clear Guidelines

[Listen at approximately 08:59]

Personality diversity tools provide flexible guidance rather than strict rules, and there are clear guidelines on when they can be helpful and when they may not be suitable.

It's not about guessing;

these tools support personal development rather than serve as rigid criteria for employment. We all have a mix of different personality traits, with certain preferences and potential limitations. Sometimes, exploring areas that may not feel comfortable is essential, especially as individuals take on leadership roles. The more they understand themselves in this context, the better prepared they become. Because they offer a dynamic approach, these tools encourage individuals to explore themselves and the world around them. As mentioned earlier, they can help navigate disagreements and conflicts.

The idea of individuals being like a kaleidoscope of diverse elements is truly remarkable.

Think of it as being part of a vibrant and diverse community where one can pick up a kaleidoscope and spend hours turning it, marvelling at the ever-changing patterns and unique perspectives it reveals.

Personality & Character

[Listen at approximately 10:31]

We encounter a rich tapestry of patterns and perspectives in our interactions with people. Each day, you tap into different aspects of your personality and character, adapting to the situation at hand. It's like a kaleidoscope of views, ever-changing depending on who you're with and your conversation. Our goal is to help you show up as your best self, regardless of the circumstances surrounding you.

This concept ties into your understanding of personality and character.

So using the iceberg analogy, your PERSONALITY represents the visible top portion, encompassing your typical reactions and default positions.

While we believe a leopard doesn't change its spots, you can choose how to behave based on the rest of yourself. Below the surface lies everything else that shapes you:

🔷your upbringing, 🔷cultural background, 🔷learned experiences,
🔷behaviours, 🔷values, 🔷beliefs, and 🔷norms.

These elements create your CHARACTER.

So, while your personality may influence your initial responses in certain situations, you can react differently or expand upon your preferences based on your learning and understanding. This flexibility allows you to recognize when your preferences serve as strengths or weaknesses and adjust your approach accordingly.

Understanding the interplay between personality and character also comes into play when navigating change and working in teams. Mapping everyone's "colours" within a team setting can provide insights into individual needs and preferences. For example, it helps explain why someone may require more information or prefer a different communication style. Additionally, acknowledging the concept of being "in your head," your personality reflects how you are wired—your innate makeup and DNA.

Situational Leadership

[Listen at approximately 14:50]

The intersection of situational leadership and the personality framework is worth noting as they complement each other in enhancing our leadership capabilities.

When we consider the dynamics of situational leadership alongside an understanding of individual personalities, we gain valuable insights into adjusting our leadership approach. It involves leveraging our default positions while mindful of the trade-offs of emphasising strengths without overlooking potential limitations.

However, challenges arise when people hold unfounded opinions and resort to stereotyping or labelling based on personality types. These biases can hinder effective communication and lead to misguided assumptions:

'Oh, so you're that personality type'.

~ I'm not going to talk to you,
~ I won't ask you to do something that entails detail,
~ We have to be all warm and fuzzy
~ We can expect prolonged discussions

We have experienced these challenges, highlighting the importance of approaching leadership objectively and embracing a balanced approach. By recognising and appreciating individual strengths while promoting adaptability, we foster an environment that encourages productivity and inclusivity, mitigating the potential negative impact of such biases.

What Can Go Wrong?

[Listen at approximately 16:56]

We have encountered situations where individuals underwent profiling or similar assessments, resulting in negative experiences that deeply affected their confidence and self-perception as leaders.

I vividly remember a specific incident with a colleague in a leadership position who had a debriefing session after undergoing a profiling process. Distressed and convinced that he was unfit for leadership, he contemplated resigning immediately. Sensing the urgency, I intervened, offering support and suggesting we discuss the matter over coffee.

I helped reframe the assessment results during our conversation and provided a different perspective. It was evident that the experience had been deflating and disheartening for him. Despite the subsequent positive discussion, he remained hesitant to engage in such processes again, fearing a similar outcome. It saddens me to witness the profound impact these experiences can have."

This unfortunate scenario highlights the extreme consequences when an assessment goes wrong, impeding personal growth, learning, and emotional intelligence. We've encountered others who share similar sentiments, cautioning against the efficacy of such assessments based on their negative encounters.

These experiences underscore the potentially detrimental effects when assessments are used for promotional or judgmental purposes without careful implementation. It becomes a guessing game, where individuals in a room label and make assumptions about one another, leading to a disheartening and unproductive environment. Therefore, it is crucial to approach these assessments as learning opportunities rather than definitive judgments. Implementing them thoughtfully and with consideration is key to ensuring their effectiveness and fostering a positive and growth-oriented environment.

Comfort Zones / Under-Pressure Zones

[Listen at approximately 19:36]

As we navigate these tools and their applications, we must not view them as definitive or used solely for promotion or creating opportunities for individuals. So instead, let's consider the team perspective.

If we find ourselves in a team where most members share similar traits or skills, we can question how we can tap into different perspectives and foster growth. It might be within the group that someone decides to expand their capacity or explore new areas. It's crucial to acknowledge that we are a combination of various traits and preferences, not confined to a single category. Stepping outside our comfort zones can be uncomfortable yet necessary for personal and professional development.

The answer is no when people ask if everyone else is like them.

Each individual is unique. Someone, sometimes, may exhibit a rare, high percentage in only one quadrant, and we jokingly refer to those individuals as either genius or insane😉
However, it's also possible to find people who are balanced or can easily navigate between different types. The more self-awareness we have, the better we can become as individuals and leaders.

This knowledge creates an open space for teams to engage in vulnerable conversations. For example, someone who naturally strives for inclusivity and speedy decision-making may learn to understand the importance of gathering more information before making choices. These conversations require additional tools and approaches to be effective.

Let's address a common question: Does our personality change?

Not significantly, but we learn behaviours and adapt to manage who we are. Our roles and circumstances can influence minor adjustments, and our state of relaxation, emotional stability, and sleep can also play a role. It's important to consider how we behave under pressure or in different contexts, such as the workplace versus home. Our behaviours can vary, and reflecting on how we respond to smooth or stormy situations is valuable.

An interesting analogy is observing golf players during a charity golf day.

Initially enthusiastic and eager, their demeanour can shift when shots go awry, or plans don't unfold as expected. Even in a casual setting, the darker sides of individuals can emerge. We all possess hidden aspects or alter egos that surface in certain circumstances.

It's akin to telling ourselves to pause and bring forth a more helpful version of ourselves when necessary.

The Importance of Pause and Play

[Listen at approximately 25:28]


Example from Nuala:

Where I need to pause is: I have an idea for everything.
I have an opinion if we're in a group of people, and somebody asks a question. But what can happen is that I become the dominant voice. And I block other people from sharing their opinions or their great ideas. And I need to PAUSE and go, let everyone else speak, and if somebody still needs to mention my fantastic idea or opinion, I'll put it forward afterwards but give other people space.

We then have PLAY, where you're having that internal dialogue or conversation, and you're going, I need to do something or say something. But I'm not in the space; I'm uncomfortable. Assertiveness was one of my big ones. I used to be a conflict-avoider of monumental proportions. I confused assertiveness and aggressiveness for many years until I dug deeper and learned that pushing play on my assertiveness and dealing with an issue before it became a mountain made life much easier.

It became easier to push play once I started pushing play more regularly. And became no longer a potential limiter but moved more into a strength. And that is one of the most fantastic lessons.


Example from Karin:

I can be task-oriented and want to get on with things now.
So if I'm in the mood for chitchat, I can chitchat back and forth between two key areas; however, if I'm task-oriented or feel like I'm under pressure, I can become very short. And I have to press PAUSE on that more often than I care to admit. And then PLAY up the other more caring and considerate parts of me. And that's just experience and tapping into all of this.

And as I said, we've been doing this stuff for years.

And we continue to remind ourselves to press pause and play because that's who we are. We're constantly learning and growing. The more we understand ourselves and our team is open to understanding us, the better we can show up.

The Importance of Learning About Yourself

[Listen at approximately 27:42]

I have an alter ego named Sophie, who tends to be controlling. Being in a team that understands me allows Karin to ask, "Could Sophie go away please and could we have Nuala back?" It's not offensive; it's a gentle reminder to bring out the best version of myself. 

We all have different sides to our teams - ours are Sophie, Tigger, and Phoebe😉
It adds surprise and value to our interactions, fostering learning and growth.

So creating a comfortable space for conversation is crucial. It's not about guessing or labelling others based on limited knowledge. People show up differently depending on various factors, so involving them in their self-discovery journey is important. Encourage friends, family, and colleagues to learn about themselves and then come together to discuss and understand one another.

So, to sum it up, the key takeaways are:

👉🏼Don't guess or assume; involve others in understanding themselves and each other.
👉🏼Embrace the excitement of self-discovery and remain open to learning about others.
👉🏼Accept that everyone has struggles and be curious, compassionate, and non-judgmental.

Ask how others are doing and genuinely listen. Remember to press pause or play when needed.

Exploring More

We are certified practitioners in eColors, DiSC, and Personality Compass, so if you are interested in exploring more about personality diversity, please feel free to get in touch with us.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with others and follow us on your favourite podcast platform. It's a great way to introduce the concept of personality diversity without diving into the details.

We appreciate having meaningful #conversationsthatmatter, and we hope you do too.
Stay safe and well.

About the Show

Our purpose in sharing this podcast is to have a chinwag (conversation) to help people change how they think and behave about safety. 

We do this by engaging in dialogue and testing the levels of trust and psychological safety, which are core to organisational culture. Making safety part of your DNA so that your people speak up, show up, do right, and become safer every day for yourself, your team, and your business.

We will explore topics related to organisational and safety culture, leadership, the language of risk, emotional literacy, psychological safety, conversational agility, intercultural intelligence, and whatever else pops up during our conversations—sharing our experiences and learnings. 

We intend to share nuggets of wisdom that will challenge your perspectives, potentially solve a nagging problem, share actions you can implement, and give you at least one aha moment.

And, if you enjoyed the show and gained value, please share with just one other person to help spread the word.

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