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How to Work Successfully with Anyone

  • Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2011 2 Feb
  • COMMENTS
How to Work Successfully with Anyone

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of  Florence Littauer and Rose Sweet's book, Personality Plus at Work: How to Work Successfully with Anyone, (Revell, 2011).

You have to relate to a wide variety of people no matter where you work, and some of them will probably have very different personalities from your own. Those differences can cause tension and conflict on the job if you let them bother you. Or, if you recognize that each different personality is actually a God-given gift, you can learn to work successfully with anyone, achieving great workplace goals together. Here’s how:

Understand the four main personality traits. People are born with combinations of four different types of personality traits, usually with one trait dominating the others. Sanguine people are extroverted optimists who make life fun. They’re bright, fun, and the life of any party. Choleric people are extroverted leaders who take charge easily. They’re born leaders and quickly decisive. Melancholy people are introverted pessimists who may be prone to genius. They’re deep, thoughtful, and introspective. Phlegmatic people are introverted mediators who roll with life’s punches. They’re easygoing, pleasant, and friendly.

Respect people’s personalities instead of resenting them. Don’t waste time or energy trying to change the people you work with; you’ll only end up frustrated if you do. Instead, recognize that differences between personalities are good, because they can complement each other. Ask God to help you see the value that people of various personalities contribute to your workplace. Learn how to appreciate the strengths that each person has to offer while also working together to minimize each person’s weaknesses.

Appreciate the unique strengths that various personalities bring to your workplace. A sanguine person offers a light touch, a choleric person offers energy to take charge, a melancholy person offers good attention to details, and a phlegmatic person offers faithful support.

Be aware of the unique weaknesses that various personalities bring to your workplace. A sanguine person may not concentrate well, a choleric person may be impatient and angry, a melancholy person may be moody and depressed, and a phlegmatic person may be remote and fearful. Ask God to help you diminish your own personality’s weaknesses so your strength’s can come forward at work.

Meet people’s emotional needs so they can do their jobs well. The people you work with will be best able to do their jobs well if they’re emotionally fulfilled. So do your best to meet their unique emotional needs as you relate to them on the job. Sanguine people need to feel appreciated. They need you to notice and compliment them. Choleric people need to feel respected. They need you to appreciate all they do for you. Melancholy people need to feel valued. They need you to understand them rather than ridiculing them. Phlegmatic people need to feel safe. They need you to respect who they are, regardless of how productive they are at work.

Help sanguine people do their best at work. Sanguine people desire fun. Workplace tasks that they can do especially well include: encouraging people, creating a sense of enthusiasm on the job, making contact with new people, communicating on stage, thinking of new ways to do something, volunteering for what needs to be done, and moving past problems and grudges. But also keep in mind that sanguine people are prone to problems that can interfere with their work, such as: talking too much and not listening enough to other people, forgetting details, getting distracted easily, failing to plan adequately, making excuses, complaining, and trying to constantly be the center of attention.

Help choleric people do their best at work. Choleric people desire to be in charge. Workplace tasks that they can do especially well include: being confident and decisive, meeting goals, doing difficult work without becoming too emotional, organizing well, seeking practical solutions to problems, and correcting wrongs by trying to do what’s right. But also keep in mind that choleric people are prone to problems that can interfere with their work, such as: arguing, being inflexible, bossing people around too much, acting too quickly in situations that require more reflection, and failing to listen to other people’s perspectives.

Help melancholy people do their best at work. Melancholy people desire perfection. Workplace tasks that they can do especially well include: thoughtfully coming up with new ideas, carefully analyzing issues, using creativity to solve problems, caring about other people, staying on a schedule and within a budget, and giving their best effort to every assignment. But also keep in mind that melancholy people are prone to problems that can interfere with their work, such as: focusing on what’s negative, hesitating to start projects, criticizing other people, being suspicious of other people, and spending too much time analyzing and planning so they’re not very productive.

Help phlegmatic people do their best at work. Phlegmatic people desire peace. Workplace tasks that they can do especially well include: listening well, staying calm during crises, mediating conflicts, adapting to new situations with flexibility, being kind and patient with other people, and observing how best to improve situations. But also keep in mind that phlegmatic people are prone to problems that can interfere with their work, such as: avoiding responsibility, being indecisive, being careless, worrying, making excuses, resisting change, and judging or discouraging other people.

Keep praying. Every work day, communicate with God through prayer, asking Him to continue to guide and empower you to relate to others well at work. You may be surprised at how strong your relationships with people at work become, and how much you all can accomplish on the job together.

Adapted from Personality Plus at Work: How to Work Successfully with Anyone, copyright 2011 by Florence Littauer and Rose Sweet. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.   

Florence Littauer is the bestselling author of more than 40 books, including Personality Plus, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 30 languages. She speaks internationally at seminars and retreats and is the president of CLASS Speakers, Inc. She lives in Nevada.

Rose Sweet is a popular speaker and the author of five books and a contributor to many more. Rose is the director of the Catholic Divorce Network and the producer of the landmark DVD series The Catholic Divorce Survival Guide. Rose lives in California.

Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor.  You can visit her website at: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.