Working Cooperatively With Annoying Personalities

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Personality traits are evident as young as birth and are genetically linked! Personality traits in children are the best predictors of adult behavior. In other words, many things change in a human being, but personality is stable. The Big 5 is a personality assessment that measures the 5 basic traits that all of us have: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These ways of being are not absolutes but are seen on a spectrum. For example, agreeableness is seen as friendly and compassionate on one end of the spectrum, but challenging and detached on the other end.

So-called “personality clashes” are based on an idea that someone?s way of being conflicts with your way of being. The reality is that all conflict is based on a perceived belief that the other person is obstructing your ability to obtain your goal. For example, if you share an idea in a meeting and a co-worker shoots it down, the the reason that a clash occurs is not that the co-worker is a jerk and they do not like your way of being. The problem is that this co-worker is stopping you or impeding your ability to have your idea heard and or acted on. Personalities are not the true cause of the issue; therefore, personality clashes are a misnomer and obfuscate the true problem.

Personality is a cluster of traits that just are. If you clash with someone because of their personality, you are literally taking umbrage with a person?s entire way of being. It is tantamount to hating someone because of their hair color. Their hair did not grow that way expressly to vex you.

When you remove personality from the conflict, things become much clearer. A person feels there is a conflict when they perceive that their path is being blocked. In a relationship or business, this is easily handled by communicating your goals. In most cases, in business as well as relationships, the goals are the same, and are usually tied to the mission. In space, the goal is to complete the mission and stay safe. We can all agree with that, right?

In relationships of any kind, the goal must be shared. Things get complicated when an individual puts their personal goal of being the best or winning over shared goals. Being “right” or “winning” are goals that will always end up creating conflict because they are not shared. In a cooperative relationship, this type of individual goal can be disastrous, creating a competition where the aim is to vanquish your opponents.

Avoiding conflict starts with creating shared goals and avoiding competition that pits one person against the other. If you share a goal, along with personal needs, you can create an atmosphere that is supportive and conducive to everyone winning. Personalities may not match, but that does not stop a team, crew, or partnership from successfully achieving goals.

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