How Studying Personalities Will Boost Your Career.

A few years ago, I was running a promotional event while representing my employer. Throughout the day, dozens of curious prospects stopped by my booth, looking to inquire about some of the financial products I was marketing. I’d like to take you through two encounters.

First, a young man in his early 30’s came running to my table after seeing the signs. Without realizing that I was already having a conversation, he immediately asked me about the interest rate on one of the products. Before I could answer, he proceeded to compliment me on my shirt which looked very similar to the one he was wearing and soon, he was telling me about his own career in the financial industry. As much as I had prepared to share the details of the products with prospects, I realized that this one wasn’t really interested in the fine lines. 15 minutes later, he was opening an account with me. I don’t recall explaining the terms of the contract.

Second, about an hour after the above encounter, a young lady approached me and wanted to know the terms on the same account opened earlier. She had printed off some information she found on our website and had further questions. As I was meticulously explaining the details, she took notes, thanked me for having the ‘right’ answers to her questions and asked more questions. 30 min later, we sat down, and she opened an account.

Can you see the difference between these two encounters? What’s the point? you may be asking yourself. The point is that we all have different personalities and our interactions,our thoughts and our reactions are all driven for the most part by our personality and the way we are wired. In the corporate or business world, you may think that this does not have any effect, but I can guarantee you that understanding the different dynamics of personalities will increase your income.

I discovered the different personalities a few years ago when I was introduced to Florence Littauer’s book Personality Plus. Later, I read Wired That Way by her daughter Marita and it gave me an even better understanding of the dynamics of our personalities.

In his book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, Dr. John Maxwell emphasizes the value of connecting with others over simply communicating words. In your private life as well as in your professional life, knowing how to reach common ground by your communication with your interlocutors will make you successful. When you are dealing with co-workers, subordinates or supervisors and clients, understanding their personalities and readjusting your communication in lieu of blindly talking will make you rich.

How? Let’s examine a few settings where knowing how the other person thinks can make or break a deal.

In an interview

Imagine that you walk into an office for an interview with the Director. As you are waiting in her office while she’s talking to the Executive Assistant, you notice that she leaves out ‘please’ after her requests and points with her index finger. Now she is walking toward you, practically stomping the floor, shakes your hand and before she is even seated at her desk, she asks for your resume. News flash! You are dealing with a Powerful Choleric (or type A person) and the interview may only last a few minutes. This personality will want to get to the point quick and your lengthy details may bore her. Knowing how to deal with such a personality may be the key to a job offer or a rejection.


Tomorrow, when you get to the office, review some of the emails you’ve received recently. Look at the words used, the length of the emails and the signatures.

After a meeting, junior analyst sent the recap to his boss. The text was written in paragraphs and well-articulated. The boss then proceeded to insert bullet points, titles and subtitles because it needed to look neater. The same boss, for lack of creativity, had as a signature to all his emails ‘Thanks, (name)’. Although these characteristics can be found in people with different personalities, this need to be perfect belongs to the Perfect Melancholy. Working with one? You better keep your desk or office clean and make sure your grammar is correct in your emails. Oh, don’t leave out the details.

These are simply two examples of situations of our every life when paying attention to details and knowing the personality of others will open incredible doors for you. It surely has for me. In talking to a client, asking for a raise, making a presentation, addressing in audience, communicating effectively involves understanding the different personalities.

The first step to take on this journey is to know your own personality. If you are a Powerful Choleric or a Perfect Melancholy, you’ve most likely already related to the two examples mentioned above. However, you may be a Popular Sanguine or even a Peaceful Phlegmatic. Do your homework and find out. Then be intentional in treating people as they are wired. You will obviously have to look for clues.

Are you ready? Remember that no one personality is better than the other. We are all simply different from each other; it is how we are wired. Keep that in mind as you are interacting with your community. Today marks a new start and trust me, your career with thank you if you make it a point to study and understand personalities.


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