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Resources - Personalities and Communication

There is no one size fits all when it comes to personality, communication and social interaction. It is much easier to interact with other people when you have an understanding of the diversity of communication and social interaction habits that people employ. Which ones do you practice?

Individual behavior combines our inherent personality, the culture of our upbringing and our motivation. Understanding these differences can help individuals optimize their own communication style to ensure that messaging is interpreted and applied correctly in the workplace.

Sample tools in use to assess employees' personality and style:

Personality Trait Can Predict Unethical Behavior? Psychologists have traditionally looked to the 'Big Five' personality traits -- which consist of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience -- as a means of taking a thorough assessment of a person's attitudes and behaviors. Psychologists from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015 say a sixth dimension, Honesty-Humility, should be added to the Big Five to help account for behavior that's unethical, manipulative and self-serving. See where you rank in personality dimensions with the HEXACO Personality Inventory link above.

Standard Communication Styles

Four commonly known basic types of communication styles are identified below. You are sure to identify with all of them. Some are productive in a team environment, some are detrimental. Which one do you practice, which one would you like to have? What do you think other's think about you? Are you contributing, or hindering, social communication?

1. Passive

Involves violating your own rights by failing to express honest feelings, thoughts, and beliefs and consequently allowing others to also violate your rights: or expressing your thoughts and feelings in such an apologetic, timid manner that others can easily disregard them.

Purpose To be liked and accepted by others. To avoid unpleasant and risky situations. Avoid confrontation and conflict with others.
Characteristics Low self-esteem, dependent, submissive and overly compliant, pessimistic, depressed, feels anxious, helpless, and powerless; simmers with rage inside, tension headaches or psychosomatic complaints.
Attitude I'm not okay, everyone else is.
Interactions with others Puts oneself down. Allows others to choose for him/her to tell oneself what to do, but then resents them for it. Her/his ideas, opinions, or plans are easily influenced or changed by others. Gives in or withdraws when conflict arises. Waits to be noticed before he/she speaks up.
Feelings provoked in others: Pity, irritation, guilt, disgust, anger, frustration, disrespect.
Consequences: Doesn't achieve desired goal or needs and wants fulfilled.
Verbal language: Apologetic words. hedging, rambling, disconnected, failure to come to a point or say what they really mean. At a loss for words.
Body language:
  • Voice: Weak, hesitant, low, soft, sometimes wavering.
  • Eyes: Poor eye contact, eyes are averted, downcast, theary, pleading
  • Stance and posture: Stooped posture, nervous, distracting movements, excessive head nodding.
  • Hands: Fidgety, fluttery, clammy.

2. Aggressive

Involves directly standing up for personal rights and expressing thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a way, which is emotionally honest, but usually inappropriate, and in violation of the rights of others.

Purpose To dominate or win in every situation by humiliating, degrading, belittling or overpowering others. Express anger, bitterness, and resentment. Increase self-esteem by putting others down.
Characteristics Rude, obnoxious, loud, boisterous, domineering, and superior. Over-reacts to situations with an outright attack.
Attitude You're not okay, Views oneself as superior.
Interactions with others Puts down whomever she/he is talking to. Chooses for others regardless of their feelings.
Feelings provoked in others: Hurt, defensive, humiliated, angry, worthless, embarrassed, abused.
Consequences: Achieve desired goal at the expense of others. Alienates others, lack of close relationships.
Verbal language: Use of "you" statements. Accusations. Descriptive, subjective terms. Domineering and superior words.
Body language:
  • Voice: Loud, shrill, cold, "deadly quiet," demanding, authoritative, abusive.
  • Eyes: Expressionless, narrowed, cold, stare, glaring.
  • Stance and posture: Body is tense and erect. Stiff and rigid. Hands on hips, feet apart, arms crossed, commanding.
  • Hands: Fists clenched, finger pointing, fist pounding, abrupt gestures.

3. Passive-Aggressive

Involves expressing your needs and feelings in an unclear and confusing manner

Purpose Express oneself without having to state one’s feelings openly. Get what one wants.
Characteristics Appears to be independent and in control of the situation.
Attitude You're not okay, but I'll let you think that I think you are.
Interactions with others Manipulates to get what he/she wants or show how she/he feels by pouting, playing the martyr, giving the silent treatment, withdrawing, procrastinating, making empty promises, playing helpless, etc.
Feelings provoked in others: Confusion, frustration, distrust, feeling of “being had” or taken advantage of.
Consequences: May achieve desired goal, but behavior reinforces feelings of low self-esteem. Unable to establish close relationships.
Verbal language: Insinuations, sarcasm, teasing, ridiculing, false praise.
Body language:
  • Voice: Sarcastic tone, crying, whining, monotone, judgmental.
  • Eyes: Wandering, gaze, winking, mocking, inattentive.
  • Stance and posture: Impatient, fidgety, disapproving.
  • Hands: Limp, wavering, palms up in “who me” type gesture.

4. Assertive

Involves standing up for personal rights and expressing thoughts, feelings and beliefs in direct, honest, and appropriate ways which do not violate another person's rights.

Purpose To communicate ideas, feelings, and needs clearly without dominating, degrading or humiliating the other person.
Characteristics Confident, independent, honest, open. Evaluates the situation before acting on it.
Attitude I'm okay and you're ok.
Interactions with others Respects others with whom she/he is in contact with, not out to win every conversation, fair to one's self and others, willing to make compromises.
Feelings provoked in others: Respected, valued.
Consequences: May achieve desired goal. Ability to establish good relationships with others. Continually gains in self-esteem and aids others to do likewise.
Verbal language: Use of "I" statements. Objective words. Direct statements, honest statements of feelings.
Body language:
  • Voice: Conversational tone. Firm, relaxed, warm.
  • Eyes: Appropriate eye contact, open and attentive.
  • Stance and posture: Body is relaxed, straight stance, arms at sides.
  • Hands: Relaxed motions.

Dialect Differences


How does emotion fit in? What do we convey and what do others "read" about our emotion?


The Four Social Styles

Analyticals value facts above all, and may appear uncommunicative, cool and independent. They have a strong time discipline coupled with a slow pace to action. They value accuracy, competency and logic over opinions, often avoiding risk in favor of cautious, deliberate decisions. Analyticals are usually cooperative, providing they have some freedom to organize their own efforts. Power often arises suspicion in Analyticals, but if they come to see it as necessary for achieving goals and objectives, they may seek power themselves. In relationships, Analyticals are initially more careful and reserved, but once trust is earned they can become dedicated and loyal.

Amiables are people-oriented, and care more about close relationships than results or influence. They usually appear warm, friendly and cooperative. Amiables tend to move slowly with a low time discipline, minimizing risk and often using personal opinions to arrive at decisions. Belonging to a group is a primary need, and Amiables may make every effort to gain acceptance. They typically seek to uncover common ground, preferring to achieve objectives through understanding and mutual respect rather than force and authority. When managed by force without relationship, Amiables appear to cooperate initially but will likely lack commitment to the objectives and may later resist implementation.

Expressives are motivated by recognition, approval and prestige. They tend to appear communicative and approachable, often sharing their feelings and thoughts. They move quickly, continually excited about the next big idea, but they often don't commit to specific plans or see things through to completion. Expressives enjoy taking risks. When making decisions, they tend to place more stock in the opinions of prominent or successful people than in logic or research. Though they consider relationships important, the Expressive’s competitive nature leads them to seek quieter friends who are supportive of their dreams and ideas, often making relationships shallow or short-lived.

Driving styles are results-oriented, tending to initiate action and give clear direction. They seek control over their environment. In decision-making, Driving styles want to know the estimated outcome of each option. They are willing to accept risks, but want to move quickly and have the final say. In relationships, they may appear uncommunicative, independent and competitive. Driving styles tend to focus on efficiency or productivity rather than devoting time and attention to casual relationships. They seldom see a need to share personal motives or feelings.

Each of the categories represent roughly 25 percent of the population, which means that only about one-fourth of the people you work with prefer to interact in the same way you do. This provides a plethora of opportunities for workplace conflict to manifest. What are you doing to manage your relationships?

Jonathan Farrington (business coach, mentor, author, and consultant) offers some insight on each of the social styles and tips on how to negotiate/communicate with each type:

Driver -The Director
  • Assertive but not responsive
  • Task rather than people oriented.
  • Decisive and determined
  • Controlled emotions
  • Set on efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Likes control, often in a hurry.
  • Firm, stable relationships
  • Stubborn, tough.
  • Impatient.
  • Inflexible poor listener.

    • To Negotiate With Drivers:
    • Plan to ask questions about and discuss specifics, actions and results.
    • Use facts and logic.
    • When necessary, disagree with facts rather than opinions. Be assertive.
    • Keep it business-like, efficient and to the point.
    • Personal guarantees and testimonials are least effective, better to provide options and facts.
    • Do not invade personal space.
Expressive - The Socializer.
  • Assertive and responsive.
  • Reactive, impulsive, decisions spontaneous, intuitive
  • Placing more importance on relationships than tasks
  • Emotionally expressive, sometimes dramatic.
  • Flexible agenda, short attention span, easily loved.
  • Enthusiastic.
  • Strong persuasive skills, talkative and gregarious.
  • Optimistic; takes risks.
  • Creative.

    • To Negotiate With Expressives:
    • Seek opinions in an area you wish to develop to achieve mutual understanding.
    • Discussion should be people as well as fact oriented.
    • Keep summarizing. Work out specifics on points of agreement.
    • Try short, fast moving experience stories.
    • Make sure to pin them down in a friendly way.
    • Remember to discuss the future as well as the present.
    • Look out for the impulse buy.
Amiable - The Supporter.
  • Not assertive but responsive.
  • Dependent on others.
  • Respectful, willing and agreeable.
  • Emotionally expressive.
  • Everyone’s friend; supportive; soft-hearted.
  • Low risk taker, likes security
  • Group builder.
  • Over sensitive.
  • Not goal orientated.

    • To Negotiate With Amiables:
    • Work jointly, seek common ground.
    • Find out about personal interests and family.
    • Be patient and avoid going for what looks like an easy pushover.
    • Use personal assurance and specific guarantees and avoid options and probabilities.
    • Take time to be agreeable.
    • Focus discussion on "how."
    • Demonstrate low risk solutions.
    • Don't take advantage of their good nature.
Analytical - The Clinician.
  • Not assertive, not responsive.
  • Precise, orderly and business-like.
  • Rational and co-operative.
  • Self-controlled and serious.
  • Motivated by logic and facts.
  • Not quick to make decisions.
  • Distrusts persuasive people.
  • Likes things in writing and detail.
  • Security conscious.
  • Critical, aloof, skeptical.
  • Excellent problem solver.
  • Likes rigid timetables.

    • To Negotiate With Analyticals:
    • Take action rather than using words to demonstrate helpfulness and willingness.
    • Stick to specifics. Analyticals expect salesmen to overstate.
    • Their decisions are based on facts and logic and they avoid risk.
    • They can often be very cooperative, but established relationships take time.
    • Consider telling them what the product won't do. They will respect you for it, and they will have spotted the deficiencies anyway.
    • Discuss reasons and ask "why" questions.
    • Become less responsive and less assertive yourself.


We are already keenly aware that all mortals display differing characteristics of perception, judgment, sensing, intuition, thinking and feeling. After World War II, a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) became widespread in its ability to discern 16 different personality types embodied in all people.

"Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heart's desire."
Isabel Briggs Myers,
American psychological theorist

By determining an individual’s preferential action in the following four main dichotomies, the combination yields 16 different personalities. The main categories are:

Favorite World Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
Information Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
Decisions When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
Structure In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

When individuals are subjected to the test, the identification of basic preferences in each of the four groupings specified above surface and are noted. By combining the letters in each category, one of the following combinations listed in the following pages emanates as a dominant personality type.

When reading any of the potential combinations, one might surmise that EACH ONE has a valuable characteristic that helps the "world go round" and which each reader has surely been exposed to in his/her life.

Descriptions of the 16 personality types can be found here.

Law of the Few

Malcolm Gladwell in his best seller book Tipping Point introduces three personality types that exhibit a rare set of social gifts necessary for creating change, and progression which he encapsulates in the "Law of the Few." Your organization can sure benefit from these personality types:

1. Connectors People with a special gift for bringing people together. They have the ability to move up and down and back and forth among all the different worlds and subcultures and niches and levels of a given profession. Their ability to span many worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, and energy.

2. Mavens People whom we rely upon to connect us with new information. These are information specialists. A Maven is someone who wants to solve other people's problems generally by solving his own and they solve their own problems - their own emotional needs - by solving other people's problems.

3. Salesmen People that are persuasive in a way quite different from the content of their words. They have an indefinable trait, something powerful and contagious and irresistible that goes beyond what comes out of their mouth, that makes people who meet them want to agree with them. It's energy. It's enthusiasm. It's charm. It's likability. It's all those things and yet something more.

Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are the social glue: they spread it. Salesmen are the people that persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing. All necessary ingredients to make the world-go-round. These individuals are translators. They take ideas and information from a highly specialized world and translate them into a language the rest of us can understand.

Decoding Body Language Sampler


Find the beauty and diversity of 34 Clifton Strengths Finder themes identified by the Gallup Organization. Download the two-page summary of the short definitions of Clifton StrengthsFinder Themes here.

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The eyes believe themselves; the ears other people.
German Proverb

We judge ourselves by our motives and others by their actions.
Dwight Morrow, American businessman, ambassador and senator

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

Though all society is founded on intolerance, all improvement is founded on tolerance.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright

In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words; people, product and profits. People come first.
Lee Iaccoca, American businessman

The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.
Mother Teresa, Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic Missionary

Everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires.
Jean de la Fontaine, French poet

The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain't so.
Mark Twain, American author and humorist

If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking.
General George Patton Jr, World War II US Army Commander

I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.
Dudley Field Malone, American statesman and lawyer

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy, Russian writer and pacifist

I can live for two months on a good compliment.
Mark Twain, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, American author and humorist

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

No one has been barred on account of his race from fighting or dying for America - there are no "white" or "colored" signs on the foxholes or graveyards of battle.
John F. Kennedy, 35th US President

I pay the schoolmaster, but 'tis the schoolboys that educate my son.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philospher

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
Jonathan Swift, Anglo-Irish satirist and essayist

In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher

When you talk, you repeat what you already know; when you listen you often learn something.
Jaren Sparks

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold onto two opposed ideas at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer

Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.
Mahatma Gandhi, Indian pacifist and leader

I am more of a sponge than an inventor. I absorb ideas from every source. My principal business is giving commercial value to brilliant but misdirected ideas of others.
Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman

If we always view it from the same perspective, we will tend to notice the same things.
Frans Johansson, Author and businessman

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Hungarian physiologist

One can resist the invasion of armies; one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.
Victor Hugo, French playwright and activist

Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one.
Thomas Carlyle, Scottish writer and historian

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th US President

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.
Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman

The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.
Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist

The rich would have to eat money, but luckily the poor provide food.
Russian Proverb

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
Elbert Hubbard, American writer and philosopher

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