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 Post subject: Dealing with different personality types at work
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:33 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:38 am
Posts: 2
I'm asking for a bit of advice on behalf of my husband, who I'll call John for the sake of clarity!

John is an introvert, and happily so. He is a confident, well-adjusted person who just happens to be energised by his own company, rather than the company of others. At home and amongst friends he talks as much as everyone else.

However, at work he is quiet. Being a medical writer, his personality is well suited to his job as he needs to be able to knuckle down and concentrate for long periods of time.

There is one particular person he has difficulty with at his work - she is extremely extroverted and is prone to making comments about John's quietness. For example, they recently had a company lunch out and everyone was having a nice time, then there was a small lull in the conversation and she says in a loud voice "John, you need to stop talking, you're being too loud!".

Recently, she was tasked with a company exercise of gathering and presenting information about each persons personality type. On recieving John's data, she announced to the office that he shares the same personality type as serial killers.

There is going to be a company meeting this week to discuss the findings from the personality tests and it's likely that she's going to make another jibe. Does anyone have any advice on how John can best handle this?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:01 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:38 am
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Just wanted to add - my thought was that he should just give her a look of boredom if she says anything, i.e. sending the message 'I really don't care what you think of me.'

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:26 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:32 pm
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I have the same problem at work, but as I get older I don't care as much anymore. It has no baring on the excellent job I do, it's only the insecurities of the managers I've encountered in the past who think everyone has to be some sort of extrovert in the office. A lot of the "talk" that everyone does at work is just BS and a way to relate to each other anyhow, so I think people get uncomfotable because they don't know how to relate to someone quiet.

If your husband's company is giving personality tests and are taking it seriously, then they should know that everyone is different and can work differently. We are not all cookie cutter corporate pawns. As far as the lady, I'd just try to ignore her. Or he could be a smart ass and say, well someone has to be quiet around here! :)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:00 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:19 am
Posts: 49
Location: New Jersey
Well, it was definitely unprofessional that she announced his results to the entire office. She seems to be very childish and in need of attention. I think that if she makes a remark of that nature he should tell her that her behavior is entirely unprofessional and should just stick to the facts of the findings, her interpretation is neither wanted not necessary.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:10 am
Posts: 220
My boyfriend is in the exact same boat as your husband. He is a very intelligent person who prefers to internalize rather than "talk things out".
When the extremely outgoing woman in our church said basically the same thing to him, that "he may be planning a murder" bc no one ever knows what he is thinking, you know what he said? Our entire group got very silent, my face even turned red for him, but he looked her straight in the eye and said "I may be quiet, but when I do speak up, at least people listen."
It shut her up, and I think she reevaluated the importance of different personality types in the group.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:58 am 

Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:12 am
Posts: 11
Quote:
Recently, she was tasked with a company exercise of gathering and presenting information about each persons personality type. On recieving John's data, she announced to the office that he shares the same personality type as serial killers.


This is utterly unacceptable. There is normally a very strong code of ethics attached to doing any sort of personality profiling. She is either unqualified or in a major breach of ethics. If she was tasked with the information, she should be expected to act with the same level of professionalism. If she was not specifically responsible, those responsible should be aware of her comment(s). This is something that should be brought to the attention of HR and/or the individual responsible for the program. (I may be able to give more information if you knew which system they used.)


If she does do things like this, I recommend he approach her privately first and express it... chances are she'll wave it off and do it again. Then do it in public the next time she does, and rebuke her hard. I've heard variations on "This time I do have something to say. As I told you before, I don't appreciate your comments and believe them to be unprofessional/unkind/uncalled for/etc." I've also heard people say that the other person "is misunderstanding the difference between introverts and extroverts - introverts take time to think before they talk, to avoid making comments that hurt others", but that was more when people crossed the line.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:41 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Toronto
I think you people are taking this out of proportion. This sounds like good-natured kidding around and nothing more. Maybe she thinks John is lonely and is trying to make involve him in the conversation in the best way she knows how. Based on what I have read here, there is no reason to assume she is intentionally trying to make John feel bad.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:54 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
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In my experience, many people who are extroverted or natural leaders tend to believe that other people should be more like them because they'll be more successful or happier in life. Thus they try to "draw people out of their shell." I once had to do a personality typing exercise with a woman who best fit the "Take-Charge Activist" personality type, whereas I for example, best fit the "Nurturer" personality type. In her mind, all the personality types were stages in the evolution or growth of one's personality, with the pinnacle being "Take Charge Activist." She couldn't understand or accept that people might be happy with the personality they have and that if the world were full of nothing but Take Charge Activists it would be utter chaos. ;-)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:27 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 11:05 am
Posts: 182
Location: Baltimore, MD, USA, Earth
My response to her announcing the personality test showing traits of a serial killer:

"Well, that explains all the bodies."

Then quietly go back to work.

She won't bother him any more.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:38 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
brad wrote:
In my experience, many people who are extroverted or natural leaders tend to believe that other people should be more like them because they'll be more successful or happier in life. Thus they try to "draw people out of their shell." I once had to do a personality typing exercise with a woman who best fit the "Take-Charge Activist" personality type, whereas I for example, best fit the "Nurturer" personality type. In her mind, all the personality types were stages in the evolution or growth of one's personality, with the pinnacle being "Take Charge Activist." She couldn't understand or accept that people might be happy with the personality they have and that if the world were full of nothing but Take Charge Activists it would be utter chaos. ;-)


This is completely hilarious.

We all know that mad scientist types are the best. :) (And yes, that would be me.)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:33 am 
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
It really depends on "John's" comfort level. Her actions are obviously inappropriate. If it makes him feel uncomfortable or embarrassed (which it probably does) he should say something. I think she is acting out on him because he is different and can't relate to his personality. Obviously they are polar opposites. Chances are she doesn't even think it's hurting is feelings.

I suggest he take her aside and discuss the matter directly. Be frank and honest. Just say "This is how I enjoy myself, I enjoy the environment". Helping her to understand why he is that way might make her back off.

Final point; don't make it a big deal, don't go to the supervisor. That would probably just make it worse and spread gossip around the office of a tattle-tale. This issue is much better addressed 1-on-1.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:36 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:12 pm
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My 2 cents.. he should ignore it. To me it doesn't sound like this lady has stepped very far over the line - Generally more introverted people are pretty sensitive to these types of comments in a social situation, so what the lady may have meant as a joke to try and include him in the conversation, was taken as more of an attack.

In the off chance that the lady was trying to insult him, taking her aside and letting her know her little comments offended him is just going to make her think even less of him. Also if she is looking to press his buttons, it is going to confirm that she is on the right track.

If the lady does keep making these sorts of comments then I think your husbands best bet to get her to stop is to send a warning shot across her bow in a social situation... Let her know her comments aren't appreciated and he is there to do a job, not provide her with social interaction.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:39 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:19 am
Posts: 28
codemonkey wrote:
My 2 cents.. he should ignore it. To me it doesn't sound like this lady has stepped very far over the line - Generally more introverted people are pretty sensitive to these types of comments in a social situation, so what the lady may have meant as a joke to try and include him in the conversation, was taken as more of an attack.

In the off chance that the lady was trying to insult him, taking her aside and letting her know her little comments offended him is just going to make her think even less of him. Also if she is looking to press his buttons, it is going to confirm that she is on the right track.

If the lady does keep making these sorts of comments then I think your husbands best bet to get her to stop is to send a warning shot across her bow in a social situation... Let her know her comments aren't appreciated and he is there to do a job, not provide her with social interaction.



I agree with this, as I know myself will tell someone that they are too loud just to get them to talk alittle....

But if by chance she is trying to push his buttons, keeping quiet may just push hers back.... which I know from experience too LOL

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 8:41 am
Posts: 6
I agree that your husband should talk to her personally and frankly. If it happens again, he should talk to HR. In fact, it's HR who should be handling administration of things like personality tests. I doubt a competent HR office would choose a test that includes a comparison to serial killers.

I'm an introvert. Most people know me to be quiet and more of a listener than a speaker, and it's no big deal. A few times, I've come across people who felt my introversion needed to be remedied and that they were the people to do it. I consider such things an intrusion and can be quite direct about it. It's funny how the people who call out an introvert for being too quiet are the same people who blather on with unimaginably inane drivel.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:48 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:45 pm
Posts: 18
Yeah, I don't see the big deal. When I like someone, I joke with them. This person is obviously trying to joke around with "John"...when she talked about serial killers, it was clearly a joke. Would someone make a joke (or comment) if they really thought someone was a killer? No, of course not.

John needs to lighten up a bit. The right thing to do is just smile when she jokes around with him. Being a quiet person is fine, but being a jerk to someone's trying to be your friend comes across as strange. She's clearly trying to be friends with him. Perhaps he's become known as the "outcast of the office" and she's trying as best she knows how to bring him back in. John shouldn't be offended. It would be worse if people didn't joke around with him.

If I'm just waaay off the mark here, perhaps John needs to look for a new department or role at work. Some quiet backoffice where he can be productive without too much inter-personal contact.


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