(…and how to get along better with your coworkers!)

What is your personality type? Have you ever considered that you might have a dominant or consistent personality trait which characterizes you – how you react, lead, follow, and interact with others most of the time – both for the good or the bad? Each of us has been created to reflect a consistent pattern of behaviors which help us cope with life and communicate with others throughout the day. Many times, when we get angry with others, it is a result ineffective communication or perhaps more simply, we do not easily “get” or like their personality traits (which could mean they are just like you or they are the complete opposite). Either way, you have the opportunity today to learn more about your own personality trait and why you seem to get along better with some over others. Take a few minutes and keep reading, as this quick exercise may save you a mountain of headaches and frustrations later in life as you learn how to “read,” understand, and better interact with other personality types than your own. By the way, you owe it to yourself and others to make peace when possible and that means avoiding potential conflict (if it can be avoided) by simply learning how to better understand and communicate with others (family and co-workers).

Though our personalities do not define who we are as people, our “personalities” can be easily misunderstood or mischaracterized by others who either don’t “get” us or don’t appreciate personality differences. As unique as each one of us is on this beautiful planet, sociologists have worked hard to narrow down all of our varying personalities into four main or basic personality types. Though no personality test or inventory is 100% accurate all of the time, these tests can help us learn about our fundamental personality types and more so, learn about those different than us. Among a variety of technical tests and inventories which help people identify their personality structures, perhaps the most “user friendly” (easiest to use and understand) personality inventory comes from authors Gary Smalley and John Trent and employs four basic personality types modeled after animals in nature: the Lion, the Beaver, the Otter, and the Golden Retriever.

In the following section, you can take your personality test based on Smalley and Trent’s inventory which will describe you as having one dominant personality type modeled after one of the four animals (or a combination of several of their traits). After you take and score your inventory, read on to define what is your basic personality trait (its positives and areas for growth); finally, read about the other personality types (Lion, Beaver, Otter, Golden Retriever) so that you will be able to know how your personality type best interacts with others. Doing this important exercise and being willing to learn about others and to grow inter-personally will go a long way in helping you communicate better with others and solve inevitable conflict.