Have you ever met someone and right off the bat, you knew you weren’t going to jive with this person?
Whether they gave you a weird look, said something you didn’t like, or generally dressed in a way that turned you off, we have all experienced these first impressions. Did you ever later come to really enjoy that person? Personality types….they can be responsible for those shaky first impressions, but also for the lasting and meaningful relationships developed over time. That is, if we know how to handle them.
At SchoolStatus, we recently took a quick and fun personality test at https://www.16personalities.com/. We each took a few minutes out of our hectic day to get our “letters”. And boy did we have a lot of fun with the site. While we all realized the results can vary based on your mood or the amount of coffee consumed so far in the day, it was still pretty cool to see a neatly packaged description of yourself, as well as with whom you would or would not interact well.
The site provides a ton of detail about your resulting personality type...including famous people and characters with whom you share it. (I always knew Samuel L. Jackson was the coolest, probably because we share a personality type). But after the fun of it faded, I began to really reflect on, not just my personality type, but the personality types of my colleagues. I began to reflect on why certain people rub me wrong, or probably more frequently, why I rub other people wrong, and how I can make small changes to improve myself and the building of relationships. I found that regardless of my strengths and weaknesses, or those of the people with whom I interact, the way we overcome our differences and grow together as a team is with sincere, respectful communication.
Whether originated from nature or nurture, we all have certain idiosyncrasies, many of which we aren’t even aware. And you certainly can't walk around making strangers take a personality test before talking to anyone (I mean, right? Can I do that?). The trick is learning when and how to control those traits. This isn’t a new concept. Managers have known forever that different people need to be managed differently; every colleague needs to be treated differently. Teachers know that students need to be taught differently because they simply learn differently. Whether a student is an emotional or logical thinker, an introvert or extrovert, sensitive to stress or not, is important. For some, it can take weeks or even months of the “getting to know you” phase to arm a teacher with the vital information necessary to effectively reach every student. It’s hard enough keeping up with a student’s academic progress, but also to understand a student on an emotional level...it’s so much more.
There is Hope--Communication. The first step to understanding is engaging communication. It’s impossible to build relationships with friends, colleagues, students, or parents if they are not engaged. While this first step sounds easy, it’s not. It’s not always comfortable to engage with people we don’t know well. Did we not learn at a very early age not to talk to strangers (hello, stranger danger)? But it’s the only way to understand the full picture. It’s the only way to understand the intricacies of another person at work, or a student in your classroom. Once engaged, you can’t stop there!
Now you have to listen. (I know, this is my hardest part too). You have to listen for personality cues in order to empathize and understand students and their families and how you can progress toward a common goal. For an extrovert like me, it’s hard sometimes to stop and listen, to not think that I know everything (I’ll blame that on being an ESTP).
Finally, you must react. Knowing is only half the battle. You must change your behavior based on the situation at hand. Spoiler alert: not everyone likes to be engaged in the same way. Different personality types digest information differently and you have to adjust accordingly. Whether it’s office relationships, parent-teacher relationships, or home relationships, adapting to others (and hopefully them to you) will ultimately lead to happier, healthier, and more productive relationships.
But first you have to start a conversation….
“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles R. Swindoll
Leslie Ortego spends a crazy amount of time thinking about communication. As the Director of Operations at SchoolStatus, Leslie communicates daily with educators, and helps educators to increase communication with their respective communities. The whole crew at SchoolStatus feels so passionate about communication, in fact, we built the best tools in the business for parental engagement. Check out Channel by SchoolStatus here.