People and Personalities: Tips for Navigating Workplace Relationships


by Gregg Gregory
December 1, 2016

It was 5:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, and David was getting ready to pack up and head home to spend time with his family. With the recent roll-out of the new software platform, it had been a long few weeks and he had not been able to see his daughter’s last soccer game, where she scored the winning goal, because he was working until almost 10:00 pm.

Just as David was ready to walk out the door, Shawn, the IT manager, screamed. David went to see what the problem was, and Shawn went on and on about how much of the team had left and there was still work to do. He ordered David to call back three regional offices and make sure things were operating correctly. Speaking softly and at a slower pace, David said to Shawn, “I am supposed to…” Suddenly Shawn stopped him abruptly and said “I don’t care, this has to be done tonight and the reports have to be on the VP’s desk first thing in the morning. GET IT DONE!”

Quietly, David went back to his cubicle and sent his wife a text saying that Shawn gave him a last minute task and he would be home as quickly as he could.  David finished up the last of the reports just after 7:45 p.m., emailed them to Shawn and the VP, and then headed out of the office. On his way out he stopped by to say goodbye to Shawn. Shawn just waived his hands as if to say leave him alone. David got home just in time to spend a few minutes with Kylie and Erik before they went to bed. Six weeks later, David resigned.

Has this ever happened to you? I don’t mean having to stay late to finish up a project, we have all done that, and we will do it again in the future. I mean, have you had a boss (or even a colleague) basically scream or bark orders at you?

A friend of mine was once working with a placement agency looking for a new position. Her advisor asked, “How do you feel about working for a loud, obnoxious boss? The pay is about 15–20 percent higher than industry average. You can consider that battle pay.”  Needless to say, my friend said “No thanks” to going on that interview.

In my workshops, the biggest challenge participants share is coping with differing personalities. In fact, one of the top reasons that people leave an organization is because of personality differences. These differences can be with a manager or a colleague.

One of the top reasons that people leave an organization is because of personality differences.
Tweet: One of the top reasons that people leave an organization is because of personality differences. @TeamsRock @ThinkHDI

In this extreme case, it is pretty easy to see how Shawn could have handled the situation better. The challenge is that, too often, the tension is not obvious and can build over a period of time.

There are two easy barometers you can use to measure and determine how you need to adapt to others and be much more successful in your communication. This works for every level within an organization. In fact, it is one of the simplest tools you can use on the service desk when a call comes in.

These two barometers are:

  • Faster Paced Versus Slower Paced
  • Task Based Versus Socially Based

people personalities

As you learn more about the person you are communicating with, you will want to adapt more to their style. For example, if the person you are working with is:

  • Faster Paced and Tasked Based. You want to be more direct and to the point. Very little idle chit chat.
  • Faster Paced and Socially Based. You want to begin the conversation with something that is of interest to them before getting to the point. Be sure to have fun and engage them in the conversation.
  • Slower Paced and Socially Based. You want to learn more about them. Engage them by asking questions, and allow them time to think and process.
  • Slower Paced and Tasked Based. You need to have all of your facts in place and know your details. Little conversation and focus on the task at hand

Shawn, who is a very fast-paced and task-based manager did not recognize that David was slower paced and socially based. Had Shawn followed this model, he would have adapted his communication style and David would likely not have resigned. Remember, David did not resign over the work; he resigned because of how he was treated.

When you take the time to understand the different styles on your team, whether they are subordinates, colleagues, supervisors, or customers, you build trust and gain respect, which in turn, increases productivity, cohesion, and team morale. This simple act can be the most effective communication tool in your tool box.


With more than 1,500 keynotes, breakout sessions, and training workshops under his belt, Gregg Gregory is the teambuilding mastermind America needs today. A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) with more than 25 years working at all levels within in corporate America, Gregg’s experience goes beyond expectations. His expertise and articles have appeared in hundreds of business and trade publications, including SellingPower.com and Boardroom Magazine, as well as appearing on Blog Talk Radio. Follow Gregg and Teams Rock on Twitter @TeamsRock and on Facebook and LinkedIn .


Tag(s): communications skills, employee satisfaction, people, support center, supportworld, workforce enablement

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