Understanding your temperament in the workplace

28 Nov Understanding your temperament in the workplace

A variety of personalities and temperaments can sometimes cause disagreements and challenges at work. Yet diversity actually creates a great balance in the workplace, boosting innovation, collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

Learning how to understand and appreciate your own temperament is key to contributing positively to your work environment and working well with others. But how do you identify what kind of temperament you have?

Many people adapt their behaviours and the ‘self’ they project to the world according to the context or situation they are in. However, a person’s core temperament, personality and values tend to remain the same.

Here is a framework to help you understand what your temperament and mindset look like in the workplace.

The ‘Big 5’ temperament types

Are you curious and eager to learn, or do you prefer to stay in your comfort zone? Are you self-motivated and organised, or does your attention wander? Do you inspire others to jump on board with your ideas, or do you prefer to follow instructions from others?

A common temperament/personality framework used in psychology is based on the following ‘Big 5’ personality traits:

1. Openness to experience. Openness to new ideas and learning experiences can be a great trait to have in the workplace, sparking innovation and creativity among the team. On the flipside, those with high openness can be interpreted as erratic and inconsistent with their beliefs and behaviours.

2. Conscientiousness. Conscientious at work usually goes hand-in-hand with a strong work ethic, which employers and colleagues value highly. Low conscientiousness is less appealing and can come across as sloppiness and a lack of reliability.

3. Extroversion. Extroversion and introversion are about where a person’s source of energy comes from. For extroverts, spending time with other people helps them to recharge, whereas introverts are energised by spending time alone. Most people are a combination of both.

4. Agreeableness. Agreeableness refers to a tendency to be understanding, helpful and accepting of people’s differences. It’s linked to Emotional Intelligence (EI), as the more agreeable a person is, the more likely they are to be empathetic and to form strong connections with colleagues.

5. Neuroticism. Neuroticism refers to a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions easily, such as anxiety, stress, depression or anger. Those with higher neuroticism tend to be more sensitive and even nervous or flighty, while those with less neuroticism come across as more secure and stable.

Remember that personalities are complex and multi-faceted, so these ‘Big 5’ temperament types are just a basic guide to help you identify some of your personality traits. Understanding your temperament at work will help you to feel a sense of autonomy and control over your work life, as well as maximise your enjoyment in your role.