Understanding and managing communication and work style differences
“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
- Anais Nin
One of the biggest challenges that and manager faces is that everyone is different (to each other and to you)! One approach will not suit everyone. Your own personality preferences will affect how others perceive your intentions and communication. Whilst we can never know exactly what others are thinking or feeling, there are some frameworks that can help us to understand why some people behave in particular ways. Once we have a framework, we can put in place different ways of working and communicating to enable others to be successful.
Here we use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a framework for understanding and better managing people who differ in terms of how they:
- are energised (Introversion and Extraversion)
- process information (Sensing and Intuition)
- make decisions (Thinking and Feeling)
- plan and adapt to the world (Judging and Perceiving)
Clearly, each of these four elements have relevance to how people will communicate, conduct their research as well as how they will work within and contribute to a team.
Whilst the MBTI tool does not complete explain someone’s personality, it can save time and energy in trying to work out why certain communication styles or working practices can be both valuable to some people and frustrating to others. Understanding your own personality type and working style can also help you to identify where you may differ from your team. It can also help to understand how our differences can be hugely valuable in achieving positive results.
Our curated collection of articles, videos and more in-depth materials will help you to better understand your team (and yourself) and find ways of planning and communicating so that they can all thrive:
Take the test
If you haven’t completed an MBTI personality preference assessment before then you can take a quick online test. It can be a fun and thought-provoking activity to get your whole team to take the test. You can then discuss the outcomes and implications at a team meeting or awayday. That way everyone is involved in creating a thriving environment.
Quick introductions to the MBTI theory:
- Quick view: This four-minute video gives overview of the MBTI and the four elements of personality.
- Quick read: Scannable one-page descriptions of the theory and four personality preferences:
In depth articles: using MBTI in your leadership
- Long read - MBTI as a tool for researchers (pdf) - This engaging blog post by a researcher, collaborator and coach beautifully describes the nuances of how personality preferences play out in a research setting.
- Exploring personality differences in the workplace. The following articles describe the four personality preferences and give valuable insights in to how the different types might perceive (or misinterpret) one another, as well as advice on how to manage people with the different types:
- How to lead introverts and extraverts
Internal resources and guidance
- Managing difficult conversations
External resources and guidance
- MBTI ‘type heads’ and ‘stress heads’ – helpful infographics that summarise what helps us to thrice and what creates stress, according to our MBTI type
- Susan Cain’s book and Ted Talk on the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is an important must for both introverts and extraverts.
- The official Myers Briggs Foundation provides
- 16 Personalities provides caricatures of each personality type to help you to better understand yourself and others
- Nancy Kline’s Time to Think website and book describe how to create an effective thinking environment.