Even the best of us feel unsettled at work from time to time. We all go through it--maybe it's something that showed up on our annual review, or we're consistently tired out by our job, or a relationship is somehow off kilter. Whatever the problem, there's a good possibility that you can address it by understanding what derailed you in the first place and working through your thinking and behaving preferences--or your personal strengths and success factors--to straighten it out.

Take Gabe for example. He is a member of the leadership team at a medium-size public relations firm. He's an analytical guy and definitely on the more introspective end of the expressiveness spectrum. Thus, he felt his role was to add a voice of reason to the leadership team, yet to remain a voice that was heard only when he had something that was very much worth saying.

Gabe enjoyed being part of a team and produced consistently good work, so when his first performance review came back subpar, he was shocked. It turned out his peers, who were still getting used to the new guy, perceived Gabe's analytical approach as cold, calculated, and even critical. They felt his limited verbal participation in meetings showed disinterest if not disrespect.

That feedback rocked Gabe's world. He never meant to rub anyone the wrong way, but clearly he was not perceived by his peers the way he wanted to be. So he created a plan to remedy the situation using his preference for social style of thinking. He visited each of his peer directors in their offices. Not only was this process valuable to Gabe in terms of getting specific feedback; it also showed that he cared about what they thought, and that he was actually fun to talk to in a more intimate setting.

Gabe's is but one example of how certain thinking and behavior preference can cause misunderstanding, and how one can use those same preferences to remedy a situation and bring about success. For example, a structural thinker perceived as a poor delegator might create a spreadsheet for tracking delegable tasks. A social thinker perceived as lacking business expertise could tap into their network of resources to access the information needed. A conceptual thinker can use their mind to formulate an excellent plan of attack for any that may need strengthened.

If you find that your work is exhausting it could be because your role is too far out of alignment with your preferences for thinking and behaving. Think of these seven attributes (4 thinking and 3 behaving) as rubber bands of varying sizes. You can stretch each one in whatever direction the situation requires. If your job inherently requires a lot of structure, which isn't your strong suit, that structure rubber band is going to have to be stretched out every day just to meet the job requirements. That's exhausting.

I actually do know an engineer who gave up that career to go into sales. The isolation of the engineering lab did not suit his social thinking preference and gregarious nature. He thrived in his new environment and ultimately became the owner of the company. There is no job that requires a certain Profile, but having job duties that are aligned with your thinking and behaving preferences is still important. No matter how great the sales job, a quiet individual who has to talk all day to make a living is going to be exhausted.

If your job duties aren't currently aligned with your preferences, use your strengths to come up with a plan for changing that. Bounce your situation, whatever it is, off of someone you trust whose preferences are opposite of yours. A complementary partner is supportive and has your best interests at heart, but will see things in a way you don't.

Published on: Apr 14, 2015