It never fails. Whenever I'm asked to do a client intervention to help diffuse a conflict of some sort, the first thing I do is have the parties involved take a personality inventory.

I'm doing this because 90 percent of the time, I find, conflicts are due to how we are wired at our very core. Our personality typologies hear differently, speak differently, and work differently.

This is when things get sketchy, if you work in teams or across functions. What I've learned is that each personality type (there are four, I'll get to them in a minute) has its distinct strengths, but also opportunities for development, or blind spots.

These blind spots are our "Achilles Heel"-- what limits us from communicating, relating, and working with others at an optimum level. And every person on the planet has them.

In order to build better working relationships at all levels of your organization, minimize conflict and work with others to reach goals, you have to develop your people skills. This means understanding not only your own type and how you roll, but understanding other people's types and how they roll.

The 4 Personality Types -- Which Are You?

As you look over the strengths and blind spots of each type, take notice of which TWO types come closest to defining who you truly are. Reason being is that most of us have a primary type, and a secondary type. They will show up in different situations, sometimes benefiting you, other times holding you back.

Here they are...

Leader Type

Strengths that make them shine: The No.1 need of the Leader Type is to get results. They see the big picture, and focus on the bottom line. They are driven, communicate with urgency, and always follow through to get the job done. Their propensity for "winning" and high need for achievement comes through strong due to their competitive nature.They are take-charge people, even if they're not your boss, or a boss.

Blind spots that hold them back: They are seen as too controlling or aggressive, and not sensitive to the needs of others, often valuing the job over people. They make decisions too quickly, and can come across as critical and unsupportive of other people's ideas. Because they are hard nosed, they have poor listening skills. They want to solve a problem and move on. Their biggest fault, perhaps, is lacking a collaborative work style which tends to demoralize others. You'll find Leader Types frequently clashing and stepping on other's toes, especially the People Type.

People Type

Strengths that make them shine: The No.1 need of the People Type is to connect. They enjoy creative outlets often in service to others. They also have a strong desire to know and understand themselves. They want to know who they are.Of the four types, they are the best communicators. They can relate to all other types much easier and their concern for others is high. They are excellent facilitators of other people's growth, so think about that as you identify potential managers to develop teams. People Types like jobs that involve a high degree of social interaction. They do not like to be alone in a job. Examples of chosen careers are sales, human resources, social work, teaching, and various medical professions.

Blind spots that hold them back: People Types are seen as non-assertive and avoiding conflict, typically holding things inside. They tend to put the needs of others ahead of their own and are overly sensitive to criticism. They make popular decisions versus the "right one." They can be easily influenced by others (accommodating) when their tendency to please others is running on high.

Free-Spirit Type

Strengths that make them shine: The No.1 need of the Free Spirit type is for personal freedom and adventure. They crave excitement in all areas of life--home, work, and play. Free Spirit Types do not like to be tied down by convention even if this is required by regulation or rules. They see life as offering a myriad of opportunities and experiences, and they need to sample them all. Mutual freedom is their philosophy. They've thought or said, "You do your thing and I'll do mine." They set and achieve ambitious goals, and they do not like to be told "You can't." They bring a sense of flair, looking at old situations and problems in new ways that others may not see. Free Spirit Types are drawn to careers that provides adventure, excitement and autonomy. They cannot be tied down to normal 9 to 5 jobs. So you'll often see Free Spirits working as stock brokers, actors, entrepreneurs, and camp directors.

Blind spots that hold them back: They are seen as lacking discipline and follow through, and quite disorganized. They grow bored easily and want to change things up, sometimes on a whim. Their constant need for "the next challenge" can cause conflict with other team members. They start many jobs and finish few. They often do not plan ahead--they live for today. They ignore details and become sloppy. They'll resist and rebel against authority.

Task Type

Strengths that make them shine: The No.1 need of the Task Type is for structure. They are all about getting the job done well. They are extremely hard working, dependable, reliable, and take a no-nonsense approach to life. They enjoy being organized. They structure their day from the time they get up to the time they go to bed. They feel wonderful when they accomplish everything on the lists they are constantly writing to themselves. Their major strengths are a strong personal commitment to their work, being precise, punctual, and seeing that others do the same to get the job done right. Their stick-to-it-ness and perseverance to get the job done or overcoming a challenge is extraordinary. They take responsibility very seriously.

Blind spots that hold them back: They are seen as having difficulty dealing with change. Their need for structure makes them too rigid, not flexible. They are workaholics and have trouble having fun. They can be too demanding of self and others. They often need too much direction and prodding to move things along, causing conflict with co-workers.

What Do You Do with All This Information?

Well, for starters, companies need to train their employees to develop their people skills to complement their technical and "hard" skills and abilities.

As employees, when you better understand the personality types of those around you (including yourself), you can leverage the strengths of each member to work and communicate better.

I have personally seen whole departments and offices boost morale, increase productivity, and decrease conflict in a major way, leading to these outcomes:

  • Better working relationships between management and staff.
  • Better working relationships between teams and across functions.
  • Better working relationships with the executive team.
  • Better working relationships between sales and/or customer service and clients/customers.

How have you used your own personality type strength to work better with others unlike you? How have you overcome your own blind spots? Leave me a comment or feel free to hit me up on Twitter.