If you are like most people, you spend most of your waking hours at work. Getting along with your co-workers is not only necessary for your professional success, but also for your sanity. Whatever your own personality type, it’s likely that you’ll encounter clashing personality types and traits that make existing in your office difficult. This is why knowing these traits and how to deal with them will make work more enjoyable.
ESTJs — The Supervisor
ESTJs are characterized by their natural leadership abilities, visionary thinking and take-charge attitude. They are good at long-range planning, and they can often see exactly what actions need to be taken to get results. Because they like to get things done, they have no problems letting you know exactly how they feel. This makes them difficult to deal with at times. The same traits that make the ESTJ so reassuringly assertive can be seen as conceited or aggressive in some situations.
When you are working with an ESTJ, it is important to understand that they are extremely goal-oriented. While they may come across as overly demanding, they are actually laser-focused on goals. This can make them lack the social niceties that the rest of us are used to. For example, an ESTJ may stop into your work space and immediately start talking about a project instead of first engaging in small talk. Getting along with an ESTJ means giving them regular updates, showing that you are onboard with their ideas, and providing constructive feedback.
Because ESTJs are used to being in charge, it may be difficult for them to allow others to take the lead. INTPs, INTJs and ENTPs in particular might find it upsetting when the ESTJ isn't falling over herself to listen to their ideas. ESTJs would also benefit from finding a softer tune in order to work with the creative types like ISTPs and ISFPs, who don’t deal so well with conflict.
How to work with an ESTJ:
- Accept the roles they give you, even if it's just for a specific task
- Try not to take on the ESTJ’s stress
- Accept their dedication to systems and goals
- Understand that the ESTJ probably works harder than most team members -- try cutting her some slack and encouraging her to relax a little.
INFP – The Healer
Different from the logical ESTJ, the INFP is led by ideals, not rewards. You’ll typically spot an INFP by the focus that she tends to give to metaphors and symbols, or the periods in which she drifts off dreamily into thought. INFPs are often offbeat and unconventional -- the true artist type. They can relate to fellow human beings unlike any other personality type, and often intervene to stop office arguments from happening and keep the peace. An INFP committed to the success of a company or the fulfillment of certain goals can be the most valuable member of a team.
What makes INFPs difficult co-workers? Without direction, they might lose track of their tasks and duties which throws an extra burden on the rest of the team. INFPs do not react well to high-stress environments either, so a skilled manager needs to set the goals, create accountability, and let the INFP do what he does best -- create. Ironically, an ESTJ has the management skills to support the INFP, and these two types work well together. INFPs also relate well with ENFPs and INFJs, but might not get along well with the practical and factual-minded ISTJ.
How to work with an INFP:
- Help him to keep track of his tasks by being a model of diligence. Friendly reminders won’t do any harm either as the INFP is neither competitive nor proud.
- Integrate him into your team and group of friends.
- Try to relate to your INFP coworkers as much as they relate to you. In this way, you will understand many of their reasons for doing something and you’ll be able to work together better.
The ESTP – The Dynamo
You know the ESTP when you meet him. He's the most popular person in the office. He enjoys freedom and is often the social planner. He likes to think outside the box, too, often challenging the status quo and the ideas of others. He’s also perceptive and well-tuned to the workplace mood.
Despite being the life and soul of the party, ESTPs can be hard to get along with. They are pretty impatient, and often make impulsive decisions that later backfire. They miss the "big picture" because they live only in the here and now. They also have a habit of breaking the rules. If there is an ESTP on your team, you’ll have a great time troubleshooting. But many ESTPs lack the follow through needed to make things happen. Get really specific on accountability, or the onus might be on you to finish up the project and make sense of those "big ideas."
While ESTPs might get along with charismatic ENFJs and social ESFJs, their energetic, act-first style might not resonate well with the fact-minded ISTJ, managerial ESTJ or intellectual INTJ. These types in particular might struggle with the ESTP’s gossip-loving nature and her ability to use any information she has to gain the upper hand at work. ESTPs are the people that the term "office politics" was invented for.
How to work with an ESTP:
- Avoid falling too deeply into her social games
- Encourage him to follow professional objectives
- Don’t take responsibility if her plans backfire or fall through
- Avoid creating a situation in which multiple voices fight for the role of team leader -- where appropriate, let the ESTP take this role.
ISFJ – The Protector
The ISFJ is how most people would describe their ideal friend or co-worker. Caring and compassionate, ISFJs have a high level of empathy and often put the needs of others ahead of their own. They tend to be “Introverted Extraverts” – meaning they are more comfortable being alone, but they can get out and be social when the occasion calls for it. They have a strong desire to do good, and often work in helping roles. They believe in their work and are motivated by their ability to change the world, or at least part of it.
The biggest downside to working with an ISFJ is that not everyone wants a protector, but ISFJs don't seem to realize this. They are always ready and willing to perform a rescue, even when you didn't ask for one. Commanding types like the ENTJ or the ESTJ will likely resent being “protected” by an overbearing ISFJ. Moreover, due to the ISFJ’s desire to help others, they tend to overburden themselves with tasks, completing them only half-heartedly. As a result, it’s the ISFJ’s colleagues that will have to make up for the work in the end.
How to work with an ISFJ:
- Enlist her help or advice with a project. This will instantly get her on your side.
- Don’t snap at him or use sarcasm. This will create a lasting rift between you and the ISFJ because it gives him the impression that his drive to do good is meaningless and misguided. As a reaction, he may direct his annoyance toward a different coworker or goal.
- Relate to her sensitive nature before you judge her
- Notice and appreciate his many selfless acts, as the ISFJ himself tends to underplay his accomplishments.
Summing It All Up
It can be challenging to deal with the myriad of personality types that exist in the workplace. From the supervisor who over-enforces the rules to the overbearing helper who won't take no for an answer. Dealing with these people can make work-life harder than it needs to be.
The first step in making your work life more bearable is to find out what your personality type is and to compare it to the others in the office. Undoubtedly, each type has its strengths and weaknesses. Before you judge the other types too harshly, remember that they have to get along with you too!