While everyone is an individual, we all have a tendency to lean towards certain behaviours or preferences. Part of the reason is nature, it’s just who we are, but a great part of that is nurture – what we have learned.
And just as something is learned, so it can be ‘unlearned’ and replaced with more helpful approaches to different challenges. Coach Lucy Barkas explores four key personality types, and how they affect the way that we respond to work and life.
The four personality types
While we may have a complex array of personality traits, we generally fall into four key behavioural groups:
- Activists learn as they go along, and work it out along the way.
- Reflectors prefer to read, watch, observe, then reflect, and mentally embed what they have learned.
- Theorists like to watch, observe and read, then figure it out mentally through evidence, data and analysis, and learn through processing.
- Pragmatists take on teachings or new learnings from a variety of sources, and then like to quickly to put theory into practice.
What’s your personality type?
To help you discover what kind of personality type you may be, take a look at the descriptions below.
Are you an activist?
Some people are doers, or activists. You know the type, act first, think later, and just jump straight in. This is a learning style that was itself learned as a child.
Often confident, often extrovert, the activists and doers learned that just jumping in, getting it done, and moving on gets results. There is often a lot of adrenalin, and stimulation is often gained from the external and high energy and risk taking. However, there is often very little thought, reflection and deep learning that occurs as a result of the action.
Are you a reflector?
The opposite of an activist is a reflector. Reflectors tend to hang back, mull things over, watch, learn and think. They maybe more introverted, and as a child may not have been as confident.
In the playground or classroom, they were probably pushed out of the way by the activists and developed their own style of learning. This worked for them then, and therefore continues as an adult. They are often more internally focused and much more aware of the being side of them. The down side of reflection is that there is often a lot of inaction. Calm, quiet and reflective is great, as long as you keep moving forward and experience life – after all life keeps moving forward, and so should we.
Are you a theorist?
Theorists like to think, observe, and then develop their understanding, essentially theorising what’s going on. They may be more analytical by nature, and may like to interpret what that have seen, observed, and know to be true, and look for patterns to make sense of the world around them.
Theorists may have been brought up in a more analytical and perhaps sceptical world. They have learned to question, challenge, and look for the evidence. They may also dismiss opportunities, experiences and learnings as there is no evidence to support its value, worth or result.
Are you a pragmatist?
Pragmatists, like activists, like to get stuck in and get things done. They like to try things out, experiment, and play around; they diversify, and are creative; they love to learn, and are happy to be ‘taught’, read, watch and do, but then want to try out what they’ve learned straight away.
Again, in the classroom, they were probably itching to get stuck in but were elbowed out-of-the-way by the activists. They benefited from listening to the teacher, then trying it out. It worked for them then, and continues to do so now.
Why it’s important to understand your personality type
While each personality type has its benefits, there are also drawbacks. For example if, like activists, we’re always busy doing, do we have time to look within and really understand ourselves? Are we missing out on an opportunity to explore what we have learned, and what impact that has had on us internally, so we can change things for the better next time?
Equally, if you’re only ever engaged in internal reflection, how can you be aware of what’s happening around you? And are you missing out on vital life experiences? You can read up about mountains, know the best routes up, what gear you need and the impact on your body – you can even look at photos of the views, but unless you actually DO it, you’ll never know how it feels for adrenalin to course through your veins, or to reach the summit and absorb in the breathtaking view.
And while a theorist may have excellent, well-considered reasons for how they act, they may never know the liberating feeling of spontaneity – of simply acting in the spur of the moment on faith or instinct – or the freedom of just being, with a still, quiet mind.
Start practising new approaches to situations
By understanding your own preferences, you can start to notice the positive and negative influences they have over your behaviour. And if you wish, you can make a conscious effort to step away from old habits and start practicing new ways of approaching your life.
You can be free to choose the most appropriate response for each situation or challenge, and practise experiencing life from different perspectives and adopting new behaviours which feel better and bring greater professional and personal rewards. It may not be easy at first, but in time new habits will soon feel natural – and you’ll start seeing the results.
You can find out more about Lucy’s coaching on her website.Lucy Barkas