Who am I? Who are You?

Working with colleagues can be easy and it can be frustrating. Oftentimes the reason why we find some people easy to work with and others difficult is because we have different personality traits, preferences or styles. If you’re the “bottom-line, just give me what I need to know” type and you encounter the “give me the details and facts” type it’s bound to result in frustration. On the other hand, it’s risky to only surround yourself with people like you because you jeopardize not seeing the whole picture and important information can fly right past you.

Fortunately, there are tools that help you understand your own traits and styles such as the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), DiSC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) and TKI (Thomas-Kilman Instrument). Using tools like these to better understand yourself and others can result in improved interactions and job performance. Let’s take a look at these assessments and how they can help you work more effectively.

MBTI: With the MBTI there are 8 personality preferences which result in a four letter combination, such as ENFJ. The preferences are: extraversion or introversion (E/I), sensing or intuiting (S/N), thinking or feeling (T/F), and judging or perceiving (J/P). The combined four letters indicates your personality preference giving you insight on how you get energized, take in information, make decisions and whether you prefer things to be closed or open-ended. Likewise, it can help you understand the preferences of others.

DiSC: There are four behavioral styles that describe how you tend to approach work and relationships. DiSC measures how you do what you do, that is your behaviors. The D-style stands for dominance and is characterized by someone who is results-oriented, takes risks, is decisive and focuses on the bottom-line. The I-style refers to Influence. This style is seen as enthusiastic, outgoing, impulsive and people-oriented. The S-style stands for steadiness and is described as someone who is patient, considerate, team focused and sincere. Conscientiousness is the C-style and is characterized by accuracy, analysis, quality and objectivity. All styles are valuable and help a team perform well.

TKI: The Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument focuses on your tendencies toward handling interpersonal conflict. The TKI describes five conflict modes and helps you identify the one you use most often when faced with tension or a dispute. The five modes are: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding and accommodating. Being aware of how you tend to handle conflict is the first step. The second step is to recognize and use alternative responses. The TKI helps you steer conflict in constructive directions.

All of these assessments can help you work more effectively with others. The insights you’ll gain about who you are and who others are will surely raise performance, teamwork and satisfaction. Take a class or work with an executive coach to learn more.


Heather Backstrom is an executive coach, leadership development consultant and speaker. She has a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. She can be reached at www.heatherbackstrom.com


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