7 Personality Principles to Boost Office Productivity

They don't give out a Ph.D. on how to talk to people.

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By Michael Mamas

Thomas Barwick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Productivity at work is usually measured by how many emails you send, papers you write, phone calls you make, or things you check off a To-Do list. There are plenty of books you can read for techniques on improving your productivity, but I want to talk about the largely untapped Personality Factor that plays a huge role in how efficiently you work.

Even though individual personalities have a huge impact on how well a company functions, it is often a taboo subject. The exception is employees gossiping about one another, which further compounds the problem. A better solution for addressing personality quirks is to talk about them openly.

Oftentimes, a simple non-judgmental acknowledgement of an employee's personality traits can be very comforting to other employees. This is very different than gossip. Once fully acknowledged, how to deal with the issue constructively usually becomes self-evident. Personality traits are too numerous to name, but with these seven fundamental principles, the door will be open for you to begin working on improving the productivity of your entire office.

Related: Blend These 7 Personality Types When Building Your Executive Team

1. Vulnerability.

Human beings are incredibly vulnerable creatures. Personality is largely molded around how people hide, protect, or defend what they feel is a personal core weakness. The first thing you have to do is recognize the other person's vulnerability. Vulnerability is not a weakness that you exploit, but rather a quality that you honor and respect.

To see another person's vulnerability is a skill. It's the development of insight. You look beyond the person's words to try to get a sense of their heart. For example, someone may be behaving very properly on the surface, but you can sense an underlying insecurity—their heartfelt vulnerability and tenderness.

2. The core wound.

Everyone has been hurt in one way or another. Psychologists say that the nature of one's personality is determined by the nature of the hurts they experienced in early childhood. People carry those hurts with them for the rest of their lives. When those hurts are triggered, they cut to the depth of one's vulnerability.

3. The defense.

Needless to say, individuals find a way to protect themselves from those core wounds. Some protect themselves aggressively with anger, like a coat of armor donned preemptively. Others hide away in fear. Others artfully dance around issues.

Related: 4 Strategies to Improve How You Deal With Conflict

4. Understanding.

By identifying a person's vulnerability, core wound, and defensive strategy, you can begin to understand that person's behavior in the office. Without that understanding, you won't be able to work with them effectively. Having a sense of these factors that converge into individual personalities will go a long way in creating harmonious and productive workflow.

5. Safety.

The only way to connect with an employee on a genuine level is to help them feel safe. Safe means confident that you will not attack their wound or their vulnerability. The key principle here is basic respect. People can sense your attitude towards them and their personal issues, and a sense of security becomes the gateway to cultivating a constructive working relationship.

6. Feeling your way.

There is no formula for how to deal with different personality types. The process is one of exploration and observation. You can see how people respond to different things. You can approach them in a manner, see how they respond, and adjust accordingly. It's almost like you are putting out feelers to get a sense of how best to relate to them. For example, some people may really like you to refer to an idea as nutty or ridiculous. Others may consider it harsh and insensitive. Different people need to be related to differently.

7. Being, merging, knowing, and doing

Typically, people want to start with learning how to deal with different personalities. That approach, though, is all upside down. If we understand a person, then what to do is self-evident. Understanding starts with being stable within our own self. From there, we observe the other person, we feel how they operate. In this way, we merge with that person. Through being and merging, we come to know the person. At that point, we don't need to be told what to do. We have a good idea of the direction things need to go.

Related: These 4 Personalities Make Up Your Startup 'Dream Team'

Personalities in practice

There is no such thing as the perfect employee. We are all human. However, being able to respectfully and non-judgmentally characterize the personalities of your staff is invaluable. Working with these seven principles in a constructive, dignified, and honorable manner will greatly enhance your company's workflow. It will prevent major conflicts and turnover—two factors that are a huge detriment to productivity. Being able to talk respectfully and effectively with your team members is one of the most significant things you can do to improve the productivity of your company, and it doesn't cost you a penny.

Michael Mamas

Founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality

Dr. Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. From personal issues to global trends, Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a "bridge" between the abstract and concrete, the eastern and western, and the ancient and modern. Mamas has been teaching for 35 years and writes on a variety of subjects on his blog, MichaelMamas.net.

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