Personality clash

We’ve all used the phrase: ‘We had a personality clash’.

But, I’m sorry, personalities don’t clash.  Things clash – boats clash when they get too close.  Colours clash (if you don’t believe me you should see my husband’s red shirt and purple jumper), sometimes heads clash when rugby is being played.

But personalities don’t clash.

Saying that personalities clash is just an excuse for not taking the time to get to know someone.  It’s easier to put it down to a mythical clash of personalities than to actually understand what makes someone tick.

Okay, I agree that sometimes it takes more effort with some people than with others, but often that effort is rewarding and more often doubly so in a business context.

So why is it difficult, sometimes, to get to know what makes your interlocutor tick and why is it easy with other people?

Well, there’s a fairly simple reason for this and it’s all to do with how we make decisions about people and how we work with them.

Some people are relationship focussed and others are task orientated.  Those same people might take time to make their mind up about someone, others do it quickly… make their mind up, that is.

So, if we have a person who is relationship focussed and makes their mind up quickly we put a label on them – Spontaneous.


If we have a person who is task orientated and is pretty quick in their decision making we call them Decisive.  If someone takes their time to make their mind up but still is relationship focussed, i.e., they like to get to know the person, we call them Cautious.

Finally, we have slow decision makes who are task orientated and we call them Considered.

With me so far?


Now if you have a Spontaneous decision maker working with someone of the same type, all is well and good.  They make their minds’ up quickly based on whether they like the person or not.  And, because they are the same, the chances are they will like each other.

However, put a Spontaneous person with a Considered and run for your life.  Seriously, run a mile, ‘cos there’s going to be fall out.

The Spontaneous person will wonder what is wrong with the Considered because they are dithering and keep banging on about the ‘devil is in the detail’ and generally being annoying about the product.

On the other hand, the Considered person can’t understand why the Spontaneous person keeps on rolling their eyes and looking longingly at the exit.

Unless, that is, they recognise their styles are different and can see beyond them to real person behind.

Then we don’t have ‘personality clash’ we have real understanding and our businesses are the stronger for it.

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