Without a theory, framework, and understanding of personality types, people tend to judge others in comparison to themselves, explains Scott Blanchard in a recent article entitled, Understanding Others Begins with Understanding Yourself. Once that happens, you are very susceptible to “BLM Syndrome,” which is “Behave Like Me.” As Blanchard explains, “Without a way to understand how we’re different, it is very easy to judge the other person as being somehow insufficient.”
“For example, if my dominant temperament craves variety, action, and a freedom to act without hindrance, I may devalue and see as obstacles people who are peacekeepers and more team focused, collaborative, and harmonious.
“While I may be very comfortable with change, and open to it, and even drive it most of the time, there are other temperaments that come from a place that is more cautious and wary of change. There is nothing wrong with either disposition—they are just different. Still, it’s very easy for someone who is more ‘change able’ to judge others who are not as ready. Conversely, it is very easy for someone who is more careful and guarded to turn around and judge someone who likes change as being less than rigorous in their thinking and not very respectful of achievements in the past.”
Dealing with your shadow
This is especially true when you are working with someone who is least like you. Blanchard refers to this as your “shadow” temperament.
“This is often experienced as an initial reflexive allergic reaction to someone, but you can’t put your finger on why,” explains Blanchard. “Often, the culprit is that the person’s dominant temperament is your shadow. That’s an incredibly important and helpful realization. Now you can manage your feelings. It’s also helpful when you notice that someone’s having an allergic reaction to you for no apparent reason. You can explore that you might possibly be their shadow.”
Understand yourself to better understand others
Recognizing the way you are helps you to understand how you are different from other people. Using this as a starting point, you can begin to modulate your communication style to be more effective with people who are different from yourself. It also keeps you from defaulting to a lazy, “Well this is the way I am, I can’t change,” attitude.
Blanchard’s advice for better work relationships?
- Job one is to understand yourself as best you can.
- Next, empathize and understand that people come from diverse perspectives.
- Finally, be able to engage in strategies that can foster better communication between people who may have profound differences in the way they see the world.
To read more about what Blanchard has to say about temperament and personality at work, check out the full text of Understanding Others Begins with Understanding Yourself. Also see the information about a free webinar Blanchard is conducting on March 28, Temperament at Work: Understanding yourself and others.