How to work with difficult personalities

By: Leif Babin,

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Working with Different Personalities

Leadership is about dealing with people. And everyone is different. One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is learning how to work with different personality types. While there are general categories, such as introvert or extrovert, into which you can lump people, no two people are exactly the same. Leadership requires working with different personalities to successfully build relationships, get everyone on the team aligned, and get them working together, mutually supporting one another, toward the strategic goal.

‍Extreme Ownership is the Solution to Working with Different Personalities

‍If you’re wondering how to deal with different personalities at work effectively, you must take Extreme Ownership. There are some people we easily connect with and build good relationships with minimal effort. There are others with whom we might find it more difficult to connect and struggle to build relationships with them. Regardless, as leaders, we must recognize that there are only two measures that matter: effective and ineffective. Instead of getting frustrated with others, look at yourself first and examine what you can do more effectively to interact with those with whom you struggle to connect. We must learn how to work with different personality types effectively.

Learning To Work With Different Personality Types: You Can’t Control Others, You Only Control You‍

In training the martial art of Jiu Jitsu, you learn early on that it is far easier to maneuver yourself around your opponent than for you to try and maneuver your opponent around you. Likewise, you can’t control someone else’s personality, how they interact with others, or even how they react to you. But you can control your actions and how you interact with them. And dealing with different personalities at work requires that you interact differently with different people.So, when you feel frustrated with someone with whom you have trouble connecting, instead of getting angry at that person, detach from your emotions, look at yourself and determine how you can more effectively communicate and interact with them to build the best relationship possible. This is not easy to do—Extreme Ownership never is. But it is the only solution to building effective relationships with others you depend on to accomplish your mission and win. Working with different personalities is key to operational success.

Real-World Example of Working With Different Personalities:

‍“We are just never going to get along,” said the senior executive. He was speaking to me about another senior executive at the company. “We’re just two different people with very different personalities.”“That’s interesting,” I responded. “Don’t you depend on this person to accomplish your mission?”“Yes,” the senior executive answered. “But I’ve tried to get along with them and they simply won’t change.”“Anytime you form an antagonistic relationship with another human being—that never helps you,” I said, borrowing a quote from Jocko describing the power of relationships on Extreme Ownership Academy.“You can’t change the other executive, but you can change how you communicate and interact with them,” I said. “And if you can put your own ego in check and take Extreme Ownership, you’ll be surprised the difference you will make in improving your relationship, to the benefit of you, your team, and the mission you are trying to accomplish.”‍

Your Action for Working With People With Different Personalities:‍

This week, reflect on the challenges you face working with different personalities. Examine your interactions with those with whom you may not have the best relationship—at work, in your community, or within your family. Think about what you can do to improve the relationship. Remember, when learning to work with different personality types you can’t control other people. You can only control yourself. So, take ownership of your interaction and communication with others to improve relationships so you and your team can win.

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