Workplace personalities

People in office
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Congratulations! You landed your first job and are excited to work with a professional group. The days of cliques, bullies and egoists so prevalent in schools are over, right? Not so fast. Welcome to the real world.

Think of the challenging social dynamics at school as a dress rehearsal for the workplace, except that in business the stakes are higher. Teamwork is the mantra of most companies and enterprise social media appears to be the next wave of collaborative work. These principles are often incorporated into performance reviews, and factored into candidate selections for promotions and special projects. Therefore, workplace socialization is more than about making friends. It is necessary for survival. Success demonstrates your ability to adapt communication styles, work collectively and influence others. Here are a few examples of personalities you may encounter and suggested approaches to manage the interaction.

Some people are outright belligerent. Try not to take it personally and internalize their angst as it most likely has nothing to do with you. If you can detect their pain point and are able to help in some way, that may resolve the issue. In the meantime, act respectfully and avoid being defensive. Eventually they should follow suit.

Outgoing social butterflies can be a distraction. If the individual is someone you like, suggest lunch or happy hour socializing, but discourage excessive chitchat during the workday. Perception is everything and even if you manage to get your work done, watchful eyes may have a different view.

There will be employees who are negative about almost everything. Although you may concur on certain topics, it is best not to get entangled. Negativity can be contagious and there is also the risk of guilt by association. Play devil’s advocate and put a positive spin on the subject scenarios. The ability to influence another’s view will work in your favor in many ways.

In short, being respectful, avoiding distraction and staying positive are contributing factors to playing nicely in the company sandbox. To read more examples of personality types and coexistence strategies, see 5 Different Workplace Types.


Personality and job types: harmony or horror?

frustrated businesswoman
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This falls under the category of: If only I knew then what I know now.

Although we may not like to be categorized, and rightly so since personalities are a blend of different types, Susan Cain’s exploration into the introvert/extrovert dichotomy reveals interesting questions that may help us predict our future success and happiness in particular types of jobs.

In Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” she suggests the following considerations prior to accepting a job offer:

Introverts should ask themselves:

  • Will this job allow me to spend time on in-character activities; for example, reading, strategizing, writing and researching?
  • Will I have a private workspace or be subject to the constant demands of an open office plan?
  • If the job doesn’t give me enough restorative niches (mental or physical place to wind down), will I have enough free time on evenings and weekends to grant them to myself?

Extroverts should ask themselves:

  • Does the job involve talking, traveling and meeting new people?
  • Is the office space stimulating enough?
  • If the job isn’t a perfect fit, are the hours flexible enough that I can blow off steam after work?

So often when a job doesn’t work out we blame ourselves. We question our ability to perform the role, harmonize with co-workers and live up to management’s expectations. Maybe sometimes the job is simply out of sync with our personality.

Being likable goes a long way

thumbs up and the word "like"
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We place so much emphasis on our qualifications during interviews, office activities and networking that it’s easy to forget the importance of likability. Of course, being educated, skilled and articulate is critical, but all things being equal, people who are positive, make eye contact and demonstrate sincerity are easier to be around. Those long hours in the office can feel even longer when spent with Mr. or Ms. Grouch.

This isn’t simply a popularity contest or an effort to nestle in with the office clique. Likable people tend to foster trust, influence change and build collaborative, productive teams. These are the personalities more apt to get hired, gain support at work and receive forgiveness for mistakes, according to The Wall Street Journal article, “Why Likeability Matters More at Work.”

Playing nice in the sandbox does not mean being agreeable all the time. Diplomacy is key to expressing frustration and driving process improvements. Comment on the situation and propose solutions without targeting individuals. The same idea holds true for interview discussions. Talk about challenges overcome in terms of the processes, not the people.

Corporate social responsibility has taken a strong foothold in the business world. Caring and compassion may hold equal significance to the hard skills brought to the job.

Get ready, set, smile!



Email cover letters

Two facing laptops with an arm emerging from each screen and shaking hands on a white background
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Imagine screening hundreds of resumes, searching for the one that will make your job easier. Pressed for time and bleary-eyed, all you want is for the right words and phrases to pop out and yell, Here I am – the one you’ve been looking for.

A well-written cover letter can help both the candidate and hiring manager because it serves as a quick snapshot of a potential match. If written poorly, it will make the screener’s job easier, but not in a good way.

An impactful cover letter focuses on the reader’s objectives rather than the writer’s agenda. Here are a few ideas to accomplish that.

1. Avoid using “I” throughout the letter. This is tricky because, of course, your purpose is to pursue an opportunity; however, the letter needs to convey what the candidate brings to the organization to fill their need.

Example: Rather than I am very interested in this position, state As a graduate of _____ College with a ______ Degree, my knowledge and skills closely align to the requirements of this position.

2. Extract the components, action words and phrases from your resume that highlight your qualifications to the targeted position/ industry. Use bullet points.


  • Expertise in _________

  • Knowledge of ________

  • Proficiency in ________

  • Experience with ______

3. Structure the letter around three essential components:

Source: How did you hear about the position?

Qualifications: What school/work experience have you had that fills the company’s need?

Call to action: Include multiple ways to contact you.

4. Methodically check for grammatical and spelling errors. Don’t rely on the spell-check function as it does not pick up everything. A correctly spelled word may not make contextual sense.

5. Proofread carefully, being mindful that the letter is more than a cover for the resume. It is a demonstration of your email communication skills and attention to detail. Texting may have replaced email socially, but in the corporate world email is alive and well.

6. Close with an emphasis on your desire to apply your knowledge and skills to make a contribution to the organization.

Example: The opportunity to apply my knowledge and skills to support your organization’s goals would be an exciting challenge.