Playing Well with Others at the Cube Farm (part 2)

iScribe is a red-headed amazon writer, collager, ballroom dancer obsessed with journals and anything of an organizational nature. Currently the proud owner of a hip Hipster. Enneagramically she's a very healthy Type 2, with a strong 1 wing. iScribe has a line to 8 which only comes out when she's shooting back tequila. She also has a line to 4 that peeks out in glee when she's at her favorite nightspot, the Necropoli. But those remain fairly dormant until such circumstances arise.

Last week I introduced the not-widely-known concept of the Enneagram and how it can be a useful tool in discovering more about yourself. This week we take that knowledge and show you how you can use it to relate and work better with others. I admit this is not for everybody. Some people would rather stick their heads into the proverbial sand rather than work on bettering themselves or changing negative behaviors (i.e.: “That red stapler is MINE! MINEMINEMINE! Nooo touchy!”). Why? Well, to be blunt, looking at oneself can be pretty darn scary, that’s why. We have a personal image to uphold in our minds and to notice any cracks in that reflection could feel a bit defeating. Besides, so many of the motivational brew-ha-has your company drags you to are more about focusing on working HARDER and FASTER, not necessarily HAPPIER.

Playing Well with Others at the Cube Farm (part 1)

iScribe is a red-headed amazon writer, collager, ballroom dancer obsessed with journals and anything of an organizational nature. Currently the proud owner of a hip Hipster. Enneagramically she's a very healthy Type 2, with a strong 1 wing. iScribe has a line to 8 which only comes out when she's shooting back tequila. She also has a line to 4 that peeks out in glee when she's at her favorite nightspot, the Necropoli. But those remain fairly dormant until such circumstances arise.

“You cannot pick your family but you can pick your friends.” There's a lot of truth to that statement. Your friends, whom you hold currently in high regards, had to go through quite an extensive interview phase. How much do you have in common? Are they ethical? Do they value a sense of humor or geeky intelligence? Can they down a pint in less than 5 seconds? Crucial info here. However, your Family is a different entity altogether. You’re stuck with them, sometimes for better, sometimes because you have to.

The same goes for your office mates. Coworkers, I believe, fall into the Family Category. When you start at a new office or acquire a new neighbor to peek over the cubicle threshold at your activities, it’s like being invited over to the in-laws. Or worse, gaining a little sister who adores to micro-manage your every whereabouts and who-za what-zits. You don’t pick them; they are tossed upon you. Like a family, coworkers can make you enjoy your job or turn it into a living hell. And like a family, it takes years to learn everyone’s quirks, pleasantries and issues. Unfortunately for most of us we don’t have years to train our coworkers to know our insides and outs. Heck, we don’t WANT years, we want to learn how to get along with our cube mates NOW.

Look Both Ways

improv(photo credit seanhphotos)

We're often counseled to consider things from all angles, or to look at both perspectives, but that's trickier than it sounds if you haven't really practiced the skill. How often have you heard, "I'm just playing the devil's advocate." By the way, that often means, "I'm going to slam your idea now." Here are some thoughts on perspective and viewpoint.

The Epic Tale of Ivanhoe the Cat

Kitten on phone ( out of university a decade or so ago, I was fresh-faced and eager to explore the seemingly limitless opportunities afforded to me through my career choice as a high school English teacher. Unfortunately, I soon learned that such jobs were exceedingly rare in my province (even more so nowadays), and so it was with a great sense of surprise that I landed a half-time position in a community about an hour outside of town. Of course, I seized upon the opportunity, but found myself in dire straights immediately. I was now expected to find lodgings I could afford, which worked out to a mere three hundred a month after a minimal grocery and utility budget was extracted from my meagre paycheque.

Now, by sheer coincidence, another young teacher --let's call him Joe Smith-- was hired the same day, and it turned out that I had met him briefly at a mutual friend's house a month before. Not only that, but he was looking for someone to split the cost of a house rental in the area. That evening, I moved in the essentials (bed, computer and books), and began the adjustment to my new job and surroundings. And to Joe.

He was cat-like in his habits. He was exceptionally tidy, spent an hour a day grooming himself, loved sports and games, and enjoyed prowling about the town like a tomcat in the evenings. And he had one other feline trait: he would do anything and everything he could get away with.

How to Be Productive and Creative: Fitting In To Your Company

My picture nameWe all want to be productive and creative, but it isn’t always easy. One big reason is that if we are working in a company which doesn't complement our personality, unless we can work out an accommodation, we become frustrated and discouraged -- a square peg in a round hole.

If we're a judging type person (dedicated to making decisions based on our values or logic), we like to get things settled, even if the results are a little sketchy. If we're working in a perceptive company (which likes to look at all the options before it leaps, taking in more information in a practical or imaginative way), we'll likely have a problem. The shape of the problem is that there's nothing wrong with the company, but it gets on our nerves because we'll likely be continually frustrated by the lack of decisiveness and firmness in the system.

Feeling vs. Thinking: The Head and Heart in Organizations

My picture nameMark and Tom both work in the same company. Mark stops and talks to everyone. People tell him things and he doesn’t know why. People find him friendly, willing to listen to their troubles and encouraging. Tom is quite different. He stays focused on his work, tends not to get involved in people's troubles, but tends to have a cleared desk by the end of the day. Tom thinks that a lot of Mark’s socializing is a waste of time, but he is sometimes envious that Mark knows and is liked by everyone. Mark thinks that Tom is too serious, but secretly is envious of his effectiveness and clear thinking. Each one thinks that he brings a lot of gifts to the company and has great hopes of great personal success.

However, who will be most effective in their job largely depends not so much on their own personality type, but on the personality type of the company. Is the company more thinking (logical) or feeling (values) oriented? This is a common problem for many people.

Sensing vs Intuition in Organisations

My picture name
Alice and Harry go to see a counselor for help. Alice says that she is fed up with Harry’s unrealistic approach to life. "Why just the other day," she said, "I was looking after the bills and I said 'we have only $10 in the bank!' Do you know what he said? He just leaned back in his chair and said, 'Wouldn’t it be lovely to go to Bermuda for a vacation?' How could he say that? I said, 'Don’t be stupid! I just said we have only $10 in the bank!'"

Harry jumps in: "I didn’t mean that we should try to go there now. I just meant what I said -- wouldn’t it be lovely to go there for a vacation?"

"But why say such a stupid thing?" Alice responds.

"I was daydreaming, that's all."

"That is what he does all the time," said Alice. "He spends all his time in the clouds. I don’t understand how he can be so unrealistic." This is an example of sensing and intuition at war, differences which sometimes lead to divorce. And, strangely enough, the same issues arise in business, with most of the same symptoms and types of consequences.

Extroverted Companies vs. Introverted Companies

Donald Trump vs Bill GatesMy mother was a very pleasant, bright, deeply introverted lady who was very faithful in her church attendance and in her support of its groups. Because of her regular participation, she was asked to be a member of the welcoming committee for our large church. Like all her jobs, she took it quite seriously. Without fail, she approached unfamiliar faces, asked them if they were new to the church, and made a point of welcoming them to the fellowship.

She came home chuckling one day because of an encounter with a stranger. She told us that, as usual, she had introduced herself to a woman and asked her if she was new to the church. "Actually, I'm not new," the woman replied. "I have been coming here for twenty-three years."

People in business often make the same mistake. A deeply introverted person may be put in charge of reaching out to the customer base, doing the relationship marketing, and it just doesn’t work. There is quite a difference between the way that extroverts and introverts function in business.

Getting Along: Judging vs Perceiving

My picture nameI once heard of a head of a major corporation who used to say proudly to his associates, "I may have my faults, but I am able to make decisions." Apparently that was something of which he was quite proud. To him, it seemed to mean that unlike others who would dither between two choices, he was "the man". He could settle any confusion with a firm decision. The problem, according to reports I heard, is that he often made preemptive decisions which were not necessary, and which only made things worse.

He was proud of his ability to decide, but wasn't aware that this came naturally because of his personality type, rather than being a virtue that made him better than other people. Such people in business, as well as at home, can appear arbitrary and unrealistically confident.