Understanding Personal Styles

Balancing Inter-Personal Skills With Professional Skills

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Success in business is as much based upon using inter-personal skills effectively as it is based upon using professional skills. Personal characteristics are specific to each individual, and include preferences regarding the self and relationships with others. Professional characteristics apply to occupation and public life in terms of role, qualifications, competence, and experience.

Inter-personal characteristics include oral and written communications abilities, and the extent to which an individual is a team player. Individual contributors usually have less developed inter-personal skills than experienced entrepreneurs, leaders, and managers who are able to get things done through others.

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A personal style is a set of personality characteristics. Every individual has a personal style profile - specific personality characteristics that determine their preferences.

Definitions of personal styles have been used throughout history by philosophers; modern definitions trace their roots to research work by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. Although there are many themes and variations, basically four personal styles exist:

Challengers - who appreciate action and adventure, and are full of energy and excitement
Causals - who appreciate creativity and relationships, and value peace and harmony
Stabilizers - who appreciate law and order, and prefer safety and security
Visionaries - who appreciate innovation and understanding, are full of ideas, and value analysis

By understanding how to quickly identify certain key attributes of each personal style, and to recognize them in other people, an individual can quickly relate, build a rapport, and interact with others. Hence, an individual is more likely to appear friendly and be able to influence others. "Relate" means that an individual has similar preferences to another; "rapport" means that an individual can build a relationship with another; and "interact" means that two or more individuals can do things together.

Whereas there are more scientific approaches, two ways exist to quickly identify the personal styles of others. The first is to listen to the words that others use; the second is to observe how they dress. Words and dress are key indicators of values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors:

Challenges use words that suggest the notions of competition, risk taking, and incentives - they tend to dress casually
Causals use words that suggest the notions of acceptance, friendship, ideals, and sharing - they tend to dress fashionably
Stabilizers use words that suggest the notions of budgets, loyalty, responsibility, and duty - they tend to dress formally
Visionaries use words that suggest the notions of competence, research, explanations, and solutions -they tend to dress functionally

If an individual can adapt their personal style to another's without losing their own, they can increase the likelihood of success in entertaining, informing, convincing, persuading, and negotiating to close transactions for mutual benefit.


Understanding personal styles is the key to balancing inter-personal skills with professional skills.

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