A fascinating experiment recently concluded in Hawaii. Six individuals spent an entire year in a 1200 sq. ft. dome that simulated life on Mars.
The Hardest Part About Living on Mars
The reporter asked the Mars project team lead, Christiane Heinicke, "What was the most difficult part of your time spent on Mars?" Her answer was shocking. Not the dehydrated food, not the lack of entertainment, not even the inability to go outside without wearing a space suit. The most difficult part, according to her, was dealing with the personalities of the other five people.
Personality is tricky business. By definition we need people who act and think differently from us. And yet, it is these very people who can be the most challenging aspect of any work experience.
It is no wonder that companies invest so much time and resources into interpersonal relations – helping people and teams work together more effectively. While a personality assessment such as The Birkman Method® cannot rid the world of difficult personalities, it can give insight into differing styles and approaches. This shift can have a powerful impact.
Instead of perceiving a difficult personality as a nuisance, we are able to process and appreciate how a different style complements our own.
An Example of Personality Conflict
Rob is a creative guy who loves to generate ideas. His favorite discussions are with people who get excited about new ideas and opportunities. Sarah is more cautious. She likes new ideas, but she won’t get on board until the idea has been completely thought through and vetted.
Rob views Sarah as uninspired and negative. Sarah views Rob as an impractical dreamer. The catch? Rob needs Sarah’s approach to help him consider the feasibility of ideas. Sarah needs Rob’s new ideas and innovative thinking.
A personality assessment can help Rob and Sarah shift their perception and approach. Both Rob and Sarah are more effective with the other person’s differing perspective. Rob commits to continuing to share his new ideas with Sarah, and Sarah takes the time to process the ideas and respond more enthusiastically. The relationship transforms, and they now enjoy working together because they appreciate the perspective the other person brings to the workplace.
No matter who you are, you only bring one perspective to the table – your own. This means by definition we are all walking around with a huge blind-spot in understanding how other people see the world.
Our success and the success of those around us depends on our ability to understand our own strengths, while at the same time understanding where those same strengths create potential blind spots. When we are able to move from a place of frustration to appreciation, we are able to tap into the power of diverse personalities and perspectives.