Ask just about anyone if, after taking a personality test, they would score radically different than their spouse or significant other and the answer will overwhelmingly be “yes!”. As the cliché goes, opposites attract.
However, when I ask DISC training participants if they are as attracted to their opposites at work as much as they in their personal lives the answer is inevitably: Not a chance.
What accounts for this difference in approach? Why are we attracted to our opposite in our personal relationships but wary of our opposite in professional relationships?
Here’s one answer: Opposites attract when you’re in a good mood. When you are in a happy place, opposites are fascinating. We appreciate differences when they add richness and diversity to our lives. During the dating and infatuation phase of a personal relationship we revel in differences: “He likes chocolate, I like vanilla. We complete each other!”
But eventually the slayer of “all that is opposite is good” appears, either gradually or in a flash. Now we are repelled by our opposite for one simple reason: STRESS. When we’re under duress opposites no longer attract, they attack. In personal relationships it’s only a matter of time before stress challenges the strength of a couple’s commitment to each other. Each DISC style has a very different way of dealing and expressing their stress. And because the early-relationship infatuation phase is so strong, the first fight or stress-event often comes as a shock to both sides.
At the office, by contrast, we anticipate that there will be stress. We know that there will be pressure to perform, to put in extra time, to work on difficult projects with people we would otherwise not choose to spend so much time with. The DISC system reveals many reasons why working closely with someone of the opposite style can be very challenging. For example, she focuses on perfecting systems while you want to plow ahead before an opportunity is lost. Trouble ensues.
So, the next time you feel the pull of opposites attract, think about how that person’s DISC profile will affect both of you when stress appears. This will give you time to prepare and handle difficult situations with skill and care.
Daniel Silvert, is a sought-after facilitator, executive coach, and speaker. As the VP of Learning & Development for Team Builders Plus, Daniel designs and leads training programs at every level on teamwork, accountability, and transformational change. Daniel is the co-author of Taking Flight!: Master the Four Behavioral Styles and Transform Your Career, Your Relationships…Your Life.
Tue, April 17, 2012
by Daniel Silvert filed under