My husband gifted me this mug for Christmas which brazenly states People Person. The cup made me think about my joy in seeing this phrase nowadays. I am a people person. I am proud to see it, and I embrace that part of me now, but this is a new thing for me.
When I entered the corporate world more than 25 years ago, I learned being a people person was not viewed well. I hated the words other professionals used to describe me, like:
- “She’s so bubbly, a real people person!”
- “What a social butterfly.”
- ” Mary is always jovial.”
- “She’s so nice. Always smiling.”
I did not want those words attached to me. To me, the connotation was a people person was friendly, but of little substance. It drew a picture in my mind of someone who is fun but not competent with business issues. Someone who is not a good candidate for leadership.
So, I tried to change myself and others’ perception of me as much as possible by being very serious and using phrases like “I think” rather than “I feel.” During conversations, I would steer the subject toward factual information rather than listening to what my gut had to say. I even came very close to showing up as a Thinker in the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator for a nanosecond. People would say to me, “you must be a Feeler in Meyers Briggs,” and I would respond, “Yes, but my Thinker/Feeler score is actually very close.”
What changed? Why do I embrace my Feeler/People Person label now?
When I work with clients, I see many of them dealing with similar struggles. In a recent training, a participant indicated they came up as a certain “type”, but they did not believe it fit their true personality. Some clients tell me directly they do not want to be a certain type. I noticed that each type of person, from thinker to doer to ideator to feeler, wants to be seen differently.
I decided to follow my own advice; the advice I give to clients.
Steps to Embracing Who You Are:
- First, realize that no matter how you show up on an assessment, you decide who you are and who you want to be.
- Next, think about how you act and react in a variety of situations. Each person is a little bit of every type. There are times when the label is spot on and times when you behave differently. Make note of those times. Write it in your journal if you have one.
- Now, recognize that each type of person brings value to the table. Spend some time thinking about what you bring. Write it down.
- Then, beyond assessments and type, there is the unique value that each individual brings to a situation. Consider yours.
- Finally, embrace who you are. What are some ways you can incorporate your unique value into your work and your life?
For me, the change came through all of these steps, paying attention to the behaviors of other leaders, and listening to my clients resolve their struggles. I changed my own thinking about my type. Being a people person is a critical leadership skill. Empathy, openness to new ideas, and understanding cultural differences are all strengths of good leaders. The result? I am proud to be a people person.
What about you? How do you use your strengths and talents at work?
For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org