The Personality Map is so powerful because it can quickly help us visualize the relationship between two people and where conflict might arise.
In many ways, the quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life. For those of us who work in roles where we collaborate, communicate, and engage with other people, our relationships often drive (or hinder) our long-term career success.
In any role, each person you interact with has a unique blend of personality traits, values, desires, and life experiences.
These differences create natural conflict, but if they are harnessed, they can lead two people to become a powerful, cohesive unit worth far more than the sum of each person’s individual skill set.
To provide an example of this, I need not look any further than my own desk. Greg (President & COO of Crystal) and I spend most of our days working together at the same table. We can go from high level strategy to the trenches in an instant, and after years of working together, we operate like a machine.
It wasn’t always this way. Greg and I have vast personality differences. He’s an intense, process-oriented executor who craves efficiency and never allows any details to slip through the cracks. I, on the other hand, am an outgoing, people-oriented adventurer who’s open to new ideas and has a high tolerance for mistakes in the name of innovation. You can probably imagine how that may conflict.
Our typical dynamic is one where I come up with some big, new, shiny idea, share it with Greg, and await his inevitable critique. o “He pokes holes with directness and precision and since we have such strong trust, he does not hesitate to inform me when my idea is simply bad. In the past, this would hurt my feelings, as I considered my ideas like children, all uniquely beautiful and precious. But over time, I realized that Greg had the ability to spot flaws that my natural optimism would cause me to miss. I realized that he had a superpower that I was born without, and it covered my blind spot perfectly.
It works in the other direction as well. Sometimes Greg’s compulsive attention to detail and desire for efficiency leads him down rabbit holes that are simply not worth his time. At times, he may disregard an unproven idea because it lacks enough data to back it up. But sometimes you need to act on limited information and make a bold decision - this is where my openness and risk tolerance can benefit Greg, as I can provide the encouragement and comfort to take a step into the unknown.
This conflict is part of our everyday reality, even when we are ordering lunch. Greg usually gives the waiter a precise list of custom instructions for how to prepare his salmon and side salad, while I frequently pick something new off the menu without thinking too much about it. The differences between us are almost comical, yet we are able to work very effectively as an executive team.
When I discovered that people as different as Greg and I can work well together, I became confident that I could work well with any personality type, as long as I took the time to learn how. To understand our differences, you’ll need to understand a bit more about personality.
Historically, the only way you would be able to fully understand someone’s personality is by either getting to know them really well, which takes lots of time and emotional intelligence, or having them take a personality test. Both of these approaches require that you have an established relationship with the person, which doesn’t tend to work in the world of outreach communication, since we are often trying to connect with new people who we have never spoken with before.
Thankfully, there is a new technology that unlocks another way to learn about someone’s personality without an assessment - Personality AI. We wrote about this in detail in another ebook titled, Personality AI (which you can download for free). This new technology analyzes publicly available information on websites like LinkedIn to predict someone’s personality, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. We built our product, Crystal, to harness Personality AI and enable anyone to identify personalities online to improve their communication and build stronger relationships, all based on the core principle of empathy.
Without getting too technical, when Crystal’s AI predicts personality, it uses a framework called DISC to classify personalities into a few categories that we refer to as D (dominance), I (influence), S (steadiness), and C (conscientiousness). Each of us has a primary DISC type in one of these categories and sometimes a secondary DISC type in another. To keep things simple, we separate these into easy-to-remember labels called Archetypes.
You can see them all on this graphic called the Personality Map:
Below is a breakdown of common personality traits within each of the categories in DISC.
D Personality Types: Captains, Drivers, Initiators, Architects
I Personality Types: Influencer, Motivator, Encourager, Harmonizer
S Personality Types: Counselor, Supporter, Planner, Stabilizer
C Personality Types: Editor, Analyst, Skeptic, Questioner
These differences are extremely important to understand when approaching a conversation with anyone. For example, someone who is a warm, people-oriented Supporter (S) is less likely to engage in a discussion about facts and data. They’d usually prefer to engage in a more personal, get-to-know-you conversation. An Analyst (C), on the other hand, tends to enjoy learning more about specific, concrete information. By identifying someone’s personality type, we can learn how to best communicate with them.
So far, we’ve talked about the individual aspects of personality. However, since this ebook is focused on the dynamics of relationships, we should expand DISC to help us understand groups of people and the relationships between them. To do that, we’ll use a tool called the Personality Map.
When discussing personality types, we often mention the Personality Map. This refers to the graphic we use to describe your DISC type. You may be a Harmonizer (IS), whose position on the Personality Map is in the middle right, or you might be a Captain (D), whose position is toward the top left.
The Personality Map is so powerful because it can quickly help us visualize the relationship between two people and where conflict might arise. There are two dimensions of the map that explain this: vertical distance and horizontal distance.
Collaboration - vertical distance
One dimension to understand on the Personality Map is collaboration, referring to how well people are likely to work together effectively. This is generally measured by the vertical distance between their positions on the map.
The more vertical distance two people have between their positions on the Personality Map, the easier it is for them to collaborate. Those in the upper half of the map will likely desire more control or dominance, while those in the lower half will tend to prefer adapting to the leadership of others. If two people are both seeking more dominant roles, it will likely be more difficult for them to effectively collaborate.
Interaction - horizontal distance
The other dimension we refer to is interaction, which refers to how easy it is for two people to communicate well and establish trust. This can be measured by the horizontal distance between the positions on the map.
People that are close together horizontally will be able to interact more easily. Those on the left side of the Personality Map tend to take more time to warm up to others and are often perceived as distant or skeptical, while those on the right side of the map tend to be warm, open, and more immediately trusting. When two people are close together horizontally they’ll be operating similarly.
Both vertical and horizontal difference matter in regard to a group’s ability to work well together with minimal effort. But how often is that the case? No matter where you are in comparison to your coworkers, it takes intentionality and care to make an effective team.
Have you noticed that some people seem to get along effortlessly? With some relationships, people may always appear to be on the same page and seem to gain energy from being around one another. Most likely, their ability to naturally collaborate is due either to similar or complementary personality traits. In the DISC model, this may mean that they have a greater vertical distance and a smaller horizontal distance on the Personality Map. D & C’s natural position on the left side of the map and S & I’s on the right tend to make them natural pairs.
The following section will outline a couple of examples of relationships with naturally-complementary personalities. Though it may seem to others like they get along effortlessly, they are still susceptible to misunderstanding and miscommunication without a base level of empathy.
Use Crystal’s free Personality Assessment to learn more about your personality type. Access the free personality assessment at crystalknows.com/personality-test
The Direct, Efficient Duo: D-types and C-types
D-types are generally dominant, logical personalities who enjoy leading other people to success by working in a focused, productive way. C-types tend to be reserved, analytical people who prefer remaining completely objective when making decisions and following rules, processes, and structures. Though both are logical, direct, efficient, and productive, D-types can help C-types by taking control of projects as needed, while C-types can help D-types think through decisions completely and find the most effective way to complete a task.
Example: Greg, Architect (Dc), and Jonathan, Editor (Cs)
Greg and Jonathan are both software engineers who work together. Greg, an Architect (Dc), tends to be more assertive and outspoken, while Jonathan, an Editor (Cs), is more thoughtful and considerate.
Issues they may encounter:
In brainstorming sessions, Jonathan may get frustrated when Greg sometimes dominates the conversation or overpowers Jonathan’s suggested solutions. However, Greg is generally unaware of this problem, as Jonathan tends to be quieter in conversations, often neglecting to actively advocate for his own ideas.
Greg should try to be more intentionally patient with Jonathan by taking the time to hear him out, giving him space to think or reflect, and trusting that his ideas will be worthwhile. Jonathan, however, should be as open and direct as possible with Greg. If he isn’t feeling heard, he needs to speak up.
The People-loving Partnership: I-types and S-types
I-types tend to be enthusiastic, open-minded people who enjoy meeting new people and avoiding strict schedules or rules. S-types are usually more reserved, calm, patient personalities with a passion for building deeper connections with others and methodically working through problems. Though both tend to be generally warm, supportive people who like to build relationships with others, I-types tend to push S-types to be more relaxed and open-minded, while S-types act as a grounding, practical force for I-types.
Example: Sam, Encourager (Is), and Amanda, Planner (Sc)
Sam and Amanda have recently started dating. Sam, an Encourager (Is), tends to be creative and think up new ideas, while Amanda, a Planner (Sc), usually prefers to follow set practices and focus on logistics.
Issues they may encounter:
Sam likes to go to big events with a lot of new people and may feel held-back or limited by Amanda, who doesn’t tend to like crowds.
Amanda tends to want to stick with date ideas that have been working for them and may feel overwhelmed or overstimulated by Sam’s frequent suggestions of new places.
Amanda should try to be more open-minded by choosing, sometimes, to appreciate and participate in large events or new date ideas. However, Sam should avoid pushing Amanda too much, allowing plenty of opportunity for smaller groups and routine date nights.
Just as there are types that are likely to connect more easily, there are a few combinations that may have more issues at the start, but can learn to work through their differences to establish good, balanced and healthy relationships. Here are a few examples of pairings who can build strong relationships if they work together and adapt to their differences.
If you’re unsure of the personality type of someone else, you can use the Crystal Chrome Extension to predict their personality, or, if you know them well, invite them to take a free personality test on Crystal.
The Disruptor and Peacemaker: D-types and S-types
D-types are usually very assertive, extroverted personalities who enjoy being the leader and using logic to make decisions. S-types tend to be more subdued, caring people who enjoy getting to know others and tend to be more emotionally-attached to decisions. D-types can help S-types be more open and honest, while S-types can help D-types consider how their decisions affect others.
Example: Nora, Captain (D), and Logan, Supporter (S)
Nora and Logan are childhood best friends. Nora, a Captain (D), tends to be more dominant, efficient, and outspoken, while Logan, a Supporter (S), tends to be encouraging and empathetic, keeping opinions to himself.
Issues they may encounter:
Logan sometimes feels shutdown or hurt by Nora’s blunt, assertive tone. In order to avoid encountering more harsh words, Logan doesn’t always share how he feels with Nora. Nora may feel confused and hurt if Logan won’t directly communicate the reason why he’s upset. She may also be frustrated if he doesn’t make an effort to stand up for himself.
Nora should make an effort to check-in with Logan and ask specific questions about his feelings and ideas, while Logan needs to muster the courage to share what he’s truly feeling or thinking.
The Owl and the Butterfly: C-types and I-types
C-types tend to be logical, reserved people who enjoy following set routines, rules, and processes and tend to detach emotion from their practical decision-making. I-types are generally outgoing, lively people who like to follow a more flexible schedule and tend to let their creative ideas and emotions drive them. C-types can help I-types think through their ideas to find more realistic solutions, while I-types can help C-types open their minds to new experiences.
Example: Mark, Anaylst (C), and Kate, Motivator (I)
Mark and Kate have a very close father-daughter bond. Mark, an Analyst (C), tends to be reserved, practical, and logical, while Kate, a Motivator (I), is usually outgoing, idealistic, and creative.
Issues they may encounter:
Mark may feel uncomfortable if pushed by Kate to try too many new things too fast. He may also feel overwhelmed if he isn’t given enough space to think and work privately. Kate may feel hurt or discouraged if her personal choices are criticized or scrutinized by Mark. Kate may also feel disconnected from Mark if he doesn’t make an effort to spend time with her.
Mark should try to avoid being overly critical of Kate’s actions by communicating any problems in a kind, gentle way. Mark should also intentionally set aside time to spend with Kate. Kate should try to recognize when to stop pushing Mark outside of his comfort zone and give him space to recoup.
The Pusher and the Puller: D-types and I-types
D-types tend to be dominant and direct people, who choose to outwardly express their opinions, no matter the issue. I-types are generally more idealistic, warm personalities, who seek attachment and like to keep others happy. Though both are relatively outgoing, fast-paced, and tend to desire control of the situation, D-types can help I-types make practical decisions and share their thoughts more openly. I-types can help D-types think outside the box and consider how their words affect others.
Example: Jamie, Driver (Di), and Liz, Encourager (Is)
Jamie and Liz are roommates in San Francisco. Jamie, a Driver (Di), tends to be assertive and blunt, while Liz, an Encourager (Is), is naturally warm, emotionally-connected, and creative.
Issues they may encounter:
Jamie may become frustrated if Liz forgets to follow the cleaning assignments or takes too long to get ready before they go out to dinner.
Jamie should offer gentle reminders to Liz before becoming upset. She should try to address problems in a calm, sensitive way. Liz should make an effort to follow positive suggestions, like the cleaning assignments. She also needs to learn to communicate her own perspective in a straight-forward, concise way around Jamie, in order to be heard and understood.
The Thinker and the Feeler: C-types and S-types
C-types tend to be analytical, focused people who enjoy working with specific data and solving complex problems. S-types tend to be people-oriented, inviting personalities who like to emotionally invest in relationships with other people. Though both are somewhat reserved, dislike being in control of a situation, and like to and follow some sort of schedule, C-types can help S-types learn to hold firm to their beliefs, while S-types can help C-types connect with other people.
Example: Anne, Skeptic (Cd), and David, Counselor (Si)
Anne and David are coworkers at a small pharmaceuticals company. Anne, a Skeptic (Cd), tends to be analytical, autonomous, and focused on efficiency, while David, a Counselor (Si), is empathetic, welcoming, and focused on building relationships.
Issues they may encounter:
Anne might feel overwhelmed by David’s emotional expressions in a finance meeting. She may also find herself frustrated by his need to discuss personal information at work. David may feel rejected by Anne if she doesn’t make an effort to connect with him. He might also feel shutdown if she fails to listen to his perspective just because he is emotionally invested.
Anne should set aside time to get to know David and make an effort to address him in a more gentle, encouraging way. She should also pay attention to and consider his unique perspective.David needs to give Anne plenty of space to work and communicate his perspective in a more logical, direct manner.
Every relationship will have its problems - many of which can be resolved with the right understanding of one another. Personality can play an important role in which relationships come most naturally to you.
While it’s great to easily maintain a positive relationship with someone, there’s a lot to be learned from the relationships that don’t come as easily.
By making an effort to understand how to work with and appreciate people’s differences, through tools like Personality AI, you’re likely to find that creating and maintaining positive, healthy relationships does not have to be draining.
In fact, it can be exciting and enjoyable to cherish the balancing forces of relationships.