Work dynamics – coping with opposite personality types: a primitive reflex perspective

I had an 18-year long career in the corporate world, working within the fields of journalism, tour operations, information systems and information security.

What made me go freelance was my very last permanent role, for a global pharmaceuticals company. I worked in IT security, and was jointly responsible for protecting the EMEA region from security vulnerabilities, such as hacking and viruses. I was responsible for the technical side of things, and yet spotted that PROCESS and PEOPLE were the key, given the speed at which security vulnerabilities were being exploited.

About a month into my role, I went to see the EMEA IT director to explain that process was key to the company’s security. I immediately received a pay rise and was put on a fast track to senior management. However, this brought my salary almost up to the level of my line manager at a time when pay had been frozen except for in exceptional circumstances!

My line manager then used my own vulnerability – slower than average processing speed and a need to take time to think problems through – to attack me in meetings in front of an audience, requesting that I came up with complex data solutions in a split second. He ensured that I was put on a “performance improvement programme”, to which my knee-jerk response was to resign.

At my exit interview, I made sure to mention the fact that I was bullied, and that this was a case of constructive dismissal, but the guy continued to carry on like this whenever a threat came along, and the pattern has repeated itself at least a couple more times since. I have no idea whether he still works for the organisation – probably.

I then enjoyed ten blissful years of contracting, earning twice as much and working wherever and whenever I wanted, pretty much. I NEVER felt bullied in the workplace again – if I even came close to it, I would give notice and head off to another contract – and because I was in demand in my field, it was never a challenge to find work.

However, let’s look at what happened to me as a “victim” of bullying more closely, and from a primitive reflex point of view, because this is key to understanding the victim/bully dynamic in the workplace.

I always had a tendency to barge into the workplace full of ideas and fresh perspective. That is why people used to hire me, after all. I have a creative and yet sensitive personality. I clash hideously with those who have a rigid outlook and a sensitive personality – or indeed a rigid outlook and an aggressive personality!

My line manager had (has?) a very rigid outlook. He was data-obsessed and highly technical. He could not think outside the box at all. He was more than likely highly left-brain dominant He was my absolute nemesis. I am a right-brained, creative, outside-the-box thinker. I hate to work to plans – I tend to wing it towards achieving an objective – but with a very broad idea of a plan rather than a plan with rigid timeframes. This way of working utterly infuriated my line manager, and yet entranced our director, probably because of my completely unique way of looking at things, as well as my rather useful language skills, which were used to the utmost to charm various IT managers across the EMEA region into buying into new processes.

Before I left the company, I went on a rather good training course on working with opposing personalities. We were introduced to the “colour” personality types, which tie in with Myers-Briggs types. I was not surprised to see that I fit firmly into the yellow category, but have splodges of red and a little bit of green – but absolutely no blue whatsoever… so I’d make a terrible computer programmer or tester!

Where do these personality types fit with reflexes?

Well, my very blue former line manager had sweaty palms and very odd eye contact and a need to be in full control. His Fear Paralysis reflex was more than likely off the scale. His bullying outbursts in meetings were Moro, and his inability to trust or connect with others more than likely to do with a strong Babkin reflex.

Interestingly, my reflex profile as a predominantly yellow person is not that dissimilar to my former line manager. However, I am predominantly right-brained in the workplace, and therefore used to find the constraints of being left-brained rather limiting.

I’m now far more relaxed about different personality types, having worked a lot on my own FPR, Babkin and Moro reflexes.

The reason why I wrote this article is that I feel that yellow and red personality types are far better suited to running their own very unique businesses, while green and blue may be better at either staying within the confines of a permanent role and working their way up the ranks, or contracting – but working for others.

Those who are very red or very blue may find reflex integration very beneficial in order to work in the most optimal way with yellow and green personality types.

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