Colors of personality

Apart from Computer Science I also graduated in management at the University of Economics. During my eye-opening tenure there I attended quite a lot of  fancy named ‘psychology’ and ‘human resources’ courses. Quite a lot of them had different kinds of tests and models in the curriculum – in effect I learned over 30 ways to categorize people into different boxes.

Most of those I instantly rejected as not useful (I’m not gonna quiz you with 100 questions before I even speak to you so I can know your mental model!). Others seemed to either categorize people in a very blurry way or when they seemed ok they didn’t give any clear benefit. When something came close to useful it was usually intended for use with factory workers. Overall – psychology tests in IT teams – I wasn’t a fan at all!

Then, a couple of years back, when in Switzerland I had an opportunity to listen to a German profiler who works with special forces. My very naïve explanation of a profiler is a person who builds a mental model of someone to understand and predict their actions. And the model she presented was so straightforward and convincing it immediately had me thinking – about myself, about my colleagues, about my ex-classmates.. and it finally seemed useful!

After a year or so of mulling this over I crafted a speed talk I presented on one of my Agile trainings in Krakow with a group of 30 people. The feedback I got was quite encouraging and it made me evolve the talk a bit more.

The model assumes people can have 4 different colours. And you usually don’t need a test to say which colour you deal with at the moment, you are fine just by observing body language and signs in the way of talking or writing. While some people will be end of spectrum of one colour, some will be a mix of two, three or even four. Sometimes it is impossible to say, but hey, no one says this model is perfect. It’s just the best (or the only good enough) of those I learnt.

Here we go.

Blue – let’s do it right

Picture1

 

A very detail-oriented, analytical, and ordered person. When they enter the room they will cautiously check out every possible place and then choose where to sit. Buying a new phone will take them at least 2 weeks of careful research, reviews reading and price checking and even then they will feel they might have made a mistake. Their email will list all the questions from most important to least important and they will feel offended if you miss responding to question number 16. There is no one better than a blue person to check if things work correctly in our system and their financial reports will always be top-notch. When you approach always say where the catch is, because if you don’t, they will find out anyway.

Tendencies:

  1. Orderliness
  2. Disciplined
  3. Precise
  4. Thorough
  5. Analytical

Ideal situations:

  1. Being able to concentrate on detail
  2. Opportunities to critique
  3. Stable surroundings and procedures
  4. Exact job description, expectations
  5. Opportunities for “careful” planning
  6. Sufficient time to do things right
  7. Opportunities for reassurance from authority

Weaknesses:

  1. Indecisive (looking at all data)
  2. Get bogged down in details
  3. Avoids controversy
  4. Low self esteem
  5. Hesitant to try new things
  6. Sensitive to criticism
  7. Can be pessimistic

Needs others to provide

  1. Quick decision making
  2. Optimism
  3. Help in persuading others

Personal growth area

  1. Be more open with their feelings
  2. Be more optimistic

So, to sum up Blue people

Car of choice?
Hybrid vehicle (very efficient)

If they were to build a treehouse
Would pull out the directions, carefully count and arrange the parts, then systemically build the house

How to sell them an expensive shirt?
Tell them it has the best value to cost ratio of all shirts in the city (and make sure it’s true because they will check)

 

Yellow – let’s do it together

Picture2

 

You love to party with yellow people. They will make it easy for you and your team to feel good and entertained. Before any business is made they will know everything about the health of your family and you will know everything about last barbecue they went to. When they send you an email requesting an excel file it will first describe a story that happened at the water cooler, then a question about your well-being, and then in closing remarks they will by the way mention the file they need. Well-spoken and smiley, pleasure to work with until you find out 2 hours of this meeting passed and no actual work has been done.

Tendencies:

  1. Optimism
  2. Enthusiasm
  3. Makes good impressions
  4. Verbally articulate
  5. Likes to help others
  6. Creates entertaining climate

Ideal situation:

  1. Friendly warm environment
  2. Freedom from control
  3. Public recognition of ability
  4. Opportunity to talk
  5. Positive reinforcement
  6. Enthusiastic response to ideas

Weaknesses

  1. Following through
  2. Overestimating results
  3. Misjudging capabilities
  4. Talks too much
  5. Acts impulsively
  6. Jumps to conclusions
  7. Over commits
  8. Acts first, thinks second

Needs others to provide

  1. Follow through on details
  2. Focus on tasks
  3. Logical approach

Personal growth area

  1. Time awareness
  2. Objectivity in decision making

So, to sum up Yellow people

Car of choice?
One that’s big enough to hold their friends

If they were to build a treehouse
Would invite their friends over to build and grill together

How to sell them an expensive shirt?
Tell them their friends will love it (after you ask enough small talk questions)

 

RED – let’s do it now

Picture3

Red person is a goal oriented, persistent bulldozer. Wants to achieve and conquer, but sometimes misses the details and jumps the wrong train. They will make your meetings shorter by impatiently stamping their feet when someone gets too off topic, but they will also easily offend any Blues by responding to their 20 questions with a one-liner. Risk-takers, usually quickly recognized for their ability to show results. They will often look for new challenges themselves, which in absence of any may end up with an (un)expected resignation.

Tendencies:

  1. Getting immediate results
  2. Making quick decisions
  3. Persistence
  4. Solving problems
  5. Taking charge
  6. Looking self reliant
  7. Accepting challenges

Ideal situation:

  1. New varied activities
  2. Opportunity to really get things done
  3. Continual challenges, multi-tasker
  4. Difficult assignments
  5. Freedom to act from their instinct
  6. Control over the situations
  7. Direct answers from others, no innuendoes

Weaknesses

  1. Insensitivity towards others
  2. Impatient
  3. Overlook risks
  4. Inflexibility, demanding of others
  5. Talks too much
  6. Inattentive to details at times
  7. Resenting of restrictions

Needs others to provide

  1. Attention to routine tasks
  2. Caution
  3. Focus on details and facts

Personal growth area

  1. Greater patience
  2. Sensitivity to others’ needs
  3. Flexibility

So, to sum up Red people

Car of choice?
Something flashy and expensive

If they were to build a treehouse
Would pay somebody to do it for them

How to sell them an expensive shirt?
Tell them no one has ever bought it before

Green – let’s do it harmoniously 

Picture4

 

Green person will always strive for team agreement before making a move. They will be team builders who promote and guard healthy relations and consensus. They will easily help each other sell their ideas and they will have plenty of their own. They will be first to console if something goes wrong, and they will make sure everyone got their deserved part of recognition for success. Conflict makes them extremely uncomfortable while relaxed, patient attitude may sometimes prevent them from taking the right chances when they appear.

Tendencies:

  1. Supportive
  2. Agreeable
  3. Loyal
  4. Self control
  5. Consistent
  6. Good listener
  7. Creative

Ideal situation:

  1. Sincere appreciation by others
  2. Minimal conflict between people
  3. Security
  4. Acknowledgement of work by others
  5. Limited territory
  6. Traditional procedures
  7. Opportunity to develop personal relationships

Weaknesses

  1. Resist change
  2. Trouble making deadlines
  3. Overly lenient with people
  4. Procrastinates
  5. Indecisive
  6. Overly possessive
  7. Lacks initiative

Needs others to provide

  1. Push to try new challenges
  2. Help in solving difficult problems
  3. Initiative and accepting change

Personal growth area

  1. Facing confrontation and dealing with it
  2. Moving at a faster pace and initiating

So, to sum up Green people

Car of choice?
Jeep for off-road adventures (with stargazing)

If they were to build a treehouse
Would design their own

How to sell them an expensive shirt?
Tell them no animal was hurt during production of the shirt and the factory workers earner fair wages

 

CMioj_BWoAAXu9Z

Did you think about someone when you read the colour descriptions? I’m sure you did. We all have friends and colleagues who are end-of-the-spectrum in some categories. Some will be harder to categorize but we will see some colour behaviours in them from time to time.

At the end of my speed talk I usually ask participants to form 4 groups, one for each colour and I ask them to answer three questions as a group.

  1. What motivates me
  2. What is my ideal job
  3. What characterizes my ideal direct manager

What’s most interesting is not the answers they provide but behaviour observed in the groups. The reds are the first group to finish in 90% of the cases. They usually have 3-5 single words answering each question. The blues never finish before the given time, even though they have neatly organized 5-10 full sentence answers to each question. The greens usually discuss everything among themselves before putting it on a board. And the yellows will sometimes talk about random stuff before asking ‘what was the 2nd question again?’ a minute before end time.

Months after learning this simple catalogue of four types I tend to use it quite often to understand the first impression and prep myself for the discussion. I also work hard on my colour’s ‘Personal growth area’ and I think I’m succeeding in it, step by step. However I have also learned that the better I know my team or a person the less I need the model for them. People are not as simple and you want to know their unique character in depth rather than saying which artificial box they belong to. It would be unfair to see them through a prism of stereotypes of this article.

That said – please don’t send me too long emails – I’m red, I’ll find it hard to read them to the end!

 

piotr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *