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Sometimes the strategies we use in dating apply directly to our business relationships—other times, not so much. In personal relationships, it makes sense to seek people with similar interests. In business, how you feel about someone is irrelevant… because it’s not about you.

Its me

Consider this dating trope: “He/She is not my type.”  It’s shorthand for, “I really don’t want to invest any more time in getting to know this person.” You can get away with that in your personal life – but in business, it’s not an option. Few of us get to choose our colleagues or our clients, but it’s our job to collaborate with them. The sooner we realize that it’s not about “me,” and focus on what “we” can accomplish, the better. In fact, successful leaders actually seek out people who complement their own weaknesses.

This is where behavioral science can come to the rescue. Most of us have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Predictive Index, or a similar personality test. It may be tempting to dismiss these indicators as mere psychobabble. But I’ve since seen the value of these useful tools. By helping us understand and identify the many variations in personalities – our own and those with whom we work – it’s easier to understand what motivates people and what value each brings to the party.

Self-awareness is the key to personal growth; how can we improve if we don’t understand our own weaknesses or at least understand our “default” positions? Plus, understanding what “type” we are helps us interact with “other types.” For example, if I am more of a data-driven analyzer, I may have to work harder to appreciate the value of intuitive, theoretical thinkers. But once I understand where we are all coming from, I may be able to inform or refine their loose concepts with solid, strategic insights. In fact, proponents of the MBTI system recommend including different personality types on committees and work groups so that the various approaches are represented. The result is a more balanced, considered solution.

And here’s the thing – once you truly understand that YOUR approach isn’t the ONLY correct approach, you’ll be surprised at how everyone around you seems so much more cooperative. Funny how that works.