Adjusting to the Workplace Styles of Others

Excerpt from “Personality Power: Discover Your Unique Profile—and Unlock Your Potential for Breakthrough Success” by Shoya Zichy (AMACOM, March 2013).

Shoya Zichy, a former President of Myers-Briggs Association and creator of the Color Q System, is the author of “Career Match” and “Personality Power: Discover Your Unique Profileand Unlock Your Potential for Breakthrough Success,”a new book to help each individual worker stay engaged and define their unique strengths to improve and manage their relationships in the workplace.

Using a 10-minute self-assessment, Zichy’s proprietary Color Q model sheds understanding on people through the lens of their natural, observable personality type: Green, Red, Blue, or Gold. The book’s Color Q system outlines well-researched ways to find specific strategies and make progress in work that is meaningful to you. Here’s a sample of a Positive Approach to Management in an adaptation from Chapter 25.

By Shoya Zichy

People tend to leave jobs because of their bosses and coworkers, not the job itself. “If it weren’t for my manager, I’d really love my work.” “If my boss would just stay out of my hair, I’d be able to complete my projects.”

There are reasons—and solutions—for such jarring relationships. Certain Color Q personalities clash with others; they don’t recognize each other’s strengths. If you want your managers to actually make your life easier, your first step is learning to identify their personality color. Then you can use these insights to your advantage. As you will see here, it’s possible to learn how to speak another’s language, or make a “style shift.”

Often, it’s not feasible to give someone else—like your boss—the self-assessment test in Chapter 2. This is where Color Q detective work comes in.

The tips outlined in this chapter will help you assess someone else’s Color Q personality. (These tips also work outside the office when trying to improve relations with your dates, spouse, parents, in-laws, even your children!)

Once you’ve assessed someone’s Color Q personality, you can begin to change the way you communicate with that person. Then, two things will happen:

  1. You will get more help (even respect) from adversaries and troublesome associates.
  2. You will come to appreciate their strengths (and perhaps even come to like them).

How to Assess Someone Else’s Color Q Personality

Determining someone’s style takes time and close observation. But if you can assess their primary Color Q personality and Introvert/Extrovert preference, it will go a long way toward improving communications.

Let’s simplify: Everyone has either a Gold or a Red component, as well as a Blue or a Green component. In addition, remember that everyone is either an Extrovert or an Introvert.

To find clues that will reveal these components, first look at the person’s work space. Scan it in the morning, at noon, and after the individual has gone home for the day. Then assess the person’s communication style.

If people have a Gold component: Their desk is usually uncluttered with no piles of papers; everything is neatly filed. Golds begin and end projects before starting new ones. They are serious, formal, and always on time.

When managing Golds: Tell them your precise expectations; then provide a stable environment with clear channels of communication and authority. You need to be decisive and organized, emphasizing firm procedures and deadlines. Then get out of their way and respect their unique ability to “get things done.”

If they have a Red component: The desk is a mess of papers and piles. Everything is a work in progress. Other clues: Reds are loose, relaxed, and humorous (often sitting with their feet up on the desk), but they also may be time-pressured or late.

When managing a Red: Talking face-to-face is always better; memos and e-mails do not engage Reds. They need stimulation, fun, freedom, and independence to be on top of their game. They are most productive in a flexible and self-paced environment. Not only do Reds enjoy crises, they will create them if they are bored. Reds are difficult to control and impossible to micromanage, but they will not disappoint you if you give them freedom. Avoid meetings, rules, and lengthy memos wherever possible. Allow them to follow their instincts.

If they have a Green component: Their office decor may be colorfully chic or bohemian, with many pictures of family and friends. They’ll often engage in a lot of small talk in an effort to personalize the relationship and put you at ease.

When managing Greens: Green employees need a harmonious environment with opportunities for personal growth. They become troubled and distracted by competition and conflict. Personalize your work relationship; ask about the Green’s family, hobbies, and pets in appropriate ways. Be inspiring and positive. Establish a shared vision and allow Greens creative freedom to address it. Give frequent feedback, but keep it diplomatic. Harsh criticism and fear tactics destroy their productivity, as do strict hierarchies; they prefer to work collaboratively.

If they have a Blue component: Their office will be filled with research studies, business references, and awards. Blues create a sense of distance and have a desire to keep the relationship on a professional basis. Typically they will be brief, terse, and constantly appraising you. Chitchat is limited.

When managing a Blue: You need to be strategically visionary to capture the interest of Blues. Explain to them the future implications of what you’re doing and how it might even have global consequences. Above all, provide them an autonomous environment with minimal guidelines. Establish demanding goals or else they’ll get bored and distracted. Debate with them and don’t take their challenges personally; it’s a sign you’ve got their interest. Listen to their insights and analytical skills; they’ll make you a lot of money.

Excerpt fromPersonality Power: Discover Your Unique Profile—and Unlock Your Potential for Breakthrough Success”by Shoya Zichy (AMACOM, March 2013).For more information on Color Q profile system, visit To purchase the book, visit

Shoya Zichy is the creator of the Color Q personality profile system. Formerly president of APTNYC, the Myers-Briggs Association of New York, her roster of clients includes Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, UBS, and the U.S Treasury. She is the author of “Career Match.” Her work has been featured in Fortune, Newsday, Barron’s, the Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Post, Memphis RSVP, US 1,and on CNN.

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