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Real-time personality assessment case study
29 Jul 2010

“Which Box Do You Want to be In?” Personality Assessment Case Study

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Real-time Personality Assessment

Word choice tells much about personality. This personality assessment case study shows how this works. It can help identify personality types according to other models such as extrovert and introvert.

The purpose though is to gain insight into specific tendencies in real life situations. Yes, each work discipline has its own vocabulary. Yet, much room remains to choose other words. Sometimes, a single expression is all we need.

Personality Assessment Case Study

This case study comes from a previous employer. At the time, I acted as an internal sales consultant to the units in our division.  This unit was a call center. I ran a couple projects focused on developing the unit’s customer service and sales strategies. As I was finishing up, the center was transitioning between managing executives.

When the new executive arrived, she heard about the success I had with her people. She wanted me to join the team. So, we met to discuss that and her vision for the call center.

After laying out her vision, she rolled out a large sheet. It had a detailed org chart on it. It described new functional for each job. Each job was shown as a box.

At the end of her review, she closed by pointing to the chart and asking, “So Mike, what I really want to know is which box do you want to be in?” This simple statement told much about her and how she saw her people.

This personality assessment case study shows how one can assess personalities in real time based on word choice.

The key words in this personality assessment case study are in the question: “Which box do you want to be in?”

Significance of “Which Box Do You Want To Be In”

To see the significance of this, let’s contrast it with other ways the new executive could have said the same thing:

  • “. . . what would you like to do?”
  • “. . . how would you like to help me?”
  • “. . . where do you think your talents might work best?”
  • “. . . where does your interest lie?”

In this light, she sees people as fillers for boxes in an org chart. Simply, she objectifies them. They’re objects to her.

Words and Personality, Making The Connection

What links the executive’s words to her personality are emotions. Words have definitions and connotations. The first conveys meaning. The second feelings and emotions. It’s the latter that forces people to have prefer some words over others. Those words reflect personality.

Again, contrasting her question with the other possibilities above helps. Ask yourself, “What does each question say about the questioner?” This might not be apparent right away, but each conveys a different feeling about her.

In the end, I did not join her team. She left the company after only being there thirteen months.

Series Navigation<< Assess Personality Traits with this Listening GameAssessing Personalities From Music People Like To Hear >>

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