The following story illustrates how Keirsey Temperament types show up in the workplace.

Danielle sat at her desk, her shoulders up to her ears, waiting for Reese’s inevitable interruption.

She knew it was coming. Ever since she’d become the acting supervisor, it seemed Reese had been coming to her every ten minutes with another question or … suggestion. Aaargh!

A serious and quiet Guardian Inspector (ISTJ), Danielle needed a peaceful environment and lots of alone-time to focus. On top of her detail-oriented job, the new management responsibilities pushed her out of her comfort zone, and the interruptions just plain stressed her out.

Many Guardians instinctively time manage and create structure.

Danielle’s natural route to less stress and more productivity was to designate times for specific activities. She implemented brief, morning, staff meetings to stay abreast of what everyone was working on, set interruption-free times to do detail-oriented tasks, and asked Reese to document his questions and suggestions so that they could discuss them at a specific time each day. Phew! She had a plan that worked for her.


Reese was still struggling. Having had limited training, he looked with dismay at the mountain of papers on his desk and empty data fields on his computer screen. And now he couldn’t ask any questions! How was he going to get through the work? Aaaaargh!

Reese called me in a state of frustration. His manager’s new policies were making it harder for him to do his job and he couldn’t see how they would make things better.

Many Rationals need to know why.

I let Reese know that, as a Rational Inventor (ENTP), his reaction to the changes was natural and that he was just being himself. Likewise, Danielle’s policies were quite natural for Danielle.

Reese was able to accept the new policies when he understood that Guardians like Danielle need a schedule to do their best work. They need rules and procedures to be followed, and most important, they don’t work well with interruptions.

Reese just needed to figure out how to adjust his approach to getting the information he needed so they could both succeed.

He had thought that his new supervisor would want him to direct all questions to her. Once he stopped to understand what Danielle really needed and why she needed it, he was comfortable acting independently…in fact he preferred it.

Result? Danielle’s and Reese’s working relationship improved.

Reese dusted off the technical and procedural manuals, found answers to many of his questions and he soon became much more comfortable interacting with Danielle in the prescribed times.

At his performance review, Danielle commended him on his problem solving skills and contributions to streamlining processes. They even go out to lunch on occasion 🙂

If you’re having trouble getting past Aaargh, book an appointment with me. Properly understanding people’s temperaments can make it a lot easier for everyone to do their best work. Initial consultations are always free.

Disclaimer: Names, genders and occupations have been changed to protect the innocent…but the situation is real.