Understanding Personality Styles

Recently at our yearly retreat, we heard from Jolene Watson. She led a great discussion on personality tests and stress management – eye opener! One of the key points that she touched on referenced learning the personality styles of the people you work most closely with. While this seems like common sense, it’s not something that I had really considered up until this point. Why – I have no idea – because it’s pure gold.

There are a few reasons why I think her idea of knowing the personality style of your closest colleagues is one to follow. First of all, these are the people that you spend day in and day out with. Arguably, they spend more time with you than your own family. If you have no idea how or why they make decisions, the potential for conflict is always going to be greater. Now I don’t know about you, but doing things to create a conflict-free environment for my workdays sounds like a pretty good thought!

Second, almost anything can be brought down to your personality style. Your sense of humor, how you recharge, and how you like to be rewarded are just a few. While sense of humor and how you choose to recharge at the end of the day are important to understanding a person as a whole, how they prefer to be rewarded is a large part of creating a unified and cohesive team. Ultimately, you will work better together if you understand that they like to be quietly thanked rather than a large, CU-wide email going out detailing their accomplishment.

Last but not least, the work you produce as a team is bound to soar to new heights. Knowing that your close colleague is a thinker, rather than a feeler, is going to help you allot the right amount of time for those large projects that always seem to pop up. This should create a more contented team at the end of the day, as the timeline set would match their learning and personality styles.

While knowing the personality style of your team is not going to solve all the problems you may have, it would be a large leap towards understanding the people you’re with the most. This is something that I think would come in handy with not just my immediate team, but my larger work unit as a whole and I know that they’re just as stoked as I am to learn their personality style!

To discover your MBTI Personality Profile, there are tons of online tests that can be found. Or for a truly wonderful experience, you can contact Jolene Watson here.


– Larrisa Wesnoski

Learning to Fail and Failing to Learn

Come With Me, Not At Me

My biggest struggle in trying to come up with something to write about wasn’t so much a topic but the way in which I go about it.  I constantly struggled with the right tone.  Anyone who knows me, can probably agree that I’m not a fluffy person, not touchy-feely, no BS.  With that being said I didn’t want to write about a huge, grandiose idea on a really heavy topic that was so serious it would be taken as just verbal diarrhea…and I didn’t want to write something so unimportant for the sake of not being serious…and didn’t want to get too personal for fear of being unprofessional.


In the last 2 years, part of my role has taken me on the road to different locations.  I drive about 700 kilometers, Monday to Friday.  A lot of time in the car makes for a lot of time to fill….*insert selected podcast/audiobook*.  Honestly, I hadn’t given either much thought until being involved with SYL and hearing what all the cool kids were doing.  One of my favorite podcasts is ‘Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard’.  An interesting character who is honest about his own personal struggles with addiction, childhood trauma, fear and anxiety, toxic masculinity, fame and money.  I find that he is able to talk about himself and his guests without seeming too out of touch with his listeners.  He’s had a number of episodes called ‘Experts on Expert’,  featuring guests such as Dr. Phil, Gwyneth Paltrow, various psychologists and other ‘expert-in-their-field’ guests.  The last two Expert Guests that he had on, I found incredibly engaging and intriguing, John Kim (The Angry Therapist) and Johann Hari (author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections), a researcher in the areas of addiction and mental health.

I had a teacher in elementary school, Mrs. Paton, my music teacher.  She and I did NOT get along…even though I loved her class, one of my favorites.  Until one day (after sending me out in the hallway and then to the principal’s office, for something I can’t even remember now!) she said to me; “Christine, it’s not what you say…it’s how you say it.”  Mind you it took a while for that to really sink in and to internalize it so that it was my first thought when communicating, not an afterthought.  Soon after this interaction with her, our teacher/student relationship was much better.  I have never forgotten this lesson, but John Kim said in his interview regarding his own interactions, “Come with me, not at me”, and I immediately returned to that childhood memory.

Come with me, not at me.  This statement, for me, works on so many levels.  How do I talk to my husband?  My kids?  My coworkers and peers?  My boss?  Friends?  How do I use this to provide solutions instead of just looking to others to provide answers?  I think of my daily interactions (with my kids…getting them out of the house!)  How does their behavior and attitude change when I work with them (sometimes more time consuming) instead of demanding they get ready?  How does a conversation flow in a coaching session, if I come prepared with possible solutions, instead of ‘there is a problem, how is it going to be fixed?’  Working together and speaking together to create a feeling of ease, inclusion, and value, goes a long way in building trust and respect…important in every relationship.

The Value of Purpose

I normally consider myself a go-getter. I like to stay busy both in my personal and professional life, accomplishing as many goals and getting as much done as I can. But certain tasks – whether it be outside my comfort zone, time consuming, or just plain boring will go to the back of my list, rarely to be addressed. I work most effectively with a deadline but without, it tends to go to the back of the list. Jeph Maystruck read Parkinson’s Law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for completion”, at our annual retreat this summer as my to-do list started piling up, so it hit home at the time. There were many things that I had been putting off that ran through my head, all of which had loose deadlines. I needed to adjust my way of thinking about these tasks instead of procrastinating as they were starting to build up and so was the overwhelming feeling that came along with it. I knew I had to find a way to take the first step, even though I wasn’t sure what that step was, nor did I really feel like it.

So I decided to brush up on my time management skills by reading books, watching TED talks, and listening to various speakers. All of which had useful information on time management and productivity. But I quickly realized it wasn’t my time management skills that needed improvement, it’s that I was only focused on one thing – crossing the task off my to-do list. Sure there are certain times in the day where I’m most productive, having my phone on silent helps me avoid distractions (let’s be honest my phone is permanently on silent), and taking small breaks helps improve productivity, but being productive is only so useful if there’s no purpose.

When I get really busy life tends to turn into more of a task list and my main focus is generally moving from one task to the next. But when I take a step back and think about it, what’s the point if I’m not enjoying the process? Sometimes, when our task list piles up it’s hard to see the big picture around the why, instead we’re focused on deadlines and stressing until all the tasks are complete. It’s important that when I feel overwhelmed with all my ‘to do’s’ that I take a step back and ask myself ‘does this work contribute to my end goal?’, ‘will I be closer to accomplishing my goals after I complete this task list?’ and, ‘do these tasks align to my core values?’. Once I take the time to ask myself these things I feel less stressed and it becomes clearer to me which items on my list are important. I think we all fall victim to saying yes more than we should, we all inherently want to do our best and the most we can to help others. However, sometimes this comes at the cost of burning ourselves out. This past summer I committed to running my first half marathon. Initially I thought my biggest challenge would be the physical aspects of training. To my surprise it was prioritization – I no longer had time to do it all, which took a big toll on me. It takes some work, but once you are clear on your personal core values, you can let this guide your decision-making process. This helps me to determine if the things I say yes to really align with where I want to be and if they are in alignment with my values. How do you let your values guide your actions?

Positively Productive

I recently watched a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLJsdqxnZb0) about how happiness can lead to not only better mental and physical health, but also more productive workplaces. Shawn argues that happiness in any given situation is a choice, and that by making that simple choice, we are setting ourselves up for success. Happy employees are healthier, easier to coach and even more productive.

The happiness argument has been made by many a public speaker. But often I’m left wondering – if the choice to be happy is so easy, why is it so hard to follow through? One might argue that it’s because complaining is so engrained into our lifestyle. Misery loves company, and we have trained our behavior to match that sentiment. So in this month’s blog, I want to share some of my tips and tricks for making workplace happiness the norm around the CU water cooler.


Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is something so easy that makes a huge difference in your outlook. Whether you call it focusing on the positive, being thankful, or looking on the bright side, gratitude is an easy way to train your behavior towards happiness. Recently my family has taken to actually filling out a white board with the things that we are grateful for. Putting what you are grateful for in writing is a very powerful tool, and reading what others are grateful for is often an eye opener.


Help Someone

It comes as no surprise that helping someone else just feels good. Its why many of us decided to start a career in the Credit Union system, where volunteerism is a key value. Make sure that you are taking advantage of volunteer activities promoted through your work, and truly enjoy that good feeling when you’re done. Helping someone can be done on a small scale too. Lend a hand to a coworker struggling with a project, take a minute to help a neighbor carry their groceries, even paying for the person in line behind you at the drive thru can leave you feeling cheery all afternoon.


Get Enough Sleep

As Andrea Phippen mentioned at our SYL retreat this summer, it is very hard to practice emotional intelligence when your physical needs are not being met. Being well rested helps you to have patience, maintain your engagement in tasks, and yes – be happier. Don’t worry about making big changes overnight, just try and adjust your sleep window by 5-10 minutes at a time. Little changes make big differences.

As we go into this busy season following summer holidays, make sure to take the time to focus on the positive. Little steps towards happiness can bring down our stress, make us more productive and even… happy 🙂


Shout out to the BCYoungLeaders for sharing the Achor Ted Talk with their community. Connect with them on Twitter @BCYL or online at www.bcyoungleaders.com

Tune Out to Turn In

Keeping yourself grounded in a time of constant change can be a hard task to accomplish. Social media, constant email notifications, and the need to continuously be connected can make it hard to unwind and regroup after stressful days. Many people think that in order to be successful in our careers you need to be available 24/7. I was totally one of these believers, however I now feel the opposite. How can I give the best to my organization and coworkers if I never have time to focus on giving my best to me?

I recently listened to a phenomenal public speaker (Jeph Maystruck – you’ve probably heard of him) who enlightened my way of thinking when it came to this topic. When did we become slaves to our phones and computers instead of having them make our lives easier? I don’t remember the last time I had my phone on silent without feeling constant anxiety that I was missing something important. I mean, I even have my FitBit give me a notification so that I can know who is contacting me ALL THE TIME… talk about addicted. While it may not be realistic that I sever all ties with my iPhone, I feel like there are some things that I can do to help me perform my best at work as well as taking personal time to regroup. Let’s face it – being a burnt out 27 year old is not on my list of things to accomplish!

First of all, I decided to put technology to work to my advantage and I downloaded a meditation app. This app even has a breathing bubble – which comes VERY handy both at home and in the world of Human Resources (it’s not all roses, people). Second, I’ve attempted to stay on track and not be a slave to my incoming emails. Do you all know how much easier it is to accomplish things when you’re not constantly reading pop-ups?! GAME. CHANGER. Last, I turned off the notifications on my FitBit – I don’t need to be dropping what I’m doing at every second of the day to go to my phone, or sitting there reading my watch. Sorry Mom, I will be missing a few more of your phone calls now.

While these are a few things that have helped me to become more grounded in my day, they may not work for you. What makes you feel calm and relaxed? Can you somehow incorporate it into how you structure your days? Technology is a thing of the future, but we can definitely use it to our advantage! As future leaders of the CU system, we’ve got some exciting times ahead – let’s embrace them and live in the moment.


Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

As some of you may know, I am expecting a baby this summer. This is not the topic of my blog but I could go into all the details about the anxieties that come with being a first time mom… I will spare all of you the details. Instead I would like to talk about how a symptom of pregnancy has forced me to be more aware of how I show up at work. In the past I have had a good handle on my emotional intelligence, but throw some pregnancy hormones in the mix and that goes out the window! As someone who frequently takes the time to self-assess my behaviors, I now find myself thinking “did you actually say that” and “what were you thinking”. So what does that mean for my work relationships? Will they just give me a pass because ‘it must be the hormones’ or do I have to be better for the people around me? I can honestly say that depending on the day I might answer that last question differently, again based on my hormones. However, today I say the people around me deserve better. How I show up at work and at home is so important for my own wellbeing as well as the people around me. So exactly how do I manage this when something going on internally makes it so difficult? Well it is through Self-Regulation, one of the 5 key elements of emotional intelligence. See, by reflecting on the things I have done, I am holding myself accountable to being better. Once I have recognized how I have reacted in certain situations, it helps me to manage my emotions in similar situations. It also made me self-aware so I was able to go back to the individuals who I had those “did I just say that” moments and apologize. This shows those individuals that I am comfortable with admitting when I am wrong and that I care enough about them to preserve our relationship. I truly believe that having a strong EQ helps us be better employees, leaders and all around better human beings.

According to Daniel Goleman, there are 5 key elements to emotional intelligence:

1.       Self-Awareness

2.       Self-Regulation

3.       Motivation

4.       Empathy

5.       Social Skills

 I have attached an article which goes into more detail around each one of these areas. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_45.htm

 While my story was around how my EQ was affected by hormones, how might someone else’s be affected? Could it be from a lack of sleep, a fight with a partner or friend, or maybe your child wouldn’t get dressed that morning; whatever the cause may be, it is important to understand the connection between that and our EQ. I encourage each of you to take the time to learn more about emotional intelligence. How does it affect your work and personal relationships? The nice thing about emotional intelligence is that you can always work at improving. If you are interested in investing in your development, I highly encourage you to work on mastering your EQ.  Just Google “EQ” and you will be amazed at all the resources available!

Choose Your Struggle

I’m a fan of unconventional things. This admiration of weird extends into almost every facet of my life; from hobbies, to people, music, how I prefer to do business, and specifically books. Enter Mark Manson.

Mark and I have built an intimate relationship and he doesn’t even know it. Next time you go into the book store, find a beautiful, little orange book titled “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a *beep*”. Yes, I have edited the title out of respect. Yes, he published a book with a curse word in the title. He doesn’t care, and it doesn’t matter. The point: when you stop caring so much about external stuff, and re-focus that energy on what really matters – you – that’s where the magic is. Is this starting to sound familiar yet? Opposites attract, The Secret, The Backwards Law, the list goes on.

Mark Manson

That page hit me like a brick wall. Combined with the other healthy doses of reality that he throws at you, it felt like an entirely new concept. It is important that we recognize that there are going to be speedbumps, there are going to be very uncomfortable situations before we hit our goals. I set goals, and most times I crush them, however sometimes I don’t fully commit to the rocky process and consequently fail at execution. What if by welcoming the setbacks, which tend to be the milestones before the end goal, our success rate went through the roof? What if we made I don’t like to-do lists?

Some examples could be:

  1. I’m going to speak publicly as often as I can. In the beginning, it’s going to be awkward and I’m going to strongly dislike it.
  2. I’m going to spend most of my personal time to an educational course for the next three months. Social events and trips are off.
  3. I’m going to dedicate time and energy to exercising for the rest of my life. I’m likely not going to see results right away and it will be disheartening.

Sometimes we need to get real with ourselves and choose the struggle. For those of you that need ultra-positivity, that is totally okay if it’s working. If it’s not, could this work? I jumped into that question’s rabbit hole of self-analysis head-first and thought to myself “what a wonderful world”. Just kidding, it was interesting to say the least, and it will be ongoing, but it is a wonderful world.