What Shape Is Your Personality?

By Marianne Goss
HERALD-NEWS WRITER

You drive a sleek sportscar; you're a triangle. You wear plaid shirts; you're a square. You have overstuffed furniture; you're a circle. Pay attention, serious professional women. Contrary to first appearances, this isn't about whether stripes or solids suit you best. This message has a bearing on your career. Susan Dellinger, a traveling seminar presenter for a Colorado management training company called CareerTrack, mentioned clothes, cars and furniture to her Joliet audience as clues to personality types. She presented a "Power Communication Skills for Women" workshop here. The geometric shapes toward which you gravitate are external signs of personality, said Dellinger. Understanding "psycho-geometrics" -- your own and your co-workers' -- can help you get on in the business world, she believes.

The five personality shapes are square, rectangle, circle, and squiggle. Here's how Dellinger described their on-the-job behavior:

Square:
Organized and a hard worker, you like structure and rules and dislike situations in which you don't know what's expected of you. "Tell me the deadlines and I'll get the job done," you say -- and you deliver. You prefer working alone to teamwork. Logical, you think sequentially -- A, B, C, D. You collect loads of data and file it so information is easy to locate. But you have trouble saying, "I've got enough information," and making a decision.

Rectangle:
You are a seeker and an explorer, searching for ways in which you want to grow and change. You ask: who am I? what is the world about? You are the most receptive of the five shapes to new learning. You are the only shape that's not frozen, and you cause your co-workers confusion when you change from day to day. All people go through rectangular periods when they're in a state of change.

Triangle: A leader, you are decisive and able to focus on the goal. You have confidence in yourself and in your opinions, and you don't hesitate to tell everyone else the way the world is. You can be dogmatic and shoot from the hip. You like recognition and are delighted to tell people about your accomplishments. You can be self-centered and egotistical. You put stock in status symbols. American business has been run by triangles, and this shape is most characteristic of men.

Circle: You are a people person, the shape with the most empathy, perception and consideration for the feelings of others. You listen and communicate well. You read people and can spot a phony right off. You like harmony and have your greatest difficulties in dealing with conflict and making unpopular decisions. You are easily swayed by other people's feelings and opinions. You can be an effective manager in an egalitarian workplace, but have difficulty in political environments with a strong hierarchy. If you're a woman, even if you're not a circle, some circle traits have been conditioned into you.

Squiggle: You are creative, a "what if" person who's always thinking of new ways to do something. Your mind never stops and you do cognitive leaps -- from A straight to F. You see the forest and miss the trees. You don't like highly structured environments. You don't tolerate the mundane well and have a short attention span. If you don't get excitement at work, you'll cause it elsewhere in your life.

There are pluses and minuses to all the shapes, and no one is the most desirable, Dellinger said. Nor is any person a pure shape. Most likely you find aspects of your personality in all five shapes, but one will dominate. And you probably are not the same shape today that you were a few years ago or will be a few years in the future. The ideal charismatic leader is a blend of circle (sensitivity), triangle (leadership) and squiggle (creativity), Dellinger said. The purpose of psycho-geometrics is not just self-understanding, but better communication, she said. The most effective communicators orient their messages to the receiver's shape. A square will want details in writing. A triangle won't appreciate indecisiveness. You may have to remove distractions before getting a squiggle's attention. And so on. A group also takes on a shape; keep that in mind for presentations, she said. In handling conflict, circles tend to accommodate or compromise. Triangles tend to compete, or, if they see how they can gain, compromise. Squiggles sometimes don't even perceive there's an issue, but they can be competitive in defense of an idea. Avoidance is characteristic of squares because they don't like dealing with emotion, of rectangles because they're unsure. Compromise has been effective in American business and politics, but the ideal style, Dellinger said, is collaboration -- the group comes together not with anyone thinking of trade-offs, but of finding the best solution. She said good teamwork needs all the shapes: triangles for leadership and decisiveness, rectangles because they keep questioning, squiggles for ideas and enthusiasm, squares to get the work done and circles to keep harmony.





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