Multi-personality: Which one are you?
Hard fact. Nearly 83 percent of households today spend after-school or after-work hours watching television. Crazy, right? (Okay, okay. 83 percent is a number I made up to prove a point HIMYM style, but you get my drift). Most all people have at some point or another watched television. With that being said, most everyone has their favorite television show (if you’re too cool for TV, then skip past these first couple of paragraphs and jump right into the point I’m going to make).
Whether it be a wondrous sci-fi fantasy, full of magical lands and mystical creatures, or a classic must-see comedy series based on six quirky Friends living and loving in New York, it’s easy to get lost in the wonders that come out of Hollywood.*
See, for me, it’s easy to get lost in the characters of a show. I want to know their background, their mannerisms, their strengths and weaknesses…what really makes them tick. And like any good writer knows, character development often comes from examples we see in our everyday lives.
You all know what I’m talking about. Let me set the scene for you.
It’s a typical day in the Multiview offices. The music is pumping. The coffee is flowing. The clickity-click (yes, that’s a technical term) of hundreds of keyboards plays an ever present role as back-up singer to the MJ’s tunes. Calls are being made. Jubblies are being screamed. All in all, it is a beautiful day for magic to happen.
Enter our characters:
Pleasant Patrice – We all know and love this character. She walks into the office with chirping birds and beautiful butterflies flitting above her head, practically singing her hellos and good mornings. Each email she sends out has at least two smiley faces. Her voicemail is so peppy you want to listen to it multiple times just to put yourself in a better mood. The clients love her. The bosses love her. YOU love her. She’s a real treat.
The twins: Bitter Bobby and Angry Anthony – Ugh. These guys. They walk in and a grey cloud of bitterness and anger follows them. You know these two. Nothing ever goes right for them. There is no silver lining to any situation. Bad things only happen to them and they’ll never outrun their incredible bad luck. Their responses, in person, on the phone and via email, come across as super negative, almost biting. Helpful hint: Avoid these guys at all costs.
Chatty Cathy – You see her coming and you dive behind any cube wall you can fit behind (a great way to make new friends). You know if you happen to get cornered by Cathy that you’ll be there for at least the next 15 minutes. You know her cats’ names, medical histories and how many sales she’s put in over the span of her career. She’s sweet as she can be, but altogether clueless as to why people always have a glazed over look in their eyes when she’s talking to them. Good way to deal? Always have a good reason to get away. “I’m sorry, Cathy, but I think I hear my phone ringing.” Or, “I have to go meet with [insert an important name here].” If you simply say you have to go to the restroom, she’ll follow you in there or wait you out and your fate will inevitably be sealed.
Debbie Downer – This chick could easily be related to the twins, Bobby and Anthony. She can take any subject, no matter how spirited and enjoyable it may be, and turn it into a sob story about famine or war or her unfortunate medical ailments. It’s hard to be around Debbie because you can be on top of the world and she’s going to somehow bring you crashing back down to reality. As you can imagine, she’s a real treat to take to dinner parties or company functions.
Peppermint Petty – Think of this character as the one you always have to look out for. She seems sweet on the outside, but in all actuality, she is secretly planning everyone’s demise. She watches the clock to see who is in their seat one minute late (and though it’s not her official duty, makes sure the boss knows the name of each offender). She signs up for projects or teams and then, when you don’t agree with her idea, you quickly realize she’s slowly sabotaging the project altogether.
Helpful Henry – Oh, Henry. Aren’t you a gem? You know Henry. He’s here early. He stays late. He brings donuts for the team. He’s always ready to step in when someone needs assistance. He is even the first to offer to follow you to and pick you up from the mechanic so you don’t have to wait in a smelly automotive waiting room. Needless to say, Henry is on everyone’s radar and is definitely an ally to have.
Oddly enough, these are all characters you’ll find in most offices around the country. It’s just how things work. Yeah, you may not have every single one of these people in your office, or you may have different versions, but you get the point.
What I really want you to take with you though is the thought of which of these personalities you fit. What character is that client getting on that first phone call of the day vs. the last phone call of the day? What tone does that email to a concerned customer have? Do you portray the persona that everyone is trying to avoid (take a lot of lonely elevator rides)?
As my colleague, Julie Bernhard, wrote in her recent blog, “We never forget the first time we meet somebody. Assumptions are made within seconds of how someone presents themselves.” Think about that and decide which character you’ve been cast to play in your everyday work life. Is that really the role you were meant to shine in? Or do you need to make a quick re-write?
*Yes, I made a small wager to see just how many blog posts I can write that include a Friends reference…so far, I’m up to four. BOOM!